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MBA Report: Protecting Consumer Information Never More Important

Protecting Consumer Information

The financial services industry is a prime target for “bad actors” because of all the sensitive financial information it collects, according to a recent report from the Mortgage Bankers Association. So the need for Notaries and everyone else in the industry to protect that information has never been greater.

In fact, the federal government has designated the industry as one of the nation’s critical infrastructures, which means that it is subject to stringent government oversight. The report, “The Basic Components Of An Information Security Program,” is intended to serve as an information security guide for small- and medium-sized business entities within the finance industry that have limited resources.

Avoid ‘Paralysis’

The sheer volume of guidance about information security “may create paralysis for small players, resulting in minimal or no action on their part,” the report noted. But every business needs to evaluate its own circumstances and develop best practices to protect the information in its care.

“Failure to properly protect such information can easily result in significant fines and penalties” as well as damage to your reputation and the potential loss of business, the report noted. Companies that contract with mobile Notaries to carry out loan-signing assignments want assurance that their  confidential information is protected when they connect to another entity.

The report strongly urges all players in the finance industry to implement an information security program and carry out regular self-assessments. To help with this task, the NNA has created a downloadable Notary Signing Agent Self-Assessment. While it is geared toward NSAs, it can be an effective tool for any Notary.

Top Priority Cybersecurity Practices

Regular self-assessments will help identify the ever-changing risks you face and implement the appropriate steps to protect against those risks. But the following cybersecurity practices should be among your top priorities:

  • Protect your information from viruses, spyware and other malicious code. Install, use and regularly update anti-virus and anti-spyware software on every computing device you use.
  • Protect your Internet connection. If you have access to a broadband Internet connection, make sure the router incorporates a firewall. However you connect to the Internet, install firewall software on every computer you use.
  • Install patches to your operating systems and applications. Software providers regularly identify vulnerabilities in their products and release patches and updates to correct these problems. Make sure to apply all updates as they are released.
  • Back up your data. Computers die, hard disks fail, people make mistakes and malicious programs can destroy data. Important information should be backed up regularly so you can recover any lost data quickly. It’s best to set up automated back-ups, and many security software products offer this function.

Clients and other stakeholders will be much more likely to trust NSAs who implement these and other cybersecurity practices. In an increasingly competitive environment, a robust data security program could be a strong marketing point for signing agents.

Michael Lewis is Managing Editor of member publications for the National Notary Association.

Additional Resources:

Notary Privacy Guard

1 Comment

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23 Nov 2015

If you backup sensitive information, you have to make sure those backups are secure. If you backup to the cloud, make sure the connection is secure, and that the service you use incorporates its own security features so your data is safe. I would consider ecrypting sensitive backups. Also, when deleting sensitive files, I use an eraser program so that the file cannot be recovered.

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