Small businesses are getting hit hard. Starting with government directed closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic and now the most recent looting and protestor damage. Small businesses are more vulnerable than ever. If you own a small business be on the lookout for cybersecurity threats and learn more on how to protect your business.
Small Businesses must on the lookout for cybersecurity threats!
Small businesses have been besieged on all fronts. First, out of left field they were struck by COVID-19 and the loss of business. Then knocked down by the most recent violent protests. All these hits create multiple vulnerabilities to yet another threat; cybersecurity attacks. Now more than ever, small businesses need to be aware of an impending cybersecurity breach. Enigma Forensics focuses on cybersecurity and would like to share what are the most common cybersecurity threats and how small businesses can protect themselves.
What are the most common security threats?
There are three common cybersecurity threats each small business owner must be aware of; Malware, viruses, and phising. Malware is an umbrella name for a software designed to attack and destroy computers, servers, and to obtain client information. Malware can be engineered in many different malicious ways. Viruses are designed as a computer program that replicates itself and inserts code into your system to modify existing programs. It basically creates havoc in your system and is extremely difficult to delete. Phising is inserted by a clicking on or opening an email that presents itself as a legitimate email. It sparks curiosity and plays on the simplest of emotions.
What are some easy tips for small businesses to protect themselves?
Enigma Forensics encourages everyone to purchase cybersecurity insurance. This can help defer costs if you are attacked. We definitely suggest to hire a professional to assess your system and identify risks. Another less costly tip is to change your passwords. Make them as difficult and unique as possible and don’t store them on your systems. Be sure to include mobile device security if you or your employees check emails on mobile devices. Train your employees to recognize cybersecurity threats and how to avoid and report them.
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See the link below for The Department of Homeland Security guide
Enigma Forensics President Lee Neubecker wonders why politicians are not following the same CDC directives that we have to. Lee interviews Geary Sikich, President of Logical Management Systems. What are your thoughts? Check out this video interview.
The Transcript of the Video Follows.
Lee Neubecker (LN): This is going to be a short segment about why Congress, Senate, the President, why they’re not practicing, even the governor, why they’re not practicing the recommendations to keep separation and they’re doing these press conferences full of people putting everyone at risk when they can use tools like Zoom and still have the communication but not have the personal interaction. I mean, the Senate’s likely going to all have this thing soon and because they have to vote in person, that’s going to be a real problem if they can’t get something passed and they’re all sick.
Geary Sikich (GS): Yeah, you know, they broached that yesterday during one of their news conferences and Trump was saying that he would like to see them be able to operate remotely but he was saying that it might be a constitutional issue where that may preclude them. They may actually have to show up.
LN: But maybe they could debate everything on a tool like-
LN: Zoom or WebEx and then come in to cast their vote one at a time in isolation so that they’re not around each other.
GS: Yeah, I think that’s … They should be investigating a lot of different options, but they’re not
LN: Why is the president standing next to his advisors, you know, within a foot of them. You have the vice president, the president. They’re all standing next to each other. They should be … The need to have everyone crammed into the White House briefing room, they could be using technology and spacing out so that people aren’t on top of one another.
GS: Yeah, I mean, even if you noticed the media on TV, when you’re watching the news and whatnot, like-
LN: So they have one blank seat. But that’s not six feet away.
GS: No, but I’m saying the media on TV has got separation, like this morning I’m watching NBC on morning news, and they’ve got them sitting. You know, it’s just a wider angle for the camera, and it wouldn’t be that difficult because I’ve noticed the same thing in every press briefing I see, whether it’s the president or the governors, or any of them. There is a kind of a cluster of people around them, which is typical of the way it used to be and it’s not advisable now.
LN: Yeah, but it’s certainly something that should be looked at. I think it’s important that we do everything we can to keep the infection rate from spiking quickly. We know in Italy, when it spiked the way it was, the death rate goes up to 10%.
GS: Yeah, Italy is, it’s scary because everything they have done, they, unfortunately, got … got into it a bit late because they kept their borders open way too long and they allowed things to kind of transpire that now puts them into, you know, the situation being number two as far as fatalities and as far as case rate. Once they started, and they’ve shut down the entire country, now they’re actually shutting down the transportation systems within the country to try to contain this.
LN: It’s something else. And then with spring break, all the students coming back from Florida, California. They’re all at the beaches. This is going to transfer, and they’re going to be bringing their family members a special gift home.
GS: Yeah, it scares me about the fact that we allowed the spring break festivities to go on the way they did, that the governors weren’t a little bit more proactive in that regard, and that the people themselves… Granted, you’re young, you feel like you’re invincible. But the reality is, you’re not. And the once-in-a-lifetime spring break is not all that great as it is. Having not gone to any spring breaks when I was in school, other than the trip out West and whatnot, but … the value of it is far offset by the jeopardy you put yourself in from a health standpoint.
LN: Yeah, absolutely. Well, thanks for coming on the show again to talk about this.
GS: Great, enjoyed it. Well, I’m sure we’ll see each other again virtually.
Most voters think the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s office is ground zero of what’s wrong ethically in Cook County government. Candidate Jacob Meister vows to clean up the office and deliver much needed ethical reform.
Enigma Forensics President & CEO Lee Neubecker interviews Jacob Meister, who is running for the office of Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court. Lee is interested to learn more about what Jacob Meister plans to do in his first 90 days in office.
View Part 2 of our 4-Part Series on Jacob Meister, Candidate for Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court
The Video Transcript follows
Lee Neubecker: Hi, I have Jacob Meister, who’s running for Cook County Clerk of the Court. He’s back on my show today. Jacob, thanks for coming back on.
Jacob Meister: Thank you for having me.
LN: So, as a candidate for Cook County Clerk of the Court, which is one of the largest court systems in the U.S., what do you see as your top priority in your first 90 days in terms of fixing a big problem that needs to be addressed?
JM: Well, the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s office is ground zero of what’s wrong ethically in Cook County government, you know? The voters in recent years have elected a new Cook County Assessor, Fritz Kaegi, a new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, and have made clear that they demand ethical reform, in government, and the Clerk of the Circuit Court is ground zero of what needs to be fixed. This is an office that for decades and decades has been plagued with political patronage, political workers getting jobs at the public expense in order to do political work. We have to stop that, and in my first months in office, I want to make sure that we are cleaning up the office to make sure that we are delivering taxpayers value for their money and that employees are dedicated first, foremost and exclusively to serving the public interest in the clerk’s office. We cannot get over the operational problems that this office has until we first clean up the ethical issues. So, I want to make sure that the patronage in the office comes to an end. That we comply, there’s currently a federal decree, it’s called the Shakman Decree, that the office is under that requires patronage to hiring, to not be done by patronage. I want to make sure that people are promoted from within, not given these political jobs where employees are beholden to the party machine.
LN: Great, well, thanks for being on the show, Jacob.
Does your employer require your fingerprint when you clock in for work? That fingerprint is considered private biometric information. BIPA is the Illinois law that protects its use. Experts Lee Neubecker and David Rownd share how this law affects employers that have Illinois based employees.
Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) is a law that covers the employer’s use of biometric information of its employees. Biometrics are the physiological means to gather an individual’s uniqueness. The oldest most widely used is a fingerprint but other biometric identifiers may be also used such as; facial recognition, photos, retina scan, voice recognition, ear shape, and hand scans all are considered private biometric information. The Illinois BIPA law is designed to govern, secure, store and prohibit the sale of biometric information. Forensic Expert Lee Neubecker and David Rownd from Vedder Price discuss how BIPA may affect employers that have satellite offices in Illinois.
Part 1 of a 3 Part Series on Illinois’ Biometric Information Protection Act
The Video Transcript on BIPA: How It May Affect Employers in Illinois.
Lee Neubecker (LN): Hi I am here again with David Rownd from Vedder Price. Thanks for being on the show David
DavidRownd (DR): Thanks for having me
LN: David is an attorney that specializes in defending class action lawsuits also employment litigation, trade secret theft, and misappropriation. I asked him to come on the show today to talk a little bit about BIPA which is the Illinois Biometric Information Protection Act and specifically he deals with a lot of trading security-related financial services firms and since that law applies to Illinois and many trading firms in New York have satellite offices I wanted him to talk a little bit about the act and some of the concerns that employers should have if they have employees working in Illinois. So, David, can you tell us a little bit about BIPA what it is and what it entails?
DR: Basically it covers the employers use of biometric information of its employees and this can be a retinal scan it can be a fingerprint it can be a number of different things and it can be used for time cards access to the workplace and things like that and employers are using biometric information because its an easy way to keep track of employees. However, it is also a privacy issue and that’s where the BIPA comes in and BIPA is intended to regulate employers ability to utilize biometric information and put certain requirements on them for notifying employees they are using it and notifying employees why they are using it keeping written records of the biometric information and it specifically prohibits the sale of biometric information to third parties.
LN: It’s especially troublesome too because if you lose your biometric unique identifiers you can’t necessarily get those back unlike a social security number you could replace a social security number but if someone is able to copy your retina scan your fingerprints what not it could cause a lot of permanent damage.
DR: That’s true you only get one of those things
LN: So we will be talking later in the series next well be talking a little bit about what employers should do before they land in trouble with BIPA to help protect against finding themselves embroiled in litigation and then finally we’ll talk a little bit about some of the national happenings with Facebook and other entities who have been en snagged in the BIPA trap and we’ll conclude with there so thanks for being on the show today.
DR: Oh thanks for having me.
View related Employment Litigation articles on our website.
Forensic Experts Lee Neubecker and Cat Casey from DISCO discuss Artificial Intelligence (AI) as it relates to improving Legal technology.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) thinks, learns and problem solves more efficiently than humans. AI is all around us and in almost everything we touch, it is an algorithm that is designed to make our lives easier and is sometimes referred to as machine learning.
In the case of litigation, it can save time and money by streamlining the process of document review, eDiscovery, and preparation for forensic cases. Computer Forensic Expert, Lee Neubecker and Catherine “Cat” Casey who is the Chief Innovation Officer for DISCO discuss how AI works to improve legal technology.
DISCO is a leader in legal technology is a developer of a cloud-native eDiscovery software for law firms designed to automate and simplify error-prone tasks. They provide a myriad of different types of analytics that will supercharge searching data dramatically reducing time and money.
Part 1 of our Three-Part Series on Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The Video Transcript Follows.
Lee Neubecker (LN): Hi, I’m here today with Cat Casey from CS DISCO. Thanks for being on the show.
Cat Casey (CC): My pleasure.
LN: We’re going to talk a little about artificial intelligence as it relates to eDiscovery and document review. Cat, can you tell us just a little bit about what your firm does to help speed up the review process and lower costs for clients.
CC: Absolutely, we’re a cloud-native AI-powered eDiscovery company. And what that means is we’ve got vast amounts of elastic computational power that we can use to run a myriad of different types of analytics on data to supercharge your searching and dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes you to get to that key actionable evidence. So, we’ve kind of flipped everything on its head. Instead of being a question of how quickly can I read through all of this data, it’s how laparoscopically can I surgically find all of that key information. The results that we’re seeing are pretty resounding. Up to 60% reduction in time to get to that key evidence. Freeing up attorneys to get back to what they went to school for, the practice of law. It’s pretty compelling. We’ve had some pretty interesting additions, including even today, we just announced, I think, the first true AI in eDiscovery with AI model sharing. Basically, with each iteration, with each type of case that you conduct with DISCO, our algorithms are getting smarter. We’re extracting insights and building in more robust taxonomy and analytic structure to parse data, which is going to yield better and better results for our clients. It’s truly exciting.
LN: So we’ve come a long way from the early days when the attorneys wanted everything printed and Bates-labeled before they looked at it. To now, moving ahead using TAR, technology-assisted review, like artificial intelligence, which fits into that, correct?
CC: 100%, we have a continual active learning model, so it’s more reinforcement learning than a standard supervised learning model. Basically, from the coding of document one, our algorithm’s getting smarter and making recommendations on highly likely to be similar documents. We battle test the algorithm on an ongoing basis. Whether it is an affirmative or a negative for a suggested document, the algorithm learns more, and because of that, we prioritize the most relevant information quickly and people are able to then accelerate their review speeds by up to, I think we’ve had over 180 docs per hour. So, it’s pretty compelling and this is just the beginning.
LN: So your platform’s all in the cloud, correct? So companies or law firms, they need no infrastructure other than a browser?
CC: 100%, the nice thing, in my prior life, I ran a global discovery program, and I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars a year just to keep pace, just to have storage, just to have basic replication and back up, and all of that. Now, even a small firm, all the way up to an Am Law One firm or a massive Fortune One company, they can have the same robust technology without having to set up a data center, without having to invest a ton of money. It lets everyone level up and has a better experience throughout the discovery process.
LN: One of the challenges a lot of my clients always have is they have a need to understand what the costs are going to be and to be able to communicate to their clients those expectations so they’re not throwing their clients on the eDiscovery rollercoaster of non-controllable bills. How does DISCO help to address those concerns?
CC: Transparency is a major pain point. One of the banes of my existence used to be trying to normalize this pricing model versus this, versus this service provider, versus this technology. We just throw that all out. We charge one flat amount per gig. It includes analytics. It includes processing. It includes everything, and we work with you to get the volume of data that is being applied to that one flat cost per gig down. It eliminates that hide the ball gotcha moment and it gives a lot of transparency. And of course, if someone wants a different model, we’re happy to accommodate that. But in general, straight, simple, honest. It’s really rewarding for our clients.
LN: So, what cases, what types of litigation case matters do you see as having some of the best benefits of being migrated into your platform?
CC: Yeah, I think any case can. If you’re a tiny company, it helps you be David versus Goliath. Even on a small data volume case, you can start getting insights and reduce the amount of time you’re having to spend doing something maybe you can’t chargeback for. For a big massive case, because we are an AWS and we were built on kind of convolutional neural networking, we’re moving, and we have such a robust computational lift, even we’ve had 150 million documents with hundreds of users and we still have sub one second page to page. We are still lightning fast. And so, whether it’s a big case, a simple case, a complex case, there is a value proposition for almost anyone.
LN: In terms of the types of law firms that are using your platform, do you see many smaller, medium-size firms using your–
CC: Tons, actually tons. That was where we got our teeth. Boutique, we started as a boutique law firm. We actually were a bunch of attorneys that were frustrated that all the tools were terrible, and so they built their own. And so, the foundation of DISCO, we had a family of tons of boutique law firms that we were supporting, we still do to this day. The tool we built though, had a longer vision. It was built to be much bigger and more scalable, and as a result, that’s why you’re seeing us with major, the WilmerHales of the world, very large firms and very large corporations because the tool itself can scale up so much.
LN: Great, what are some of the challenges of working, that law firms find that already have entrenched solutions? There are other review products out there and if they really want to make the benefit of your platform, don’t they have to kind of fully use it for the case?
CC: I would say you probably don’t want to split the baby with a case. If you’re processing with another tool, you’re not going to get the same benefit as working with DISCO. But you don’t have to move your entire litigation portfolio to DISCO day one. We’re seeing a lot of people that are sunsetting Legacy Product and Legacy Platforms moving towards DISCO, but it’s not, “I’m going to move every single case today.” It’s going forward, we’re going to start bringing in new cases. There tends to be such an improved experience and improved UI for the attorneys that they start to not want to use the other technology as much.
LN: I know as a computer forensic expert, oftentimes we’re going out initially collecting and forensically preserving the data. But your product sounds like it would be right for a firm that does forensics that needs to collect different data from computers, possibly harvest just an email. Filter the dates and times of the email to a PST and then they can take those PSTs and upload it into your platform, correct?
CC: 100% and we also, we’ve productized some advanced ECA, where we charge a much, much lower rate. So, you get three months no cost hosting. It’s half the usual rate, and you can do ECA for up to three months. And the goal of that is to let’s whittle down to the most surgical, teeny, tiny, laparoscopic piece of data set that you can have. An example was we had a 20 million document case and we were able to run the ECA, get it down to about 5.6 million documents. Run more coaling, run our analytics, get it down to about 200,000 documents. And usually, that would be when you have to review every single one, but we were able to, with our workflow, with CAL, get it down to 140,000 documents. And so, if you think 50 bucks an hour, an attorney can only do 50 docs an hour, the cost savings is monumental.
LN: So as someone uses your platform and they start to tag and prioritize certain documents, your software learns based on that taking. It helps find related concepts to those conversations and what not?
CC: 100%, 100%.
LN: So really, the more that are reviewed as responsive, similar concepts and whatnot so that important links aren’t missed.
CC: 100% and because we do automatic batching, is every new batch of documents a person gets because we’ve applied this artificial intelligence and continual active learning model, it is a more relevant subset of data and people are able to go through it more faster. And sometimes, they will get to a point where they can say, “I’ve hit all my relevant information. “The rest is not relevant. “I’m going to sample it and statistically determine “I don’t have to review those last 100,000 documents “that maybe aren’t relevant,” and it’s pretty cool.
LN: In our next segment, we’re going to be talking What the trends are in the industry impacting law and eDiscovery. And then finally, we’ll talk about some of the pitfalls of what companies, organizations, and law firms face if they don’t embrace artificial intelligence to help make their review process more efficient. Well, thanks for being on the show.
CC: My pleasure.
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View DISO’s website to learn more about AI trends in Legal Industry
Cyber Security & Computer Forensics Expert Lee Neubecker and Data Privacy Expert Debbie Reynolds discuss recent efforts to pass legislation in the House and Senate that would hold telecommunication providers responsible for addressing the ever growing tide of robocalls disrupting consumers and businesses. Existing laws such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) have proven effective in blocking off shore robocalls. VOIP technology allows for robocall centers to systematically dial U.S. consumers and businesses from beyond the legal reach of our court system. Popular spoofing techniques such as Neighborhood Calling often impersonate the first 6 digits of the call receiver’s phone number in the hope of enticing that call receiver to answer a call. Neubecker and Reynolds both share their frustrations with the current situation and are hopeful the U.S. Senate and the President will take immediate action to pass updated privacy legislation protecting us all from spam robocalls.
The transcript of the video follows:
Lee Neubecker: I’m here today with Debbie Reynolds. We’re going to be talking a little bit about robocall and some new legislation coming our way. Those annoying phone calls we all get on our cellphones.
Debbie Reynolds: That’s right.
Lee Neubecker: Have you gotten any calls where it’s the first six digits of your phone number?
Debbie Reynolds: Yes!
Lee Neubecker: That’s called “neighborhood calling”. And basically, what the bad guys are doing is that they’re using VOIP technology to spoof, and they’re plugging in any number. So they can actually impersonate people you know. But they do this because they think that it increases the likelihood that you’ll answer the phone. In fact, for me, when I see those first six digits, I’m not even going to answer it.
Debbie Reynolds: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. It’s wrong or what now?
Lee Neubecker: One of the big problems we have is no one’s taking accountability for this. I heard AT&T is trying to force some authentication mechanisms, but there needs to be some more teeth on this so that people can’t just impersonate phone numbers, or we’ll never get through this.
Debbie Reynolds: Absolutely, absolutely. Actually, so, thankfully this law passed, right?
Lee Neubecker: Well, it’s going through. It passed under the House, overwhelmingly
Debbie Reynolds: Overwhelming, yeah.
Lee Neubecker: They’re hoping that… It said it could happen by 2020, perhaps?
Debbie Reynolds: Okay, that’d be good.
Lee Neubecker: But it’s got to… I think they have to reconcile the two bills, the House and senate, and then the President has to sign it. But by the show of votes, I think everyone’s in favor of let’s tackle all these annoying robocalls.
Debbie Reynolds: Absolutely. So the FCC, they really made a lot of headway many years ago on the Do Not Call Registry, so this will be sort of another layer to that, that the FCC is sort of looking at. I don’t know about you, but I’m very annoyed when I get robocalls, so I’m not happy about this. Maybe it will happen after the election, because the election, people like to be robocalled.
Lee Neubecker: I get tons of calls from people wanting to lend me money, They will ring my phone once and then it will hit my voicemail. This woman keeps calling, saying, I want to speak to you. It’s like, and it’s not even a real person, It’s all automated. It’s annoying.
Debbie Reynolds: Oh, my goodness. Well, one interesting thing about the law, or the one that they’re anticipating, or trying to pass, that I haven’t seen in other laws like this, they’re trying to force companies to create technology, to be able to tell a robocall.
Lee Neubecker: The carriers need to enforce it. The carriers have to stop allowing unsecured VOIP to impersonate calls.
Debbie Reynolds: Right. The House does not allow it, but they specifically said they have to create, if it does exist, they have to create some technology to make sure they can tell a robocall from a normal call?
Lee Neubecker: It’s basically like, we’re going to block any call that isn’t using a means of identity verification. Right now, it’s about a bust.
Debbie Reynolds: And they can’t charge for it, so it’s not like an extra fee. I’m sure what’ll happen is they’ll do you another fee and then call it something else, but it’ll be probably just robocalls.
Lee Neubecker: The act also increased the penalty. Current legislation, the TCPA, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, dealt with spam faxes, calls, and what-not, but the robocall act is going to produce penalties I think to ten thousand dollars each.
Debbie Reynolds: Per incident.
Lee Neubecker: Per incident.
Debbie Reynolds: So that’s a lot.
Lee Neubecker: So that’s going to drive my TCPA consulting business, because that’s work.
Debbie Reynolds: Yeah, absolutely. Well, if it actually makes it, I’m sure the thing about the $10,000 per incident and also, forcing companies to create technology to be able to tell what’s a robocall, corporations or the carriers are probably going to fight that. So, we’ll see.
Lee Neubecker: Yeah. So Debbie, what are the likely impacts on the litigation environment, as you see it? If this legislation goes through?
Debbie Reynolds: Well, first of all, there will be companies that will, uh, I’m sure there will be consumer groups that want to bundle together consumer complaints and probably go after these carriers to try to get these big fines or whatever. So, this could be tying up the legislation for a while. Once the lawyers get their fees, You’ll probably want to get the $10,000 per incident.
Lee Neubecker: It’s going to make it a lot more, in my opinion, they will make it much easier to actually identify who’s behind it, because right now people are using proxy phone numbers to call and many of them are just total scams run out of the country. You can’t– A Nigerian spam call center, we can’t really go after, but if our carriers say they’re going to block these rogue, foreign VOIP connections, then it will make it more secure. Ultimately, you’ll probably have people who opt in to the insecure network, and people who want a secure-only platform where it’s no use calling them.
Debbie Reynolds: I agree.
Lee Neubecker: Thank you for being on the show today. It was great to have you on again. I love your scarf.
Debbie Reynolds: Thank you.
Lee Neubecker: You always have interesting scarves.
Cyber Security Forensics Expert, Lee Neubecker and Draw Bridge Lending CEO Jason Urban describe crypto currency and the security issues as it relates to Bitcoin and
The transcript of the interview follows:
Lee Neubecker: Hi, I have Jason Urban on the show today. He’s the President and CEO of DrawBridge Lending. Thanks for being on the show Jason.
Jason Urban: Thanks for having me, Lee. This is great, glad to be here today.
Lee Neubecker: Jason, I’ve known you for awhile. You’ve been doing some innovative things in the lending industry as it relates to bitcoin and block chain. Tell us a little bit about that. Jason Urban : Sure, so what we do is we’re a lender against secured digital asset holdings and what we are providing is the draw bridge, or the bridge, from these traditional lending sources, or pools of liquidity, into this new ecosystem where everybody is trying to figure out how that landscape works.
Lee Neubecker: What type of people would have a need for your service? Jason Urban: I think they’re are a wide variety of people. People who have these digital assets and because of the way they’re categorized here in the States from the IRS perspective, when you spend them, when you use them, you encounter a taxable situation, but to the extent that you might need to pay your power bill or to go on a vacation or buy that boat you always wanted, you need fiat, you need US dollars, and what we provide is a mechanism or platform for people to borrow against the digital asset holders.
Lee Neubecker: So, if someone’s sitting on say 100 bitcoin, which is quite a bit of money, you’d allow them to take out a loan against that bit coin and use that for short term cash expense or whatever?
Jason Urban: Yes
Lee Neubecker: What is the duration of your loans typically?
Jason Urban: We typically focus one to six months. It’s a very volatile asset, and our backgrounds are managing that volatility, but there’s only so much you can do when something moves as rapidly as that does, which is an advantage to the asset, but it’s also difficult from a lending capacity. So our loans are one to six months in duration, and we offer renewal options, so you can re-up and renew. Just the strike price of that loan to value, think about your home moving 50% in a six month period, you might want to refi or you might need to put more money up. We try to mitigate a lot of those risks by offering the durations we do.
Lee Neubecker: So, your clients actually give you their cryptocurrency and you escrow it for them?
Jason Urban: Yes, so what we do is we don’t like to take possession of their currency. What we like to do is use a qualified third party custodian so that their digital assets are resting there, so they know they’re there, and I can’t take them unless they default on a loan or something unfortunate happens. All we want to do is provide a mechanism or a platform for someone to monetize their holdings. We don’t want to take possession of them. We don’t want their private keys. We’ll only take those in the event that they default or want us to satisfy their loan.
Lee Neubecker: So in this business, what measures do you take to help ensure that these digital assets are safe from a cyber attack perspective?
Jason Urban: Well, part of it, the key for us, is cold storage. And cold storage is basically storing these things on a server or computer where it’s not connected to the internet. It can’t be taken, so we require that all our custodians deploy a cold storage method as opposed to a warm storage or a hot storage. That way we know that the gold is in the vault so to speak but that it’s not going to be readily accessible to anybody out there.
Lee Neubecker: Have you had a situation where a customer gets angry because a price fluctuates and they feel that they were cheated out of there value?
Jason Urban: Interestingly we don’t have that problem because of the mechanisms that we deploy on the back end. So all our loans are no margin call and non-recourse unlike a lot of people in the business that will have you retop. Think about it this way, if I issue you a loan on an asset that’s worth $10,000, and I give you 50% of that asset in cash, if the value of that asset goes from 10,000 to 5,000, I now need to create that cushion again, so you need to pay me more money or reup or figure out. What we’ve developed, and our methodology, is a way to never have to worry about that, and we use the financial markets. We’re markets experts, and we’re risk managers, so we have mechanisms by which we can ensure that you don’t have to worry about topping off your loan.
Lee Neubecker: Are there any restrictions on the type of customers you can have based on what the SEC imposes on you?
Jason Urban: We are very compliant, so we are registered by the CFDC, and we follow all the rules and regs imposed on us by them. We have to do AMLKYC, anti-money laundering know your customer. We’re registered as a non-bank lender in all 50, or in 31 states. We operate in all 50 states so that we’re following not only consumer lending laws but also securities laws and commodities laws.
Lee Neubecker: Are there any requirements you have on customers before you can take them as a client? Well one, we have to do the AMLKYC on them. Right now, our products are geared towards accredited investors. Because of the way we do the hedging on the back end we need to make sure that those customers are sophisticated enough to understand what we’re doing. And so in order to do that, we need to put that accredited investor cap on things. It’s a little different under the CFDC umbrella. They call them qualified exchange participants, or ECPs, so there’s a couple of different buckets you wear, but it’s a little different than the SEC’s accredited investor, but effectively it’s the same thing.
Lee Neubecker: Is there a minimum net worth that your customer’s have to have?
Jason Urban: And that’s part of it, a minimum net worth of a million dollars, or an entity that’s a million dollars that’s what we require.
Lee Neubecker: What sectors do you see that this type of lending is getting the most interest in terms of where your clients are coming from?
Jason Urban: A wide variety, if you really think about it, bitcoin, or digital assets as a whole, can be held by anyone. It isn’t a single group that says, “Hey, I’m really into this.” So we see funds, minors, people who were early adopters of the technology, they’ve all kind of stepped forward. Additionally, we’ve got a product that’s geared towards people who would like to buy bitcoin and want to employ some of the same methodologies that we’re employing right now.
Lee Neubecker: Do you have any closing thoughts you’d like to share?
Jason Urban: I think that people often confuse block chain and decentralized ledgers with bit coin. I think the block chain technology is interesting on so many levels. I think that as the world becomes more tokenized, and I think you’re going to see more and more of that, everything from the artwork that you see on the walls to buildings to physical assets like gold, silver, oil. The world is moving towards that technology and that methodology, and I think that being an early adopter and understanding it is so important. If you want to make the same parallels, this is the internet in 1990 or 1995. The difference is the world moves much faster today than it did back then.
Lee Neubecker: So are you taking investors?
Jason Urban: We’re always willing to have strategic investors come into the space, and we’re not opposed to that. We’re very well capitalized, but we do recognize the value in being partners with people. And part of being partners is financial as well.
Lee Neubecker: Well thanks again for being on the show.