Launched in 2007, PropertyGuru Group is Southeast Asia’s leading online property company. Each month, nearly 35 million consumers browse rentals and homes for purchase among PropertyGuru’s over 2.8 million listings, which span Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
Being a market leader with the highest coverage of property listings, PropertyGuru is susceptible to being targeted with scraper bots deployed by competitors. In addition to straining PropertyGuru’s infrastructure and causing them to incur additional bandwidth costs, these bots hurt the company’s reputation, but also adversely impact the home-seeker experience. Competitors would copy the listings but not maintain them, leaving them up long after the property was no longer available. Consumers would see the listings on the competitor’s site and contact the listing agent, only to be told the property had been sold or rented some time ago. Since PropertyGuru’s name was on the listings, the company was concerned about how this could reflect on them.
PropertyGuru had been using a third-party bot management solution, but they wanted to amplify their ease of use by bringing their bot management and CDN under the same provider. In the market for better bot management, PropertyGuru wanted a replacement that would be easier to maintain and that produced fewer false positives. They also wanted analytical insights their old solution didn’t offer. Additionally, the company wanted a web application firewall (WAF), a content delivery network (CDN), and a solution that would enable them to optimize images to fit end users’ connection speeds, devices, and browsers. Preferably, they wanted to purchase all of these from the same provider.
After evaluating several vendors, PropertyGuru chose to deploy Cloudflare’s performance and security platform, including the Cloudflare CDN, WAF, and Bot Management. They also implemented Cloudflare Workers, which provides developers with a serverless execution environment that enables them to create entirely new applications or augment existing apps with custom code, without configuring or maintaining infrastructure.
While it’s critical for PropertyGuru to block malicious bots, like scrapers, it’s just as important for the company not to impede legitimate bots, such as Google’s site crawlers. After performing a month-long proof of concept of Cloudflare Bot Management, PropertyGuru found Cloudflare’s false positive percentage to be very low, and lower than competing solutions.
“Bot management is tricky. Cybercriminals are good at disguising bad bots to look legitimate,” explains Kostiantyn Lysenko, Tech Lead, Infrastructure and DevOps. “Cloudflare’s data-driven solution cut our malicious bot traffic in half without blocking good bots.”
The PropertyGuru team also found Cloudflare Bot Management to be cost-effective and easy to deploy, with actionable insights and world-class technical support from knowledgeable Cloudflare representatives.
“Because Cloudflare Bot Management is totally cloud-based, the cost of setting it up was zero compared to our previous solution,” says Balamurugan Mohandossgandhi, Lead DevOps Engineer. “The analytics give us valuable insight into our threat environment.”
“The Cloudflare interface lets us try out new rules and see how they would work before pushing them live,” adds Lysenko. “The documentation is also quite comprehensive, and whenever we need support, we’re put in touch with representatives who are very knowledgeable about the product and how to use it.”
Meanwhile, the Cloudflare WAF blocks approximately 23 million threats each month from reaching PropertyGuru’s Singapore domain, its most highly trafficked site. PropertyGuru has experienced no major cybersecurity incidents since deploying Cloudflare, which gives the team time to work on internal projects that drive the business and enhance security enterprise-wide.
“The threat landscape changes constantly. The Cloudflare WAF analytics tell us who’s attacking us and how, enabling us to harden our systems against new and emerging threats,” says Pedro Pereira, PropertyGuru’s Head of Engineering. “Thanks to Cloudflare protecting us from zero-day attacks, we have the time to enhance all of our internal security controls. Cloudflare has been invaluable in enabling us to take control of our security.”
PropertyGuru’s previous CDN solutions didn’t work in all of the countries the company serves, which caused problems with latency in areas where high-speed connections aren’t widely available to consumers. Indonesia was a perennial pain point.
“There were times we had outages because our site couldn’t scale quickly enough to meet traffic spikes,” Pereira recalls.
The Cloudflare CDN significantly decreased latency on PropertyGuru’s Indonesia site, and noticeably improved page speeds even in areas where latency wasn’t a big problem, such as Thailand.
“Cloudflare gave us peace of mind that we wouldn’t get a call at 5:00 a.m. saying that one of our sites went down,” Pereira says.
These faster page speeds also helped PropertyGuru’s listings rank higher in Google Search, where consumers start their property searches. “Page load speed is a page rank factor for Google,” Pereira explains. “Now that our latency is lower, our listings are ranking higher on Google, and more consumers are finding us.”
As a real estate listings site, PropertyGuru is image-heavy. To prevent high latency, images must be optimized according to the end user’s browser, device, and connection speed, while retaining high quality. Prior to deploying Cloudflare, PropertyGuru used an in-house solution to optimize images. However, it was difficult to maintain and extremely inflexible—for example, not allowing images to be resized according to the end user’s browser.
Using Workers, PropertyGuru deploys custom code that runs at the network edge and optimizes images on the fly, according to the user’s device size, connection speed, and browser. In addition to improving page load times, Workers enables PropertyGuru to serve high-quality images even to users on very slow connections.
“Image quality is critical to online property listings,” Pereira says. “Cloudflare Workers allows us to capture user requests at the origin and ensure that all users view high-quality images, regardless of their device or connection speed.”
PropertyGuru plans to expand its partnership with Cloudflare as the company grows. “Cloudflare offers an excellent suite of performance and security solutions that work very well, are easy to manage, and are backed up by excellent support,” Pereira notes. “We wouldn’t hesitate to deploy more Cloudflare products as needed.”
Cloudflare Bot Management greatly reduced malicious bot traffic, and prevented competitors from scraping listings
Cloudflare WAF blocks approximately 23 million threats a month from reaching PropertyGuru’s Singapore site
Cloudflare Workers helps reduce latency by optimizing images according to the end-user’s device and connection speed
“The threat landscape changes constantly. The Cloudflare WAF analytics tell us who’s attacking us and how, enabling us to harden our systems against new and emerging threats. Thanks to Cloudflare protecting us from zero-day attacks, we have the time to enhance all of our internal security controls. Cloudflare has been invaluable in enabling us to take control of our security.”
Head of Engineering
“Because Cloudflare Bot Management is totally cloud-based, the cost of setting it up was zero compared to our previous solution. The analytics give us valuable insight into our threat environment.”
Lead DevOps Engineer