United States Title Insurance Trade Association: Preventing Malicious File Uploads

When the American Land Title Association (ALTA) decided to expand the ALTA Title & Settlement Agent Registry (ALTA Registry) to allow members to upload compliance and oversight documentation, it chose Deep Secure Threat Removal to prevent malicious file uploads.

Business Challenge

Protect a Cloud Based Data Warehouse

ALTA is the national trade association for more than 6,400 title insurance agents, abstracters and underwriters. Members range from small, one-county operations, to large national title insurers across the United States.

The ALTA Registry is a cloud-based data warehouse that provides an accurate and timely source of title agent information for all participants in mortgage transactions.  

The ALTA Registry dataset is being expanded to include information needed by title insurance underwriters and lenders to meet some of their regulatory oversight obligations, specifically evidence of Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance.

While E&O insurance is a standard business requirement, nobody competes on its oversight, typically it is not heavily invested in.  The ALTA Registry has set about changing that by creating a single source for E&O data for oversight activities. 

By leveraging the latest technology, the ALTA Registry will create a better solution for this important compliance requirement.  With the automation of document uploads as PDFs and OCR extract of meta data from documents from thousands of small businesses it was recognised that the expansion came with its own risks: One of which is PDF embedded malware.

The business challenge was to ensure that malware concealed inside the images could not be inadvertently uploaded into the ALTA Registry and potentially downloaded by users. 


Deep Secure Cloud APIs

ALTA chose Deep Secure Threat Removal as a Service (TRaaS) to ensure uploads are threat free. The service provides a REST cloud API to enable applications to post files to be cleaned and to retrieve the clean files.

The ALTA application extracts the PDF files and passes them to the Deep Secure service for cleaning before storing them in the Registry. Threat Removal uses transformation and verification to ensure content is free from malware. During transformation, only the valid business information is extracted from an image. The original is then discarded. The valid business information is verified before being used to create an entirely new file for storage in the ALTA Registry.

This approach is radically different to traditional detection-based technologies such as anti-virus and sandboxing that attackers have become adept at evading.


Elegant and Simple Solution

The ALTA Registry is a national database of title and settlement agents, built as a utility for the U.S. mortgage lending industry.  It is a national, data warehouse for title agents, serving mortgage lenders and title insurance underwriters, and ultimately the consumer. It is vital that it cannot be exploited to act as a vector for the distribution of malware concealed in uploaded images.

“We examined other technologies before selecting Deep Secure but we did not find a suitable solution that focused on threat removal from images.  This was key as the uploading of images is an integral part of our program,” commented ALTA Registry Director Paul Martin.

“Ultimately, we chose Deep Secure because of its reputation and the elegant simplicity of its solution.”

“Threat Removal as a Service behaves like a custom-built solution – as if it were designed for our program, when in reality, it’s an off-the-shelf product.”


Case Studies

United States Title Insurance Trade Association: Preventing Malicious File Uploads