Coffee Talk: Cyber Attacks Don’t Stop the Need for Recording – They Just Make It “Old School”

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Since 2017, there have been more than 3,600 ransomware attacks on local, state and tribal government entities. Last September, the County Clerk’s office in Suffolk County, the fourth largest county in New York in terms of population, was one of those targets. For more than two months, the office, as well as other parts of the county government, were offline. As one county official told the New York Times: “We’re going back to the 1990s.”

Then in December, one of the largest third-party providers of land record management systems was attacked, and this, in turn, disrupted recording activities for more than 400 government clients, including dozens of county recording officers around the country.

As an industry leader in document processing and filing, how did these events affect NTC and its clients? Brian Ernissee, NTC Vice President – Document Production, shared how the company handled these events and managed business continuity for clients.

“The vast majority of all our filings—assignments and lien releases are handled entirely electronically: more than 120,000 each month,” Ernissee said. “So, when disruptions like the ones we saw last year occur, we have to pivot quickly. But we have procedures in place for these eventualities.”

In the case of Suffolk County, NTC immediately switched to a conventional paper process while tracking and monitoring existing electronic records in the county’s pipeline to ensure the county either recorded or rejected those documents waiting for recordation.

Additionally, NTC implemented an alternative handling to allow clients to “duplicate” previously sent documents again for a paper process rather than waiting for the electronic process to get back to normal.

They also provided continual updates to clients on the county’s progress, tagging documents for special attention and comments for later use in justifying any risk exposure to clients.

In the case of Suffolk County, NTC manually processed more than 1,700 recordings during the shutdown. But the total recordings affected by the ransomware attack probably ranged as high 3,500 – 4,000 documents.

In addition to recording, cyber-attacks can also affect title search and document retrieval, because abstractors aren’t able to get what they need during county shutdowns. At NTC, however, extensive research services and backup solutions, like going directly to title plants, which became a more common solution, allowed for the retrieval of documents and information during county closures. In most cases, the counties brought their online records back up before their recording services.

“As a leader in document processing, NTC is continually reviewing and updating our processes to be prepared to provide the highest level of service and compliance in the face of any eventuality whether it is a cyber-attack or a physical disruption, like a fire or flood at a recorder’s office,” Ernissee added. Learn more about NTC’s document processing in the below video.

Since being acquired in 2021, NTC now has the ability to leverage its parent, Covius’, national footprint to deliver various mortgage-related documents for recording at counties nationwide. This facilitates even more robust business continuity. Learn more about Covius solutions.

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