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Brokers need to protect reputation against data loss

In many ways, the mortgage market is about the little guy. Despite the severity of the economic downturn, plenty of small to medium sized brokers have lasted by toughing it out.

To survive, many small businesses have downsized and reduced costs in any area they can.

Unfortunately, in this climate of squeezed budgets, data protection can often be overlooked. A simple measure such as wifi security is a case in point.

It is easy to overlook it when you are thinking about cost management, but wifi networks contain sensitive corporate and consumer data. like leaving your office door open after working hours.

Hackers know small to medium sized brokers are the least likely to have sophisticated defences

Google got into trouble recently for the way it secretly harvested personal data from wifi networks to build its Street View application.

In 2010 the internet giant acknowledged that its Street View cars, whose prescribed purpose was to use radio antennae to help establish the locations of Google users and map wireless access points, mistakenly collected personal payload data.

This included passwords, internet use history, email, text messages and other personal information from home wifi networks.

Google blamed the violation on one rogue engineer but recent investigations suggest the company knew more about the data collection than it first let on.

It revealed that the coder in question, ’Engineer Doe’, had informed several members of the Street View team about the capabilities of his software code.

Originally, the Federal Communications Commission was unable to fully resolve the case because Engineer Doe cited his Fifth Amendment right and refused to talk.

It ruled that Google had not violated any wiretapping laws and let the company off with a fine and slap on the wrist.

Now privacy watchdogs, consumers and a coalition of more than 40 state attorneys are all clamouring for further investigation into this breach.

Data thieves could use the same tactic to steal brokers’ data.

Times are tough, and the costs of running a business quickly add up.

But do not be tempted to overlook wifi security. It could lead to loss of data on a huge scale.

Of all small to medium sized firms that suffer serious data breaches, only 30% survive in the long term.

The killer is the damage to a broker’s reputation caused by data loss. Once you lose information on a massive scale, it is difficult to shake off the reputation for having insecure systems.

Lenders and customers will take their business elsewhere, and your business could enter terminal decline.

Hackers are becoming increasingly savvy.

They know small to medium sized brokers are the least likely to have sophisticated defences around their wifi.

They see them as the low hanging fruit, ripe for picking.

So make sure you thwart them by securing your wifi networks.

Use trustworthy technology providers to help you put safeguards in place.

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