A recent ransomware attack on the technology company Rapattoni has sent shockwaves through the real estate industry.
Multiple listing services (MLS) hosted on the company’s servers were impacted, causing significant outages and inconveniences for hundreds of thousands of members. Rapattoni, its insurance companies, and federal investigators are currently negotiating with the data pirates.
Realtor associations and MLSs including Northwest Indiana Realtors Association, San Francisco Association of Realtors, and BAREIS MLS were amongst those most affected, with members unable to add, remove, or update listings. Such disruptions underscore the vulnerability of digital platforms and the importance of preparedness on the part of real estate professionals.
Given these cyber challenges, it is essential for real estate agents to be proactive in safeguarding their data and business operations. Here are key measures to consider:
1. Regular Data Backup:
Agents must routinely back up all data they input into the MLS. By ensuring data is stored in multiple places, they can mitigate the risk of total data loss during cyber-attacks. Historical information was safe for many in this particular incident because it was backed up on separate servers. But one can never be too careful.
2. Strong Password Practices:
The use of strong, unique passwords for each digital platform is crucial. Agents should avoid using easily guessable passwords, and consider utilizing a trusted password manager to keep track of their credentials.
3. Maintain a Robust Database:
A well-maintained database allows agents to connect directly with past and current clients. In cases where MLS tools are inaccessible, direct client contact becomes even more vital.
4. Diversify Property Advertising Methods:
While MLS entry is a key tool for real estate agents, it shouldn't be the only method for advertising property listings. Agents can utilize social media, personal websites, and other digital platforms to showcase properties.
5. Access Property Information Directly from Local Municipalities:
If MLS tools are down, agents should be adept at sourcing property information directly from local municipal databases. This ensures continuity in accessing vital property details for clients.
6. Stay Updated and Informed:
Regularly keeping tabs on industry news and updates will keep agents informed about potential threats. Platforms like our blog can be invaluable sources of timely information.
7. Collaborate and Share Knowledge:
The recent attack saw many real estate professionals coming together on platforms like Reddit to share workarounds and solutions. Collective wisdom can be an invaluable resource during crises.
The Rapattoni incident is a stark reminder of the ever-evolving cyber threats in today’s digital age. For real estate professionals, resilience in the face of such challenges requires foresight, preparation, and adaptability. While the immediate focus is on resolving the current crisis, the long-term lesson is clear: safeguarding data and diversifying operational strategies are no longer optional – they're imperative.
What strategies do you use to protect and back up your data? Leave a comment below or share with a colleague in an upcoming CE Class!
Rowe, C. C. (2023, August 11). Rapattoni hit with ransomware attack, paralyzing MLSs and agents. Inman.