Many small and large-sized property management companies have experienced data breaches in the past caused by system vulnerabilities. The cost to contain and fix cybersecurity issues can be enormous. Research from Tech Beacon states that 87% of enterprises require a budget that is 50% more than they currently have allocated for cybersecurity. However, large budgets can often be overwhelming to manage and puts enormous strain on the company’s assets. The question is how to best plan to reduce risks that meet safety and cost objectives. Depending on your requirements and level of risk estimated, you may find that an increase in budget is necessary. However, there are many ways to reduce risk in a cost-effective manner. This article will provide some insight into 5 ways that are sometimes overlooked, but very important.
Use anti-virus solutions for your entire team
Anti-virus software helps protect your computer from malware, ransomware, and a vast array of other cybersecurity threats.
Why? As hackers focus on the digital landscape, they continue to use more sophisticated means to create new viruses. The most reliable software will keep ahead of latest threats and help defend your devices against it in real-time.
What’s available and at what cost? There are free options for basic plans and upgrades for advanced security features. AVG includes real-time security updates, automated and on-demand scans, and also blocks unsafe links on a free plan. Norton’s pricing is based on the number of devices, starting at $39.99 per year for 1 device. Avast has a forever free plan which supports virus and malware detection in real time, Wi-Fi security scans, and password security. Their paid plans start at $59.99/year for more advanced features like advanced firewall blockers and ransomware security.
Back-up and store files on a cloud-based software
The software industry is abundant with different productivity apps that community managers use for daily tasks, customer relations management, community management, and more. It’s beneficial to store files in the cloud. Files can often be saved automatically and the information can later be accessed from any location anytime.
Why? While desktop applications carry the benefit of offline use, there may be risks if it not synced with the cloud. The software may often lose connection to the server.
What’s available and at what cost? Email providers for businesses such as Gmail and Outlook have online storage drives, document creation capabilities, and team collaboration tools. These tools start out at $4 user/month and $5-12 user/month, respectively.
Secure your passwords
A password is a gatekeeper to all your important information and it’s crucial to guard it carefully.
Why? Writing down passwords in a notebook is easy, but it’s not the safest route – it might get misplaced or stolen. Also, you can’t possibly remember the password for every single account you have. That is where a password manager comes in handy.
What’s available and at what cost? Many companies specialize in digital password managers. Some extremely helpful, common features to look for are encrypted passwords, two-factor authentication, single-sign on, integration with other productivity apps you might use, team sharing capabilities with permissions, autofilling password into websites, security alerts, and more. Some companies offer password manager accounts for free or as a freemium. Freemiums offer free features with security enhancements as an upgrade. Other password managers you can look into recommended by PC Mag for a cost range from $1 to $40 depending on your allocated budget. Zoho Vault has an abundance of features in a “Forever Free” plan and also has plans for more advanced features and multiple users starting at $4/month. Dashlane has a free plan with basic features, as well as premium and business options that start at $3.33 per month per user.
Train employees on internet use policies
Management responsibilities encompass sending communications to residents, handling data, responding to community members on Facebook group pages, uploading community documents, processing payment, and many more such activities. Scheduling a few hours on a regular basis to train your employees on internet use policies is a cost-effective way to ensure employee compliance and safety of data. For your training agenda, consider password security, website use policies, software policies, ethical conduct on the internet, safety best practices, and basic troubleshooting. Create a training program for your team members and hold a face to face training session regularly (this could be semi-annual, quarterly, or more frequent if you’d like). If your employees operate out of several offices, then a webinar is a great tool to bring everyone together.
The in-house IT employee or hiring decision
The in-house versus hiring decision can be a challenging one to make, based on various internal factors. Training a current employee to shoulder IT responsibilities may cost less since they are familiar with the company’s operations. Additionally, current employees may require less training. Hiring a new IT specialist offers a fresher perspective from someone who has a technology and information systems background.
Factors to consider if you choose to train a current employee to be the company’s IT specialist:
- Current versus required skillset and training required to fill in the gaps
- The time required for IT-related activities
- Potential increase in compensation
- How this might impact the job responsibilities of other employees & reporting structure
Factors to consider if you choose to hire a new IT specialist:
- Job specifications and alignment to IT objectives
- Depending on your budget and the candidate’s experience, you may be looking anywhere from $35K to $95K a year ($53K is the median salary).
- Candidate experience necessary – the number of years, degrees/certifications, areas of expertise
- Reporting structures
- Current IT job market
Company size, number of employees and level of IT expertise, current technology and IT implementations, previous data breaches (if any), level of risk estimated, budget, and departmental needs are just some things to consider. In your evaluation of cybersecurity needs, keep in mind that the key to reducing risk is educating and communicating with employees on policies. Therefore, implementing cybersecurity for your association or management company doesn’t have to be expensive, but the options you choose should be reliable and keep your community safe.
Pilera Software is the premier community and property management suite that has helped thousands of community managers, board members, and back-office personnel enhance communications, improve customer service, and manage compliance and operations. Our software implements latest technology protocols, security roles for our users, and permissions to various features for your community members that you choose. May we help your community achieve these success stories?