“Beeeeeeeeeep… This Is a Test.”

Ahhh…the jolting sound that sometimes interrupts our prime-time television programming: This is a test.  For the next thirty seconds, this station will conduct a test of the Emergency Broadcast System.  This is only a test.

EBS ScreenThough they are prickly interruptions, we tolerate these tests because they are brief and, perhaps most importantly, we understand that should a real emergency occur, the Emergency Broadcasting System (EBS) would keep us informed.  As it should, system testing takes place before an actual emergency to ensure that notifications function properly before the need is dire.  In the same way, emergency preparedness for a cyberattack should occur before an attack happens.  This blog will concentrate on testing your emergency plan in advance of an attack and analyzing your established insurance policies to see if you would be covered for inevitable financial costs associated with such an attack.

The EBS and its predecessor notification programs have been operating almost the same way since 1951.  When we take a look at why, several underlying principles become apparent:

  1. It’s critical to anticipate a wide variety of potential disasters.
  2. It’s important to have plans in place to deal with such disasters before they occur.
  3. It’s critical that the plans can be implemented in a timely fashion to minimize loss.
  4. It’s crucial to get people’s attention, so the established plans are repeatedly tested.

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Should a Settlement Agency Be Considered a Daycare for Customer Data?

Protect Computer DataAll too often, title and settlement agents give little more than a passing thought to the importance of protecting highly sensitive customer data.  But to the lenders we service, the care and protection of the customer data with which we’re entrusted is extremely important.  That’s because the law unequivocally requires customer data to be protected and, on at least an annual basis, various federal regulators are going to conduct multi-day, in-office assessments of lenders’ policies, procedures, and actual practices to ensure lenders are effectively protecting that data, even when it is in the hands of settlement agents.  Lenders realize that if they fail to protect the data, it can cost millions of dollars in fines, and even more importantly, the incalculable damage associated with the loss of customer confidence.  Title agents need to be more aware of the lender’s perspective on the importance of protecting customer data.

Title agents should think of lender data as the lender’s child and their role in protecting it as that of the lender’s daycare agency.  I think lenders would agree that this is an appropriate analogy.  The care of one’s child and the care of customer data are both of paramount importance.  In this analogy, lenders want to be sure their “sons or daughters” are cared for in a safe and secure “daycare facility” while out of their direct control.  They would want to be assured that while their “child” is at the daycare, it’s protected from a whole variety of rare, but very possible occurrences.  For example, as a parent evaluating a daycare facility, you would likely want to be assured that:

  • No one can randomly walk into the facility and leave with your child.
  • If there was a fire or a tornado, the daycare has a pre-established exit plan to ensure everyone stays safe.
  • During the day, your child’s growing mind is properly nurtured, and you are kept advised about the positive ways the daycare staff is handling those responsibilities.
  • If the daycare takes your child on field trips, there are policies and procedures in place to ensure there will always be enough chaperones, and they are properly trained to watch over the children when they are away from your secure facility.
  • The daycare is regularly inspected by a daycare licensing agency, it has a comprehensive manual outlining processes for carrying out day-to-day responsibilities, and it has an unrestricted offer to allow you to stop by anytime to personally inspect the high degree of care your child is receiving.

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