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Cyberattack affecting Las Vegas real estate deals

Updated November 29, 2023 - 7:09 pm

One of Las Vegas’ leading real estate brokerages says some of its deals have been impacted by the recent cyberattack on Fidelity National Financial, a real estate services company.

Forrest Barbee, a corporate broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties, said a small number of the company’s deals at its offices in Arizona, California and Nevada were impacted by the Fidelity ransomware attack, but it has been able to move some cash deals to other companies.

Jacksonville, Florida-based Fidelity, also known as FNF, provides settlement services and title insurance for the real estate and mortgage industry. The company was founded by Bill Foley — who owns the Vegas Golden Knights — and he still serves as its chairman.

Barbee said he became aware of the situation last Friday and has done some digging on its origins. He said the whole thing is playing out like a Hollywood movie.

“What I’ve found reads like a hostage situation in the early stages of negotiations,” he said. “It certainly does not look like there will any short-term resolution to this.”

Barbee and media reports say the hacker collective AlphV/BlackCat has taken responsibility for the attack and targeted FNF for hiring the cybersecurity firm Mandiant, which became a subsidiary of Google after it was purchased last year.

Barbee said a number of FNF title companies have been impacted, including Ticor, Lawyers, Chicago, Grand Canyon and Security Title.

A spokesperson for the trade group Las Vegas Realtors said it has yet to receive any calls or comments from members about the issue.

Philip M. Bouchard, president of Security 1st Title in Las Vegas said they are not impacted by the attack and that “buyers and sellers that have escrows at those companies are rapidly moving them to non-Fidelity companies so they can be closed.”

TechCrunch reported that FNF has shut down its network in response to the Nov. 21 attack.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, FNF outlined the attack, stating it “recently became aware of a cybersecurity incident that impacted certain FNF systems. FNF promptly commenced an investigation, retained leading experts to assist (Fidelity), notified law enforcement authorities, and implemented certain measures to assess and contain the incident.

“Among other containment measures, we blocked access to certain of our systems, which resulted in disruptions to our business. For example, the services we provide related to title insurance, escrow and other title-related services, mortgage transaction services, and technology to the real estate and mortgage industries, have been affected by these measures.”

Fidelity did not respond to calls or emails from the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Contact Patrick Blennerhassett at pblennerhassett@reviewjournal.com.

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