Ransomware and the art of MLS maintenance

Real Estate Agent with Jameson Sotheby's International Realty

A recent thread on a popular Facebook Realtor group raised the issue of Ransomware.  The MLS in the city of Sacramento had its MLS hacked, and held for ransom.  The city of Baltimore had all of its software hacked and held for ransom.

The original poster of the thread posited that it was a good idea for every MLS to put $25,000 in bitcoin, in preparation to be able to pay the inevitable ransom demand.

1) I called "bull-puckey"... I don't believe in paying terrorists, and this would qualify.  It sets a horrible precedent, and it's just a stupid idea in the long run, for a short-term fix.  (not to mention that Bitcoin is wildly volatile, and that $25K set aside could be worth $300 in a matter of a few days).

2) I suggested the money be better spent to invest in redundant back-up systems, and written policies and plans on the part of the listing service, to determine how to react and what to respond if the worst-case scenario arrives.

It made me wonder if our MLS (Midwest Real Estate Data, LLC) had any of those... redundant back up systems, written policy, and/or a plan on how to deal with a hijacking.

I checked in with Kristina at MRED, and no surprise... they DO have a written policy/plan, they DO have redundant back-ups, and even more.... they have Cyber Insurance to cover them in the case of an attack.


Posted by

 ALAN MAY, Realtor®   
Specializing in Evanston Real Estate and North Shore Real Estate

Jameson Sotheby's International Realty, 2934 Central Street, Evanston, IL 60201
Office: 847.869.7300      Cell: 847.924.3313      Email: Almay@aol.com

Evanston Real Estate & North Shore Real Estate
Licensed in Illinois



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Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

Hmmmm...I guess our MLS would not have a backup;...just an uneducated guess...

Jun 26, 2019 10:53 AM #1
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

They seem to be well prepared, and probably let people know as well so like any thiefs, the hackers will go elsewhere and look for an easier target.

Jun 26, 2019 11:22 AM #2
Anna Banana Kruchten CRS CRB, Phoenix Broker
HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000 - Phoenix, AZ

Alan May this is a really good subject for all of us to consider. I have no idea of what our MLS backup plans might be but I sure will find out.

Jun 26, 2019 11:44 AM #3
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

Good information and something for us all to think about 

We dont nee to bow to bullies we need to fight them

Jun 26, 2019 12:00 PM #4
Dario Ferreira
Attleboro, MA
Internet Marketing

They could also invest some money to learn how vulnerable they actually are by hiring a cyber penetration specialist.

Jun 26, 2019 12:47 PM #5
Debe Maxwell, CRS
www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

I'm amazed at how many businesses end up paying to get their encrypted data back. I would also like to know how much money is put toward preventing another attack or are they still vulnerable.

Jun 26, 2019 12:53 PM #6
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Alan- I like your idea for the same reason...I don't believe in supporting or paying terrorists. It only encourages them...duh!  And I'm glad that your MLS takes the same attitude. 

Jun 26, 2019 06:29 PM #7
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Alan you are preaching to the Choir here, I have Bitdefender on top of the regular protection and then to boot Carbonite  is a secondary backup for me....no Bitcoins here, Endre

Jun 26, 2019 06:56 PM #8
Jerry Lucas
ABC Legal Docs LLC - Colorado Springs, CO
Mobile Notary Colorado Springs, CO Notary Training

The cost of extra data storage is so cheap there is no reason to pay ransom. Always keep one recent backup copy offline, disconnected from the internet. My offline backup fits on a Samsung USB flash drive, stored in a fireproof safe.

I also have hourly backups to remote encrypted SpiderOak cloud storage in another state. My local Acronis True Image Backup software runs every 12 hours to two Samsung USB flash drives. It includes anti-ransomware protection.

New decentralized/distributed storage technology is coming using the blockchain, Storj and InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). Centralized storage of files at one location is very risky. Decentralization, redundancy and blockchain hash values are used for robust data storage and security.

Jun 26, 2019 07:33 PM #9
Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

The Ransomware was a real nightmare here in Baltimore City. Affected closings. Could not even get a water bill. 

Jun 26, 2019 10:32 PM #10
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

This is such art that might be beyond my understanding. Good on you‘ That’s awesome! :)

Jun 26, 2019 11:35 PM #11
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Margaret, you would definitely know better than I would. Or maybe I just value your wisdom in these matters. :) Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland

Jun 26, 2019 11:47 PM #12
Pardeep Garg
Translation Light - Prince Edward, ON
I am finance observer I love to analyse on market

Thanks for Sharing valuable information

Jun 27, 2019 12:34 AM #13
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

Interesting; I wonder about the state of our MLS system. Actually, about every system I use. 

Jun 27, 2019 02:38 AM #14
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

The world of predator-prey is one of constant vigilance

Jun 27, 2019 06:20 AM #15
Richard Bazinet /MBA, CRS, ABR
West USA Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Phoenix Scottsdale. Sellers, Buyers & Relocations

It's an unbelievable malaise and crime spree affecting not only individuals, but also the private and public sectors. It seems that recently, two cities in Florida actually paid those criminals. Why isn't our gvts and FBI chasing those perpetrators as real crimes rather than spending millions of dollars on public funds on political activism and personal bias chasing down fake made up alleged crimes that lead nowhere - is beyond me.

And why we don't develop better technologies and expertise of your IT people to fight such crimes is more incredulous.

Jun 27, 2019 06:27 AM #16
Linda Metallo DiBenardo
RE/MAX Impact, Lockport, Illinois - Lockport, IL

Good to know MRED is prepared.    Thanks Alan.

Jun 27, 2019 01:13 PM #17
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg Real Estate

We are very lucky to have such a forward thinking MLS. Thanks for finding all that out Alan.

Jun 27, 2019 04:32 PM #18
Bruce Brockmeier
Internet Marketing Consultant to REALTORS® - Yorba Linda, CA
Coached By Crouch

You’re right. No payments should be made to computer terrorists.

Now I wonder how many MLSs are NOT prepared?

Jun 27, 2019 10:46 PM #19
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Oh my, I need to check our MLS to see what the policy is. Thanks for the headsup.

Jun 28, 2019 07:58 AM #20
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