In the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity, the stakes have never been higher. A recent survey by Qualia reveals a disconcerting trend: a staggering 98% of businesses have experienced the same or an increased number of cyber attacks over the past year.

For title & escrow companies—which handle sensitive and valuable information every day—the need to fortify their defenses is more critical than ever. While there’s nothing that can be done to fully prevent cyber attacks from happening, having the right tools to mitigate them is increasingly important. 

With the proliferation of security tools available on the market, selecting the right technology solutions has become increasingly challenging. By adhering to a set of security-minded principles when selecting technology, title & escrow companies can withstand the growing tide of cyber threats while maintaining a manageable and streamlined set of systems and tools.

A double-edged sword: more cybersecurity solutions can also mean more risk for businesses

In recent years, the market has been flooded with various security tools for title & escrow companies to combat a wide range of security threats, including wire fraud. However, despite their effectiveness in managing specific aspects of a real estate transaction, many of these tools operate in isolation, creating a fragmented system. 

For example, a title & escrow company might use two or three distinct systems—each with its own login—to execute a wire transfer. These tools might include a secure communication portal to engage with clients and exchange sensitive information such as social security numbers, an ID verification system, and a wire fraud detection system. 

When title & escrow companies invest in a breadth of siloed security features and wire fraud mitigation tools, it creates a patchwork of systems that present several challenges, including:

  1. Limited risk assessment strategies. Many new wire fraud solutions entering the market rely on one or two strategies to assess the risk of fraud, leaving title & escrow companies at risk.
  2. More points of vulnerability for bad actors to attack. Each tool provides its own login and entry point, which widens the “attack surface” for fraudsters to attempt a breach.
  3. Your team experiences “portal fatigue.” Like your clients, employees are frustrated when they need to log into multiple interfaces to complete a task or set of tasks. Streamlining your security infrastructure helps reduce employee burnout. It also reduces the likelihood that employees will reuse a password or use a weak password — a practice that opens your business to risk.
  4. Your IT team is overburdened with system management. Integrating and managing multiple separate security tools is time-consuming for IT professionals who must ensure all systems are continually up to date.
  5. A negative client experience. The closing process is already considered one of the most confusing and stressful aspects of the homebuying journey. Requiring clients and homebuyers to log into additional portals and systems to complete a transaction only compounds the stress and overwhelm. A familiar and secure single entry point also helps clients feel more safe when sharing sensitive information.

Reduce your attack surface: prioritize the right cybersecurity solutions

Reducing your attack surface begins with consolidating your systems. The right principles will ensure you operate with a prioritized set of software providers who will help keep your business safe now and in the future as the threat landscape shifts.

Security-minded principles for selecting a title production software

Your team spends the majority of their day in your title production software. Yet, only half of Qualia’s cybersecurity survey respondents indicated that security considerations were “extremely” or “very” significant in their title production system selection process. Considering that three out of four respondents said their business has been a target of cyber attacks in the past 12 months, investing in a secure title production system should be priority number one.  

Many title & escrow companies rely on add-on security tools to mitigate security threats; however, a unified real estate closing platform with built-in security features enables you to reduce the risk of attacks and create a streamlined closing experience for all transaction parties. Below are some principles to consider when selecting a title production system:

  • Does the system meet the highest security standards? All of your technology and tools should align with ALTA Best Practices Pillar 3, be certified with the highest industry standards (ISO 27001), and be able to provide a report drafted by independent auditors (SOC 2 Type II).
  • Does the system offer a single, unified platform for closings? A unified closing platform will not only reduce the number of entry points for a potential attacker but also enable your team to complete the closing process more efficiently by eliminating the need to log into separate platforms and portals to complete different tasks. A unified platform also improves the client experience. Instead of navigating multiple systems, clients log into one familiar place to access and share wire instructions, retrieve and share documents, verify their identity, and communicate with your team.
  • Does the system have built-in fraud education, risk assessment reviews, and security features across its suite of products? Features like multi-factor authentication (MFA), role-based access control, allowed IPs, and single sign-on (SSO) should be standard across the platform. The platform’s client portal should provide secure communication, while its built-in wire fraud detection tools should offer identity verification, wire fraud education, and multivariable risk assessments (more on this below).

Assessing wire fraud detection solutions

The FBI’s latest Internet Crime Report shows that the real estate sector saw almost $150 million in losses from wire fraud in 2023. In response, title & escrow companies are investing in solutions to better protect their businesses from this persistent threat. However, not all wire fraud detection solutions are created equal. Below are a few points to consider when evaluating your options:

  • Many wire fraud detection solutions on the market offer only one or two methods to mitigate the risk of fraud. To better fortify your business, consider solutions with multilayered risk assessments. Qualia Shield, for example, offers multivariable risk assessments that help teams assess users’ bank accounts and identities for potential wire fraud risk. 
  • Your internal team may know when something seems suspicious; however, a typical homebuyer likely doesn’t know the signs of a wire fraud attempt. Consider technology that includes built-in wire fraud education as part of the user flow. 
  • Your internal workflows are critical to maintaining secure processes during the wire transfer process; however, tasks can sometimes slip through the cracks when things move quickly. There’s also a risk that internal team members might be acting negligently or even fraudulently. Consider a technology solution with built-in settings to reinforce workflows that help reduce risk. For example, with Qualia Shield, admins can configure settings and require that team members complete a risk assessment review and acknowledge the assessment findings before funds can be disbursed.

Security is the number one feature you should assess in your technology solutions

Wire fraud and cybercrime in real estate have reached an all-time high and no business is immune from an attack.

Your technology is a baseline defense against cyber criminals. Therefore, the security of your systems must be prioritized above any other feature or capability.  At Qualia, security has always been part of our DNA. Along with extensive resources committed to product and technology infrastructure security, Qualia fosters a security-first culture among its team and our entire user community.

Click below to learn more about Qualia’s wire fraud detection solutions.

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