Virtual private networks (VPNs) are a type of technology that allow businesses like yours to secure and encrypt connections to corporate networks and resources from remote locations. If you think back to the COVID-19 pandemic and the explosion of remote work, then it becomes easy to understand why VPNs have surged in popularity in recent years. If you’re considering taking the plunge and purchasing a VPN solution for your agency, you’ll want to read on for some best practices and tips.
VPNs are used across industry verticals and are particularly common in finance, healthcare and, yes, insurance. These fields routinely deal with large amounts of highly sensitive information. Ensuring data security and cyber resilience is integral to business longevity, making selecting a VPN provider a strategic business decision.
Focus on top features and industry compliance
As you explore the market, you will quickly see there are many VPN providers to choose between. Cut through the noise by focusing on key priorities and features like:
- Robust encryption: Look for a VPN provider that offers 256-bit encryption, which is the industry standard for ensuring that data sent over your network is unreadable to unauthorized parties.
- Secure cybersecurity protocols: Verify that your provider offers tunneling protocols like OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec or IKEv2/IPsec.
- No logging: Unprotected online activity is logged by a variety of sources – including internet service providers,cookies, search engines and third-party services.A VPN service will protect you from this type of surveillance and tracking.
Any VPN you choose must also be compliant. Before implementing a service, stay apprised of all regulations that your title agency may be subject to and verify that your VPN will meet and exceed any requirements.
User management and ease of use
Ease of use and intuitive management are critical factors when considering VPNs. This goes double if you are working with a team that is heavily dispersed. Inquire with vendors about the learning curve involved with adding this tool to your security stack. Any worthwhile provider will walk you through how to set up or remove users, add permission levels or implement two-factor authentication.
Scalability and flexibility
Your business is always evolving. Therefore, you need to work with a VPN provider whose product is flexible and scalable enough to support your team as it continues to grow. Some factors to consider include:
- Network capacity: You will want to inquire into any provider’s network and carrying capacity. Remind yourself to ask about how they handle fluctuations in network traffic and how they prevent service quality from degrading during periods of high use.
- Remote work: Your VPN provider should also support remote work – regardless of whether your agency currently has a telecommuting policy. You need to know that your provider’s solution can handle simultaneous, dispersed connections.
- Load balancing: Another critical point to investigate is load balancing and redundancy. A VPN that can scale effectively along with your business should come with strong measures in place for distributing network traffic in a way that avoids failures and downtime.
Stay safe and productive online
When your team is armed with a good VPN, they can stay productive and secure regardless of whether they are in the office or working at home. Following these tips can help you gain this additional level of protection, allowing you to then do what you do best: continuing to meet the needs of your customers.
You’ve heard the rumors. Let’s dig into the facts businesses need to know.
You may have heard about the dark web before. Accessible exclusively through third-party tools, the dark web is mostly known for its association with unsavory activity. One study, for example, pegged almost 57% of all dark web content as being illegal. It is also estimated that over half of the 2.5 million daily dark web visitors have engaged in criminal behavior.[i]
Businesses can’t afford to ignore the risk represented by this hidden swatch of the internet. Let’s explore what you need to know about the dark web and steps you can take to prevent it from being weaponized against your agency.
The internet iceberg
But first, let’s flesh out the structure of the internet so we can better orient ourselves to what we’re talking about when we discuss the dark web.
Just for a moment, imagine the internet as an iceberg. Many people know that the visible portion of an iceberg represents only a tiny fraction of its full size. The same is true for the internet. That visible portion includes the sites indexed by search engines – that is, any site you can visit by typing its name into a website like Google. Below this level is what is known as the “deep web,” which should not be confused with the dark web.
While both internet levels are inaccessible through search engines, the deep web includes many sites that you and I use every day. Your email inbox, for example, is part of the deep web, as are pages detailing sensitive information like bank accounts and medical records. While the numbers vary, it is estimated that the deep web encompasses a stunning 90-95% of the internet and is 400 to 500 times larger than the surface-level internet.[ii]
Underneath all this hidden yet perfectly legitimate content is the dark web. Not only is the content not crawled by search engines like Bing, Google or Chrome, but to access it, you need to employ a specialized internet browser called “Tor.” Designed for total anonymity, Tor lets users access the internet’s most hidden and illicit content while shielding their identities and locations.
A hive of scum and villainy
In the classic 1977 space epic Star Wars, Obi Wan Kenobi’s and Luke Skywalker’s mission to defeat the Empire begins by going to the Mos Eisley spaceport to recruit the roguish smuggler Han Solo. Prior to entering the town, Kenobi cautions the young farm boy about the potential dangers they will face, referring to the location as a “wretched hive of scum and villainy.”
In many ways, the wise jedi’s words are an apt description of the dark web. While the computer network can have legitimate applications, it is teeming with illicit activity. Bad actors frequently use the communication network for all sorts of crimes, including:
- Fake IDs
- Credit card fraud
- Selling business EIN numbers
- Offering trade secrets to the highest bidder
- Publishing hacker tools
- Buying and selling prohibited items like drugs or weapons
- Engaging in human trafficking
If that wasn’t enough, the dark web can be a minefield of cybersecurity risks including malware and other viruses.
Keep your business clear of the dark web
As with most cybersecurity threats, when it comes to the dark web, prevention is the best medicine. You can do a lot to keep your agency safe by deploying strong cybersecurity protocols and safeguards. Here are a few examples:
- Enact multi-factor authentication.
- Require your staff to adhere to best practices for creating and maintaining strong passwords.
- Consider using a dark web monitoring service.
- Update your programs and ensure you have strong anti-virus software in place.
- Instruct your staff to use a virtual network server or VPN whenever they are working remotely, which will prevent data interception by cybercriminals.
Final words Although most people will go their entire lives without having to worry about the dark web, it remains a significant threat to businesses, particularly in industries like ours that handle large amounts of personal data. Taking preventative measures now can decrease your risk profile and keep your firm’s sensitive information out of th
[i] 5 Dark Web Trends in 2023 | LMG Security
[ii] Difference Between Dark Web vs. Deep Web | ExpressVPN Blog
Today’s title professionals face ever-increasing cybersecurity threats, all of which can cause major disruption and economic loss. With October being Cybersecurity Awareness Month, now is the perfect time to review the latest trends affecting our industry and understand how to mitigate some of the top challenges.
I. Wire fraud remains number one
Wire fraud continues to be the number one threat to title agents, their customers and the vitality of their business. According to the latest FBI reports, the average cost per wire fraud incident is nearly $200K, and the total number of incidents recorded this year will likely break records.
Take the following actions to derail some of the most common schemes, including phishing, business email compromise and social engineering:
- Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) for system access.
- Ensure the latest security patches are promptly installed. Read our tips on keeping programs updated consistently.
- Consider upgrading your antivirus protection with endpoint detection and response (EDR), a dynamic tool that leverages AI technology to reinforce your security.
II. Watch out for fraudulent sellers
Seller theft, one of the most significant emerging threats, involves a scheme where the seller’s identity is falsified, leading to a bogus and fraudulent sale. There is no shortage of information online regarding real estate transactions, making it easy for thieves to obtain these details. Here are some of the best strategies for combating these fraudsters:
- Use encryption to protect communications and all identifying information, including emails and data that is “at rest,” that is, data housed physically on a given computer storage device.
- Verify and validate identification through available electronic tools.
- Confirm and reconfirm throughout every step of the transaction. Slow down. Take time to verify.
To reduce fraudulent transactions and lower premiums, Alliant National has initiated a crime watch program, which incentivizes policy-issuing agents to detect and prevent illicit activity. Learn more about the program and get involved.
III. Privacy remains the focus
Ten states have now enacted comprehensive privacy laws. Six have passed laws this year alone, with Texas being just the latest to do so. All 50 states now have data breach reporting laws. Many statutes impose a significant daily fine for late notice or a private right of action for failure to comply and negligence.
What all these legislative moves imply is that privacy and sensitive data protection remains at the forefront of our industry. Title leaders must ask themselves if they are staying current on the latest technologies and techniques to guarantee end-to-end data protection, including:
- Developing a written security plan and devoting the necessary time and resources to ensure employees are trained sufficiently. maintaining complete records is important as well.
- Encrypting sensitive and non-public information, which is essential to protect against unauthorized access and breaches.
- Knowing and abiding by your state-specific breach reporting requirements.
IV. Practice secured electronic document storage
Title agencies routinely deal with electronic documents that contain large quantities of sensitive information and which represent a highly attractive target for today’s criminals. In fact, according to recent research, “88% of organizations worldwide were experiencing spear-phishing attempts in 2019. And 68% of business leaders felt their cybersecurity risks were drastically increasing.”[i]
Here are some principles to help keep these bad actors at bay:
- Ensure you are applying encryption to protect digitally stored documents.
- Perform periodic backup and recovery tests to ensure the availability and integrity of stored records.
- Maintain and test disaster recovery and business continuity plans.
V. Adhere to all regulations
Regulatory compliance requirements have increased and will continue to evolve to address shifting cybersecurity and consumer privacy issues. Stay abreast of some of the most pressing changes to the landscape:
- The current patchwork of complex state privacy and data breach laws is expected to continue growing without any expected federal legislation.
- The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) has been updated for the first time since the early-aughts to address data security and privacy. Modifications to the law’s security safeguard rules are going into effect in June 2023 and will be enforced by the Federal Trade Commission.
- The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has released a draft of proposed 2023 privacy protection requirements modeled after the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS).
Taking action can keep you safe
Wire fraud. Seller falsification. Regulatory compliance. It seems like every day there is a new thing for the busy title agent to worry about. Staying apprised of the latest news and best practices, however, can help, as can seeking out the expertise of an experienced technology provider. Taking these steps, along with carrying comprehensive insurance for cybercrime and liability, can reinforce your security posture for maximum protection.
For more tips on building a safe and secure title operation, check out our other blogs focusing on IT.
[i] 2020 State of the Phish: An in-depth look at user awareness, vulnerability and resilience (proofpoint.com)
Harnessing the Power of AI for Better Antivirus Protection
Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) is a next generation cyber security solution that provides more advanced and comprehensive protection for your devices compared with traditional, static antivirus applications that only address simple signature-based malware threats. While traditional antivirus programs detect and remove known malware, EDR is designed to detect and respond to more complex and sophisticated threats that often bypass or get through traditional antivirus protection. A good EDR solution can identify existing threats already hiding on a network, which is important as current threats are often undetected for several months. Since most malware intrusions originate at the end-user, it is critically important to have the very best antivirus protection on individual computers and laptops.
Here are some reasons to consider EDR as a preferred antivirus solution:
Smarter Detection: Traditional antivirus programs rely on pre-defined signatures to identify known threats. However, EDR takes a different approach. It uses behavioral analytics to detect suspicious activity in real-time, even if there are no known signatures. By monitoring file changes, registry modifications, and network traffic, EDR can detect and respond to the latest, advanced threats faster than traditional antivirus programs.
Complete Visibility: EDR provides security teams with a centralized management console to monitor and investigate activity across all devices in an organization. This makes it easier to deploy and manage security policies. Some vendors offer a fully managed model for businesses who cannot or do not want to deal with the administration or management of the EDR tool. With EDR, you don’t need to worry about manually updating antivirus software on individual devices. The central console ensures that the latest EDR protection is deployed, saving time and effort. In case of a security breach, EDR allows for a coordinated and rapid response to investigate and minimize the damage.
Real-time monitoring and continuous threat-hunting: EDR keeps a constant watch over servers, laptops, and mobile devices in real-time. It allows security teams to proactively identify and address threats before they can breach the system. By analyzing suspicious behavior, EDR can act before a breach occurs, reducing the risk of data loss or compromise.
Monitoring of servers, laptops, and mobile devices by EDR is critical to allow fast and effective solutions to threats before they breach, and in the event of a breach, to contain and solution the threat before there is contagion throughout the network. EDR has a proactive threat hunting feature that allows security teams to identify threats before they become an incident. Suspicious behavior is analyzed and reacted to before a breach occurs.
Forensic Capabilities: In the event of a security breach, EDR provides forensic capabilities that assist security teams to investigate and understand system events and scope of the attack. Detailed logs are available showing system events and user behavior. The logs may be used to identify the source of the attack, measure the extent of damage or intrusion, then develop a plan to prevent a future, similar attack. This is very useful to provide evidence of rapid response and the scope, extent, and timing of an event that is required with many state breach notification requirements.
Integration with other security solutions: EDR seamlessly integrates with other security solutions, enabling automated incident response workflows, event logging, and monitoring across multiple platforms. This integration enhances the overall effectiveness of your cybersecurity infrastructure.
With the rapid evolution of advanced threats and sophisticated malware, relying solely on traditional antivirus programs isn’t enough. Having a robust EDR solution provides the best available antivirus resource, deploying a tool that uses artificial intelligence to reiterate and continually evolve an endpoint defense. The combination of advanced detection, rapid response, real-time central monitoring, and enhanced forensic features provides a powerful tool to protect and secure your organization’s critical and sensitive data. Antivirus protection is a vital cyber-security shield on the frontline of defense, and it is imperative that defense is effective, today more than ever.
Interested in learning more about EDR? Notable companies that offer EDR solutions include SentinelOne, CrowdStrike, and Cisco. If you have questions about EDR and other tools and strategies to protect your networks and your business, feel free to contact me: email@example.com
For many who work in real estate, the job site isn’t defined by a single location. Workers are often highly mobile, and their job responsibilities may require them to move from house to house to conduct closings and other business. To stay connected, collaborative and productive, these workers need access to cloud-native enterprise mobility solutions. When properly equipped, workers can stay connected to the data, channels and applications they need. Here is what you need to know about these technologies and what benefits they can bring to your business.
What are enterprise mobility solutions?
Enterprise mobility management (EMM) encompasses the processes, underlying technologies and solutions that enable enterprise mobility. More specifically, EMM includes things like software hosted over the cloud, applications optimized for mobile devices, VPN networks to boost security and programs like mobile device management. These technologies work together seamlessly to empower employees and enable greater organizational flexibility, while at the same time allowing administrators to conduct oversight of how devices and programs are being used.
One of the biggest things remote workers gain when equipped with the right mobile solutions is process improvements. The right digital toolkit not only reduces the need for endless paper documentation, but it streamlines access to necessary business information, allowing employees to provide better customer experiences.
For any business, finding ways to increase worker productivity is a key priority. When the right mobility solutions are deployed, real estate and title insurance employees can stay apprised of their most important tasks and responsibilities from anywhere on any device. Potential benefits from this include a reduction in lag times, easier collaboration and happier and more satisfied customers overall.
While the rise of mobile has worked wonders for many aspects of business communication and collaboration, it is safe to say that it has introduced new challenges for data privacy and security. Real estate and title insurance are both data-intensive fields that routinely deal with sensitive customer data. Agents must have the means to secure that information. Without the right digital tools, your business runs the risk of experiencing a security-related incident and potential long-term damage to your brand.
Reduced IT overhead
Like any other business process, the more control and standardization you can exert over your IT setup, the more it can work wonders for reducing IT spending. Today’s enterprise mobility tools offer the type of visibility, convenience and functionality that can improve an agent’s job performance without saddling your company with a lot of additional costs. One of the ways they do this is by streamlining processes like file sharing. Another involves how enterprise mobility is one of the foundational technologies behind the rise of remote work. Businesses that successfully run and manage hybrid or remote workforces may achieve sizable savings in lower office costs, reduced employee churn and higher productivity.
Equip yourself for success
With the benefits of enterprise mobility being crystal clear, your next question might be: Where do I start? Well, unfortunately, the answer is going to be different for each agency. As I have said before, your organizational goals should dictate the type of IT solutions you employ – not the other way around. Spend some time thinking about what your needs are before you make any decisions. Don’t discount the value of getting a little help. Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or if you would like to talk. With any luck, you’ll quickly find the right setup for your team and start taking your mobile operations to the next level.