Rapattoni reportedly restores service to its NorCal MLS network

Cyberattack on provider exposes tech fault lines in the brokerage industry

Rapattoni Reportedly Restores Service to NorCal MLS Network
A photo illustration of Rapattoni CEO Niki Rapattoni (Getty, Rapattoni)

Software provider Rapattoni Corp  has gradually restored service to its MLS systems, bringing to an end a more than two-week ransomware attack that left thousands of real estate agents, many in the San Francisco Bay Area, scrambling for vital information on their business.

Since late afternoon Aug. 22 and this morning, agents in San Francisco reported that they were able to log in to Rapattoni’s MLS and that the site had gradually restored text and photos for listings. 

The service freeze left some brokers questioning their reliance on a single MLS provider.

On its Instagram site, rapattonicorp, the Westlake Village-based software company posted that its “MLS is on its way back to our customers.” A call and emails to Rapatonni executives were not returned.

The attack started around Aug. 8 with agents unable to post new listings. The service freeze forced many to perform extra legwork, relying on phone and email to confirm information. 

Herman Chan, a Golden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty agent and host of the “SF Confidential” web series that appears on The Real Deal, said the freeze frustrated San Francisco agents who subscribed only to Rapattoni. Agents who also subscribed to MLS services in neighboring areas such as Contra Costa and Alameda counties were able to upload their listings. Chan uploaded updates on his San Francisco listings to neighboring boards during the service freeze.

Chan said the service freeze exposed fault lines in the way agents conduct business.

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“What is the alternative? Posting on Craigslist?” Chan recalled San Francisco agents posting on social media. “How can we be in the most technologically advanced city in the entire world and this is happening to us? It’s embarrassing.”

Cybersecurity professionals said online attacks are increasingly a cost of doing business. 

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“We are in a ‘when’ not ‘if’ world. The cost of getting hit is extraordinary and the current prevention tools aren’t stopping these attacks,” said Steve Hahn, vice president of BullWall, which runs a U.S. office in Wilmington, Del. He quoted research from cybersecurity firm Barracuda, which found 73 percent of companies will be the victims of a ransomware attack.

Clifford Neuman, director at University of Southern California’s Center for Computer Systems Security, said MLS systems are no more vulnerable to attacks than computer networks for other businesses. 

He also noted most victims do not pay a ransom after a cyberattack.

“Instead (they) restore their system from backups. It is important to note that even if one does pay a ransom, it does not guarantee that you will be provided with access again to your system, and even if the criminal provides one with the information needed to recover files, there is still a costly and time-consuming process to restore the system, and then to fix the holes through which the criminals gained access,” Neuman wrote in an email. 

Rapattoni did not confirm if a ransom was paid. The company’s social media posts said its workers labored to restore its system.

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