Friday, December 19, 2014

Are Doxpop Recorders protected from unauthorized access to documents?

We have been reading with interest The Indiana Law Blog's coverage of the Federal cases involving several Indiana Recorders and LPS Real Estate Data Solutions (now Black Knight Financial Services.)

In brief, at least two Recorders and Fidlar Technologies, the company that supplies indexing software and remote access services to the affected Recorders, are suing LPS for failing to pay copy fees per their agreement with the Recorders. (Details in ILB posts from: Dec 10th, Dec 16th, and Dec 18th.)

This is a big deal for Indiana Recorders. Indiana statutes require that Recorders collect a $1/page fee when they supply a copy of a document to the public. Recorders depend on this revenue to fund part of their office, thereby reducing local tax burdens. The statutes also forbid recipients of copies from re-selling them, thus preserving the income stream for the Recorders. That means Recorders must keep a tight rein on access, so they take a dim view of those who don't follow the rules or take care to protect their income.

Doxpop provides an online access service very similar to Fidlar's for 33 Indiana Recorders. Fidlar's business is similar enough to ours that we become alarmed when someone abuses them. We could be the next target, so we take this seriously. Although we think we've got a better approach to security, we are also keenly aware that nobody is perfect. The rest of this post explains why we are not vulnerable to the specific exploit LPS used, but please don't take it as an assertion that our security is perfect. The most important security tool is humility.

Several of the Recorders Doxpop partners with have asked us to look over the lawsuit and make sure they are not at risk for the same method of stealing through our service. The short answer is No, they are not at risk.

There are two reasons:
  • First, there is protection in our system architecture. Based on the statements in the lawsuit, it appears that LPS was supplied with software that counted the number of copies on the LPS end of the Internet connection, and then reported back the totals. Fidlar alleges that LPS mimicked that program's Internet requests to retrieve thousands of documents without reporting the transactions. Doxpop takes a different approach. We count the copies as they leave the server on our end of the connection. It's like the difference between the electric company reading a meter on the outside of a house themselves or putting the meter inside the house & asking the customer to report the readings. We keep the metering on our side of the wall.
  • Second, there is legal protection. Doxpop executes a contract with each Recorder we work with that makes us responsible for paying all copy fees for documents obtained through our service. If this had happened to one of our partner Recorders, we'd have paid the Recorder in full for all fees due, and it would be up to us to go after LPS for our losses. This is a simple fix that every county should consider implementing immediately. A good vendor should be willing to protect their local government partners from loss. (That's also what keeps us watchful; We'll be the losers if we screw up.)

Nobody knows what the next exploit might be, but we believe this two-pronged approach of taking care to prevent breaches and then additionally taking responsibility ourselves if a breach occurs is the right way to protect the public officials we work with from whatever the future holds.
  

Monday, December 8, 2014

Johnson County Converts to Odyssey- Your Doxpop Access is Unaffected.

Over the last weekend (December 6-7), the Courts in Johnson County converted to the Odyssey case tracking system, this means their Case Management System is now administered by JTAC and all data stored in Indianapolis.

This move does not affect Doxpop users because Doxpop buys access to a real-time feed of court data from the Odyssey system from the Division of State Court Administration. Your access to Johnson court information through Doxpop will not be interrupted during this transition.

A few of the services we provide will look odd during the transition, because there will be a short period when both the old data and the new data are available. In particular:
  • If you use the personal calendar feature to keep track of hearings connected to your Bar ID, you will see two colors for Johnson County on your calendar. Every event will be available, but the older cases will have a different color from the newer cases. When we complete the merge process, these will go back to being a single color.
  • When you look at our "County Details Page", you will find two entries for each court until the merge is complete.
  • When you are doing searches, you will find two entries for some cases. This is because while we are loading the information from Odyssey, we will also be maintaining the old data until the operation is complete to ensure you don't miss anything. When you see two case entries, please look at both to ensure you have the most current information.
  • If you use any of our "watch" services to keep an eye on cases or people of interest, we will be moving those watches over so they point to the cases and people that are a part of the Odyssey data feed. We run a process to convert these every hour, but it is possible for notification of events to slip through the cracks between conversion runs so you may want to periodically do a manual check between now and January 12th. After the 12th, we'll be back to normal.
Tax warrants are not stored on the Odyssey system, and thus from this point forward, if you are seeking tax warrants, you will need to either find those by visiting the clerk's office or by subscribing to an on-line service offered by the State Court Administration.

Finally, one deficiency in the Odyssey system is that financial information is not exported in their data feed, so that detail will not be available after the transition. We regularly ask that JTAC add this to the data feed, but so far, we are told that it is not allowed because the clerks using the Odyssey system have requested that JTAC not make that information available to us. If this information is important to you, please encourage the clerks you work with to tell JTAC differently so we can get the information back online.

As always, we are available to answer any questions in person, so don't hesitate to call support at 866-369-7671 if you have any questions.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pulaski County Deeds now linked directly to GIS Maps

The Recorder's office in Pulaski County has entered information that allows Doxpop to provide direct links to the county GIS system from recently recorded deeds.

The map link appears to the right of the legal description in the index details for recorded deeds:


After following the map link, you can then navigate to tax and assessment information with one click within the GIS system.

Please thank the folks in the Pulaski Recorder's office for making this useful feature possible! They have to do a little extra work on each deed, but it makes your research much simpler.

Pulaski joins several other Recorders that provide this feature through Doxpop. Other counties that provide the GIS interface include:

  • Brown
  • Dearborn
  • Decatur
  • Franklin
  • Hancock
  • Morgan
  • Ohio
  • Randolph
  • Shelby
  • Union
  • Vermillion
  • Wayne

Fayette County moves to different case tracking system. Doxpop users unaffected.

Over the last weekend, the Courts in Fayette County moved to the Odyssey case tracking system, thus moving their data storage and administration to Indianapolis.

This move does not significantly affect Doxpop users because Doxpop buys access from the State Court Administration to a real-time feed of court data from the Odyssey system. Our customers' access to Fayette court information will not be interrupted during the transition.

A few of the services we provide will look odd during the transition, because there will be a short period when both the old data and the new data are available. In particular:
  • If you use the personal calendar feature to keep track of hearings connected to your Bar ID, you will see two colors for Fayette County on your calendar. Every event will be available, but the older cases will have a different color from the newer cases. When we complete the merge process, these will go back to being a single color.
  • When you look at our "County Details Page", you will find two entries for each court until the merge is complete.
  • When you are doing searches, you will find two entries for some cases. This is because while we are loading the information from Odyssey, we will also be maintaining the old data until the operation is complete to ensure you don't miss anything. When you see two case entries, please look at both to ensure you have the most current information.
  • If you use any of our "watch" services to keep an eye on cases or people of interest, we will be moving those watches over so they point to the cases and people that are a part of the Odyssey data feed. We run a process to convert these twice each day, but it is possible for notification of events to slip through the cracks between conversion runs so you may want to periodically do a manual check between now and November 11th. After the 11th, we'll be back to normal.
Finally, one deficiency in the Odyssey system is that financial information is not exported in their data feed, so that detail will not be available after the transition. We regularly ask that JTAC add this to the data feed, but so far, we are told that it is not allowed because the clerks using the Odyssey system have requested that JTAC not make that information available to us. If this information is important to you, please encourage the clerks you work with to tell JTAC differently so we can get the information back online.

As always, we are available to answer any questions in person, so don't hesitate to call support at 866-369-7671 if you have any questions.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Problem with Morgan County Circuit Court Cases. (Will be fixed by 9/19)

A recent bulk file received from the State Court Administration's JTAC group omitted cases from Morgan Circuit court, and applying this file to replace our current data resulted in the deletion of all active cases in Morgan Circuit Court. Until the cases are restored, any search depending on data from this court will be incomplete.

Inactive cases and information on actions prior to August 1 for active cases remain available, and no other court was affected by this problem.

A sharp-eyed user reported the problem yesterday. We notified the folks at JTAC early in the afternoon, and they are sending the missing cases right now. Everyone involved responded with admirable speed. It will take several hours for the information to load, but we can confidently predict that the process will complete by tomorrow morning (9/19/14) at the latest.

Users who have watches on cases in Morgan Circuit Court or any other search "watch" that would be triggered by a reload of this court's data may receive spurious notifications due to the reload.

Apologies to our users for any inconvenience this may have caused. We do our very best to provide you with uninterrupted access to current information, but sometimes occurrences outside of our organization create interruptions that we can't prevent.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to call our office at 866-369-7671 or eMail support@doxpop.com.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sorting now retained when returning to results lists.

A few months ago, Doxpop released a feature that allowed users to re-sort their search results on any column by clicking on the up/down arrows in the heading.

Although this was a great feature, our users quickly pointed out that it had a big flaw... The list always reverted to the default order when returning to it after viewing results, requiring the user to re-sort every time after viewing details. After a collective "D'oh!" moment, we sent a request to fix this off to the programmers.

This problem has now been fixed, so you can really start making good use of the column sorting feature!

Note also that there's a new "reset sorting" link in the upper right corner. That's there in case you want to get back to the original default sorting order.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Monroe County Recorder Joins Doxpop!

It has been a long journey! The Monroe County Courts were the first county office to partner with Doxpop, so it is exciting to finally add the Monroe County Recorder's Office to our family of Doxpop local government partners.

This has been a bittersweet process for us because we started working with Jim Fielder to make Recorded Documents available online. We are grateful to Jeff Ellington for continuing to move this project forward after Jim passed away in May. Jeff Ellington brought this project to completion, but it is also a legacy for Jim Fielder. We appreciate both of these far-sighted leaders.

Both the index and images for documents filed after January 1, 1991 are now available on the Doxpop web site. Basic information is available at no cost. Detailed information and document images are available as a fee-based service for professional users.

This new service is being provided by the County Recorder's Office at no cost to the taxpayers of Monroe County. The access provided by this service is in addition to the public access already provided at the Recorder's Office.

Doxpop and the Recorder will be providing a training session for the public in the next few weeks. Please contact Jeff Ellington, Monroe County Recorder for details. Jeff Ellington may be reached at (812) -349-2520.