Data leak exposes 24 million mortgage documents

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Jan 302019

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By G. Steven Bray

You may be wondering as I am about the recent data breach involving mortgage records. Unfortunately, I’ve found very little reporting about it, but what I have found is disturbing.

“Breach” probably isn’t the correct term for this event because the data was left on an unsecured server for at least two weeks until a security researcher discovered it on Jan 15th. The company responsible for the data, Ascension, was an analytics company for the mortgage industry, and the leaked data belonged several major banks as well as federal agencies including HUD.

The leak was significant – 24 million documents. The company that owned the server converted paper documents to digital records, and it’s those records that initially were exposed. The researcher who discovered the trove stated the records were not easy to follow, but research firm TechCrunch discovered Social Security numbers and other sensitive financial information and was able to verify the authenticity of the data through public records.

Ascension tracked the leak to one of its vendors, OpticsML, and it seems to be ducking the unwelcome notoriety. Ascension says it has initiated a forensic investigation and notified authorities. At least one of the impacted banks, Citi, said it’s working to identify potentially affected customers.