Norfolk County Register of Deeds William O’Donnell was a recent guest speaker at Boston College’s Advancing Studies program at Wood’s College on the issue of managing cybersecurity policies in government. The Registry is the principal office for more than 5,000,000 land recorded documents dating back to 1793.
“Information technology is like ‘Beauty or the Beast’. It provides for so many technological breakthroughs that make it easier for property owners to receive and analyze information. Today, Registry patrons can view any documents from the comfort of their home and office. Business owners can download documents from their computers if they have an account and anyone can be notified for security purposes when a real estate document has been recorded or updated at the Registry with their name on it by signing up for a free program. You can even come to our office hours and we can print out a copy of your deed from our laptops,” noted Register O’Donnell.
But managing a multitude of information can be a ‘beast’ of a job, especially when it comes to cybersecurity. O’Donnell stated, “Whether you are a government agency, a business, a non-profit or just at home on your computer you can be vulnerable to a cyberattack. A recent CBS article noted that in 2013, 7% of all U.S. organizations lost one million dollars or more and 19% of all U.S. organizations lost $50,000 or more to cybercrime. Cyberattacks are now ‘business as usual’ around the world.”
The Register also noted that approximately eleven years ago Registries of Deeds throughout the Commonwealth made a deliberate decision not to accept real estate documents anymore with social security numbers on it and to go back into their recordings to redact these numbers. “At first we did receive some pushback from some of the financial institutions, but today I think everyone would agree that it was the right call.”
Register O’Donnell, told the graduate students that the best way to manage when it comes to preventing a cybersecurity attack is through communication, training and assessments. “Make sure that you’re I.T. department talks to everyone and that includes experts in the field as well as those who have been through cyberattacks. Cyberattacks can be accidently triggered by anyone in an organization so repeated training of the work staff is a necessity. Also, when looking to assess your system, don’t be afraid to bring in an outside pair of eyes as well. The insight and knowledge that a cybersecurity audit can bring to the organization is extremely valuable.”
“In conclusion, I want to praise Boston College for recently developing a Master of Science Program in Cybersecurity Policy & Security Governance. There is no doubt that cybersecurity is in the forefront when it comes to managing an institution. I am sure we will see more schools of higher learning following Boston College’s lead in developing such curriculum. I also appreciate Professor Bill O’Keefe’s invitation to speak to his very attentive classs,” stated Register O’Donnell.
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The Norfolk County Registry of Deeds, located at 649 High Street, Dedham is the principal office for real property in Norfolk County. The Registry is a resource for homeowners, title examiners, mortgage lenders, municipalities and others with a need for secure, accurate, accessible land record information. Residents in need of assistance can contact the Registry of Deeds Customer Service Center at (781) 461-6101, or on the web at www.norfolkdeeds.org.