It’s valuable, it’s important, and it’s something that a lot of folks are trying VERY hard to steal and misuse.
In fact, according to a survey conducted by the Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS), protecting listing data and ensuring data distribution integrity are key issues that MLSs face today. Nearly 80% of the respondents were concerned about unauthorized online use of their data.
This is a very REAL issue, and it is something REALTOR.com ® takes VERY seriously.
The practice of stealing and misusing listing data is very common, and it’s done through a process called “scraping.”
Here’s an example of a post from a person attempting to scrape REALTOR.com:
So what does REALTOR.com do to protect listing data from cyber-attacks like this one?
A lot. A WHOLE lot. REALTOR.com puts personnel, resources and MILLIONS of dollars into protecting our data from scrapers.
We monitor our site every second of every day, and log over 1500 interactions on our site per SECOND - or about 137 MILLION per day.
That’s a lot of activity to track, and we do it religiously. We log, track and monitor all these events so we can detect patterns that signal illicit behavior, and then we block those IPs from accessing our site. And this effort is paying off big for REALTOR.com, and the MLSs and Brokers that provide us their data.
We effectively block about 1.5 MILLION pages from being scraped everyday. And our blocking is so successful, that scraping attempts have declined tremendously on REALTOR.com®.
Here’s a snapshot of scraping attacks on REALTOR.com in the last quarter of 2011:
- 385 Million attempts in October
- 160 Million attempts in November
- 138 Million attempts in December
And it continues to rapidly decline in 2012:
- 75 Million attempts in February
This means that as we continue to raise the bar on data protection, we expect that the scrapers may shift to focus on less-defended sites, so making sure you have full control about how your data is distributed is important (more on this in an upcoming post).
We understand that you work hard for your clients, and you work hard for your listing data - and REALTOR.com® and MOVE are committed to ensuring that you decide what happens to it.