UPDATE: July 2010 – I was hopeful when I wrote this, but nothing has changed most of a year later – a few tweets, a session planned for the NAR convention … that’s about it.
More than five years ago, NAR came out with a program called Realtor Secure oriented toward enhancing information security. The idea and spirit were excellent, the execution – quite problematic. Those issues I described in person and via other communication channels with NAR staff. Thankfully, only a few MLSs and vendors participated in the program, which focused on certifying organizations “secure”. Unfortunately, because of the program flaws, most (though not all) of the MLSs and vendors that certified had basic and horrifying security flaws – yet remained certified for five years, proudly displaying their web site badge.
Information security in our industry is something I’ve always taken seriously – and I think it would be accurate, and would not be bragging, to say that I’m the industry expert. Most MLSs, associations, brokers, and vendors contact me when they have a security issue or when they want to be proactive by getting an assessment done and put an information security program put in place. Over the last month alone I’ve performed three vendor assessments, having a positive impact for hundreds of thousands of their customers. I’ve probably worked with more industry organizations than other companies combined, and understand all the unique challenges our industry has with information security.
Not being able to make an impact with NAR itself, I ranted and railed and made fun of the “Realtor INsecure” program so industry colleagues would understand its many issues. I increased my public speaking – producing a tech workshop in Scottsdale, a full-day info security session at Inman, speaking for the Realty Alliance CTOs as well as presenting at sessions geared for MLS executives at the MLS Executive Worshop and at a variety of other venues. I wrote many free-to-republish articles designed for Realtors and brokers that were re-published in scores of Association and MLS newsletters. Along the way I floated various proposals to NAR for re-branding and improving the program, focusing it on education and away from the flawed certification concept. Five years passed. Eventually, the person responsible for cooking up Realtor Secure even left. That, and additional conversations with NAR have lead to the following blessed event…
Better thinking has prevailed! I’ve been sitting on this news for weeks, after getting a heads up from CRT – NAR is finally ready to announce: The “REALTOR® Secure program will be focusing more on security education and awareness and will be re-branded as REALTOR® Secure: Understanding and Identifying Your Personal, Corporate and Association Security Liability” (http://blog.realtors.org/crt/2009/09/02/realtor-secure/).
I’m looking forward to working with the good folks at CRT as they move forward now, with a well-focused program, to improve information security practices in our industry.
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