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Watch your back and cut data risks

Mark Blackwell MS blog

In sectors like the mortgage industry, data is quite literally the lifeblood of lenders – the bread and butter of brokers. 

But data brings risks too, and has the potential to grab the headlines in dramatic fashion.

For example, Chinese hackers have long been suspected of breaking into corporate and government systems. And recently, a spate of hacking attacks was traced to a secretive building in Shanghai – supposedly owned by the People’s Liberation Army.

Cases like this are thankfully raising awareness of how technology systems can be infiltrated, and the quantities of data that can be stolen without detection. Traditional systems are becoming outdated.

But the issue is serious too. It isn’t confined to governments and Hollywood-style headlines. According to KPMG, over a third of data lost in the financial services sector is via hacking, with fraud coming in a close second at 30 per cent.

Royal Bank of Scotland added to its spate of technology glitches recently, with a failure of internet and mobile banking services. In fact this has already been linked by some commentators to the “largest cyber attack ever” on a Netherlands-based web-hosting company.

Clearly, dramatic hacking headlines matter for the mortgage industry. Business secrets are as valuable to competitors and fraudsters as they are to malevolent regimes.

There are a few steps that lenders need to take to reduce their data risk. Data should be accessed online via a secure portal and hosted in a secure location. Equally, the potential for human weakness means access must be restricted only to those who strictly need it.

Data is valuable to its rightful owners – often much more valuable than they realise. It could be anything, from all your email contacts to a whole bank’s worth of property details. Everyone needs to watch their back.

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