Cyber Security Hot Topic at NS3 Last Week


by Heather James

We spent a majority of last week in the Motor City at NS3, the National Settlement Services Summit hosted by October Research and, I must say, of the 10 plus sessions we attended, almost all of them were focused on cyber security. It was definitely the topic about which everyone was buzzing. And those few sessions that weren’t billed as cyber security – like Winning Sales Strategies and Marketing & Advertising post-PHH Decision – still managed to touch on the subject either anecdotally or in follow up audience Q & A.


Recent Cyber Arrests

So, it was no small surprise when Monday morning’s breaking news in HousingWire was that the FBI, along with several other federal government agencies, U.S. and district attorneys, etc., arrested 74 people in the U.S., Nigeria, Canada, Mauritius and Poland for wire transfer hijacking schemes, many of them scamming the real estate industry. “Operation Wire Wire” yielded almost $2.4 million and disrupted and recovered about $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers.

Absolutely. Terrifying.

But what’s more terrifying is that there’s no end in sight and all the predictions agree that Business Email Compromise or BEC schemes (using legitimate business emails to conduct unauthorized wire transfers) is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Additionally, more fraudulent activity needs to be headed off at the pass because virtual and electronic contracts, however slowly the real estate industry is adopting, are here to stay.

We spent our time at NS3 in professional development and continuing education sessions as well as in one-on-one networking opportunities and the urgent need for us in the real estate title and settlement industry to keep evolving to stay ahead of the hackers could not have been more real.

The eEra Has Dawned

We delved further into best practices for protecting personal information and how we can increase cyber security to preempt a data breach. We heard again that data is king (well, the session was actually called Data is Gold) especially now that the eEra has dawned … watch for more upcoming blogs in this blog space about next gen technology adoption including eClosings, eNotaries and eMortgages.

These advances will most definitely save time, money and numerous other resources (paper), however, they make staying relevant and vigilant even more paramount for an industry teetering on the edge of new tech breakthroughs.

The Upside – Just a Call Away

Along with the potentially overwhelming and, frankly, terrifying litany of cyber dangers and pitfalls, we still came away from NS3 struck by the highly people-intensive nature of our business. And we like that.

Yes, we promise to stay aware of the nuances of security, changes in financial services requirements and regulations spurred by cyber threats, and resources for these topics. However, the single best way to avoid a cyber misstep is to reach out and touch us. Yes, like on the phone, the old fashioned way. How refreshing is that? We have actually changed our email signature lines to urge people to phone us before authorizing any wire transfers.

And our pioneering “at home closing” service just can’t get any more personal than us coming to you. We promise we won’t take that away.

But we will continue our firm commitment to keep attending events like NS3 and the Georgia REALTOR Conference in September. We promise to fervently devour information and best practices so we can not only safeguard our business and our clients’ assets, but share this knowledge with you. We will continue to write about trending topics like Kara’s recent wire fraud post and my blog last month on blockchain technology.

Stay tuned to our channel for thought leadership and curated content and we’ll stay ahead of the curve together.