A token that can be carried on a real estate agent’s key chain may be one key to increased security for multiple listing services and other online real estate services in the wake of increasing concerns about online data security.

A token that can be carried on a real estate agent’s key chain may be one key to increased security for multiple listing services and other online real estate services in the wake of increasing concerns about online data security.

The Federal Trade Commission estimates that 10 million Americans fall victim to identity theft each year, costing consumers and businesses more than $55 billion per year. Identity theft is the most frequent complaint to the FTC from all 50 states, with the number of complaints having grown for the fourth consecutive year.

Nightmare scenarios such as online hackers accessing real estate clients’ home alarm system codes and specifics on when homeowners are away are a possibility with today’s MLS databases, which contain such information.

Increased security can prevent consumers’ sensitive information from being accessed improperly.

It can also help MLSs save money because everyone using their systems must pay to do so, instead of using others’ passwords to access the MLS.

With this in mind, online security technology company RSA Security is launching its Real Estate Solutions program this month. The program involves the use of a security token, MLS LoginKey, that’s about the size of an actual key. RSA is collaborating with industry technology partners to provide protection for both MLSs and document transaction management platforms.

The online security technology company already tried out its key-sized tokens with the Mid-Florida Regional Multiple Listing Service, launching its advanced authentication system with that MLS in July.

The system uses a security token called MLS LoginKey to replace the traditional method of a user ID and password. The token is small enough to fit on a key chain and features a window that displays six randomly selected numbers that change every 60 seconds. The numbers are entered to access the system along with a personal four-digit PIN created by the user.

The combination of the LoginKey and the PIN works like an ATM card, combining something the user knows (personal PIN) with something the user has (the randomly-generated numbers).

Kim Goodwin of Goodwin Realty and Associates and president of MFRMLS said her multiple listing service anticipates cost savings of $1 million over three years as a result of choosing RSA’s LoginKey. “We have identified 160 new members that have joined the organization as a result of the program. These are mostly appraisers who were sharing passwords,” said Goodwin.

In the wake of its success with MFRMLS, RSA Security is pressing ahead with its Real Estate Solutions program, collaborating with strategic technology partners.

RSA partner SolidEarth, a leading MLS platform provider serving 19 MLS organizations across North America, will be offering RSA SecurID tokens to its approximately 50,000 users, according to Pam Cyr, director of business development for the company.

“SolidEarth is a provider of MLS software. They write the software and manage it. MLSs work with Solid Earth as the provider of their software and their MLS data,” said Cyr.

Another partner,PlanetRE, will offer transaction management software for the real estate industry that can be protected by two-factor authentication technology, Cyr said.

By enabling real estate offices to leverage RSA SecurID technology, PlanetRE is helping to ensure the security of high-value real estate information beyond MLS data, including loan documents, property financial information, broker financial information and appraiser proposals, according to Cyr.

When a consumer or agent wishes to access an online document transaction manager, for example, he or she would follow the same procedure as with an agent accessing the MLS, using the password that pops up on the token along with his or her user ID to log onto the system, Cyr said.

PlanetRE has already delivered RSA SecurID technology to realty offices throughout the country as part of the company’s hosted ASP solution, which enables these organizations to ensure that their most critical and sensitive business documents are secure, Cyr said.

(Read Inman News’ four-part series, “Securing real estate data on the Web.”)

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to janis@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 140.

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