7 cybersecurity precautions property managers can take right now

Laurie Mega
Laurie Mega | 5 min. read

Published on October 4, 2018

When you think of cybersecurity precautions, you probably wonder about how to best protect your company’s internal technology first. Still, in today’s data-driven world, every business must lock down the information that they receive from clients and other stakeholders. It goes without saying that keeping your systems secure protects your residents, vendors, and owners—and they’ll appreciate a property management company that is mindful of their personal information.

Implementing small business cybersecurity measures can be intimidating, especially if you don’t have anyone well-versed in IT on staff. We’ve come up with 7 actionable cybersecurity tips you can put in place right away to protect your business, owners, and residents.

#1: Mix Up Passwords—and Make Them Strong

Verizon’s 2017 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) found that 81 percent of hacking-related breaches were caused by stolen or weak passwords. Never use passwords like “password” or “12345” and never use sensitive information like birthdays or names. Use different passwords for each of your accounts, for both business and personal use, and change them from time to time. You may even want to consider a password manager for you and your staff like LastPass or Dashlane.

#2: Stay Up-to-Date on Email Scams

Attackers don’t have to be sophisticated to dig up sensitive information like your bank account or social security number. The old Nigerian Prince scam is still out there (if you can believe it). And last year, according to Symantec, 71 percent of targeted attacks were done through spear phishing. Educate yourself and your employees about common scams, like fraudulent donations or emails from hacked social media accounts.

Better yet, offer your residents a seminar or pamphlet on common email scams. It will let them know that you really are watching out for their security.

#3: Lock Down Social Media Accounts

Email services are getting better at detecting and blocking scams, so attackers are turning to social media to lure unwitting users. While social media is pervasive, it’s not necessary for your employees to visit their personal accounts at work if they can help it. Limiting access to business accounts and training your employees to recognize dubious messages is a good start.

#4: Install Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, and Firewall Apps

All three of these applications protect your systems from attack. Anti-virus and Anti-spyware apps scan for viruses on websites and in email and warn you when they find one. Firewalls prevent your computer from responding to pings, or calls, from attackers trying to gain access to your server.

The main takeaway here is to always update software and apps whenever one is available (although many often refrain). Updates repair vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit.

#5: Implement Two-Factor Authentication

One of the best ways to keep financial and personal information secure is to ensure that all logins are verified logins. That’s exactly why Buildium has implemented industry-standard security features —so you can worry about one less thing. Offering another level of security by requiring two-factor authentication, for example, will prompt a user to enter in a second login code via text or phone call after the initial password in order to verify their identity. It’s a great way to make sure that only you can access sensitive information—even if someone manages to obtain your password.

#6: Make Sure Everyone Follows Cybersecurity Precautions

According to the 2018 Verizon DBIR: “Errors were at the heart of almost one in five (17%) breaches [in the study]. That included employees failing to shred confidential information, sending an email to the wrong person or misconfiguring web servers.”

Provide employees with a handbook on the proper handling of company systems and sensitive information. Check in regularly to ensure they’re being followed.

#7: Back Up Data

Ransomware is now one of the most popular types of attacks. According to the 2018 Verizon DBIR, it’s “easy to deploy and very effective.” An attacker gets into your system, holds your data hostage and demands money to get it back. If they’re blocking access to any of your systems, that’s a problem, but if they’re only holding your data and you have it backed up, no need to pay the ransom.

Cybersecurity can feel like a moving target, but there are plenty of steps you can take to secure your business’ data. These actionable tips for small business cybersecurity are quick to implement right now, and doing so will protect your residents’ and owners’ information—even if they haven’t given it a second thought.

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Laurie Mega

Laurie Mega has planned, written, and edited content on a variety of subjects. Her work has been published by HomeandGarden.com, The Economist, Philips Lifeline, and FamilyEducation, among others. She lives in the Greater Boston Area with her husband and two boys.

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