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What real estate technologists need to know about disobedience on the Internet


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The Internet has allowed for people and communities to connect, unify and forward their causes. But it has also opened the door to disruption and civil disobedience. Author Molly Sauter examines this relationship, along with the history, development, theory, and practice of distributed denial of service actions as a tactic of political activism in her book — The Coming Swarm: DDoS Actions, Hacktivism, and Civil Disobedience on the Internet.

Sauter will discuss her findings and what they mean for those in charge of real estate technology at Inman’s Hacker Connect event in New York on January 16.

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When it comes to real estate, Molly Sauter says an agent wouldn’t sell their client a home without a lock on the front door, but what many agents might not realize is certain technologies that are now being integrated into homes — including smart appliances and security cameras — are an open portal to the web that may leave them vulnerable to danger, harassment and attack.

“There is an ethical obligation on the part of the people who are putting people into homes, to ensure that these homes are secure,” Sauter says.

October’s DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack that caused a widespread Internet outage of popular websites like Zillow and Twitter is a perfect example of Sauter’s fears realized.

Molly Sauter, Hacker Connect Keynote Speaker

Molly Sauter, Hacker Connect Keynote Speaker

The Mirai malware blamed for that attack was designed to scan Internet of Things (IoT) devices in homes like routers, cameras and DVRs and turn them into “bots” that could be used to launch an attack.

“What’s going to be interesting is the IoT network is both an incredibly pervasive and poorly defended network,” Sauter said.

“On the one hand, we have more computing power out there to be part of these actions, but because these are objects that are in people’s home, you encounter a interesting moral dilemma.”

Sauter will provide a keynote on that moral dilemma as well as the historical nature of technological disruptions, how cyber weapons have been used in the past and the very real implications of leaked information that affects the real estate industry during Inman’s Hacker Connect on January 16, 2017, in New York.

Although cyber warfare or leaked information may seem like something far removed from agent and broker’s day-to-day, Sauter brings up the example of Atlantic journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates, who used special procedures to shield his identity during the the process of buying a $2 million brownstone in Brooklyn.

The information was leaked, and a story and pictures of the home were then published in The New York Post.

Coates, who’s the author of a book about the history of racial injustice in the U.S., worried for his safety and did not move into the home because of the leak.

Sauter’s talk will reinforce the important role that those in the real estate technology industry have on securing data and information, particularly as it relates to their clients.

Hacker Connect is a new event created by and for the real estate technology community. Debate, discuss and define the future of real estate’s most pressing tech issues. Join engineers, developers, designers, product managers, database architects, webmasters and technology executives from across the real estate space.

Register Now

Email Kristy Hessman

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