Data Storage and Security for Property Managers
Digitalization is still on the rise, and technology has revolutionized countless aspects of our daily lives. The property management industry has benefited greatly from today’s technological advancements – developments in automation and cloud-based computing have paved the way for property managers, landlords and investors to streamline operations and maximize profits. Across the board, technology like this is becoming more accessible and affordable to the average person, but it isn’t without its own issues.
Security concerns have plagued the technology industry for years, and I foresee data breaches continuing to be an obstacle in the years to come. This should be top of mind for those of us in the property management industry, as we are entrusted not only with personal and employee data, but with data from property owners and tenants as well. Unfortunately, this kind of information makes property managers ideal targets for identity theft, data breaches, and other scams designed to steal personal details.
In this line of business, we are given access to a high amount of private information and it is our responsibility as property managers and business owners to protect the information of our employees, clients and tenants.
Prevention for property managers
The best place to start when it comes to data security is basic knowledge – create strong, unique passwords for each online account related to your property. Many experts recommend a minimum of 10 characters, using a variety of numbers, letters and special characters, and using a different password for each account you have (use a password manager or app if necessary). Avoid using personal information in your passwords that could easily be learned through your social media channels (birthdates, names of siblings, children, pets, etc.).
Two-factor authentication may seem like a pain, but it works. Take advantage wherever two-factor authentication is offered on financial sites, email and any other accounts with login information. Don’t do business on any public, unsecured Wi-Fi networks in airports, restaurants and other similar locations. Public Wi-Fi is the same thing as being in public – don’t share anything on the network that you wouldn’t share with the stranger sitting next to you.
Be aware of phishing scams and never click on links or attachments from unknown email addresses. In the property management industry, phishing scams commonly happen around tax season and involve offenders posing as IRS representatives or other authoritative sources and requesting personal information. Please note that the IRS will not initiate contact with taxpayers by email or phone to request personal or financial information and will always begin with contact by mail.
Prevention for small businesses
Owning and managing your own property is one realm and involves data security strategies that are similar to those used to protect your day-to-day personal information. When you begin managing multiple properties or managing properties on behalf of clients, a whole new level of responsibility is on your shoulders when it comes to data storage and protection. In addition to all of the best practices advised for individuals, you’ll want to ensure your business and your employees are practicing the same tactics.
Always protect your employer identification numbers and immediately report any suspected data loss or data breach to the IRS and state tax agencies.
If a data breach occurs
If you are facing a data breach as a property manager or property management business, act quickly in order to mitigate your risk. Research to determine exactly what information was compromised – was it your email or password that was acquired, or was more sensitive information like social security numbers accessed?
Utilize credit monitoring services to keep an eye out for activity or charges that you don’t recognize and place a fraud alert on any credit accounts with suspicious activity.
Without cloud-based technology, our devices would quickly run out of space and the only alternative would be to purchase expensive physical memory storage. Because of the cloud, large companies, small businesses and individuals alike can store and protect their digital information on the cloud. In the years to come, leaders in the technology space will continue to develop more innovative and effective tools to protect consumers and businesses from these situations.
[Image via Drake Software.]