Many landlords underestimate the importance of cybersecurity, as they do not believe they are amongst the most vulnerable for a cyber-attack. However, it is safe to say that as a landlord, your email inbox is packed with sensitive data such as your tenants’ full names, social security numbers, places of employment, credit history, addresses, and much more. This information is known as personally identifiable information, which is any data that could be used to distinguish one person from another. This information alone is all a cyber hacker needs to do damage to one’s life. Now, think about the several financial transactions a landlord engages in each year, from rent payments to security deposits, and imagine what could happen if a hacker got their hands on a landlord’s database.
As a landlord, if you do not take cybersecurity seriously, you leave yourself vulnerable to a cyberattack that could wreak havoc on your tenants’ lives, your life, and your business.
Ways Protect Yourself from Cyberattacks
Now that we have established that a landlord’s database is filled with a ton of personally identifiable information, we need to understand why having this information leaves landlords vulnerable to cyberattacks. Personally identifiable information is known as a digital currency that is in high demand amongst hackers since it is bought and sold on the “dark web” for stolen identities, fake passports, and much more.
Unfortunately, cyberattacks and data breaches happen every day and when they do there are thousands, if not millions, of hackers ready to pay for this personally identifiable information. It is important to correctly store your sensitive data, to protect your tenants and your business. Here are the five ways to protect your tenants, yourself, and your business from cyberattacks:
1. Have Strong Password Practices
Every second of the day, hackers are using password cracking software to run through thousands of possible passwords. This is why it is so important to have strong password practices. Keeping your passwords secure is the first step to keeping your data secure. Here are some tips to having strong password practices:
- Create unique passwords that always use a combination of words, numbers, symbols, and both upper- and lower-case letters.
- Never use the same password for multiple sites.
- Change up your passwords. Never have one password for too long.
- Use a password software to help you create and manage secure passwords.
2. Protect Your Data
- Make sure to restrict access to your sensitive data. Only allowing a few trusting people to have access to this data, will drastically decrease your chances of a cyberattack.
- Do not hold onto data longer than you are legally required to, as this will decrease the amount of data able to be stolen in the event of a breach.
- When sharing files containing personally identifiable information, make sure to send through encrypted email.
- Lastly, it is crucial to back up your data to the cloud or an external hard drive. Storing your data off-site will give you the extra protection you need in case of a cyber-attack.
3. Protect Your Email
As a landlord, your email is arguably the center of your business. Protecting your email is protecting your tenants’ information. Not only should you follow the strong password practices we recommend above, but you should also be aware of and know how to identify a phishing scam. Cisco defines phishing as counterfeit communication that appears to come from a trustworthy source but can compromise all types of data sources. Here are some tips to recognize and prevent phishing attacks:
- Don’t click on email links from unknown sources
- Never give out sensitive data over email
- Be suspicious of emails with grammatical mistakes, poor graphic quality, links that do not begin with “http,” etc.
4. Secure Your Networks
In only a matter of minutes a hacker can comprise your network. Two ways to secure your network are:
- Create a guest network for visitors needing Wi-Fi. Never allow guests to use the Wi-Fi where your sensitive data is stored.
- Make sure to change your default password on your router.
5. Hire Professionals
Hiring professionals will put your mind at ease when it comes to your cyber security. They will work with you to review your existing security measures, give you recommendations on how to improve your security, and implement any upgrades needed to secure your data
How All County Denver Metro Can Help
All County Denver Metro Property Management is here to help property owners get the best return on their investment through knowledgeable and trustworthy property management services. From managing tenant relationships to lease enforcement, we look forward to working with you to see how your investment can be a long-term, stress-free asset. For a complimentary quote, call us today at (720) 664-4550.