Homeowners associations help create safer, wealthier, and more friendly communities for nearly a quarter of Americans. Running a successful HOA is challenging as management needs to balance maintaining property values and keeping residents content. Some HOAs are set in their ways, which may not be efficient or secure anymore.
Here, we look at two factors integral to any HOA’s prosperity – security and productivity. How have recent changes impacted these areas? What can HOAs do to thrive under new circumstances? Find out below.
What Security Challenges Do HOAs Face?
Homeowners’ associations are prime targets for cyberattacks. HOA management is often behind the times. That’s why HOAs are unprepared for the increasingly sophisticated threats to lax cybersecurity. Strengthening this aspect of your HOA administration duties is vital to safeguarding residents’ data and maintaining their trust.
Data breaches have the most severe consequences since HOAs store diverse personal data on their residents. Stealing it through phishing or malware attacks can yield names, addresses, and banking information, and more that cybercriminals can profit from. Such a breach can even directly impact neighborhood safety if you have a security code database.
How to Strengthen Your HOA’s Data Security?
It’s the HOA management company’s responsibility to maintain up-to-date data security practices. These are the first steps you should take.
1) Assess the data your HOA keeps
An HOA can hardly protect its data if the management and board members aren’t aware of everything they’re collecting. Brush up on the laws that mandate which data you must collect and then take stock of your records.
Some HOAs might not be fully compliant. Others may find they collect more data than they’re legally obliged to. The less information you need to store, the lower the chance criminals will get their hands on valuable something if a breach occurs.
2) Know how secure your HOA software is
Assessing the data that HOA keeps is important. However, another major task is to be aware of the security of the software and systems you use to store and process that data. Many HOAs and management companies use community management software to manage every aspect of their community operations.
Therefore ensuring that any software you use has the necessary security protocols is the top priority. Since security protocols keep your data safe, they prevent cybersecurity issues. Here are how Pilera keeps client’s data secure:
- Passwords are securely stored using SHA-512 encryption and salted with 512 bits for more security.
- A site-wide lockout policy is implemented to defend against brute-force attacks.
- HTTPS security is used, and certificates are automatically renewed to keep server-client communication secure.
- The database is encrypted using an SSH certificate and IP blocking to prevent unauthorized access.
3) Implement a data access policy
A comprehensive security strategy needs to take inside threats into account. Creating a data access hierarchy will limit the people who have access to your HOA’s sensitive data. It’s a good idea to check your HOA software to see what permissions are available to assign to each staff member.
Permission-based roles allow you to give your staff access only to the information they need and that is pertinent to their job function. For example, Pilera has a variety of permissions that managers can set for their staff and board members based on what they need to do, such as managing tasks, sending messages, updating the document library, etc.
4) Start using a VPN
HOAs constantly send sensitive documents to vendors and other third-party actors. If the network these documents travel through isn’t secure, someone could intercept and use them for nefarious purposes. A VPN prevents this through a separate secure connection that encrypts any data you send.
While surfing on the internet, your unprotected connection can jeopardize your security. And yes, even if you use a Mac instead of a PC. Compared to Windows, Mac OS has strong protections built into them. Yet, the answer to your can Macs get malware question is always a yes. Since Macs can bring viruses like PCs, you must protect your connection. Fortunately, you only need to activate a VPN browser extension nowadays.
5) Spread awareness
Most cyberattacks succeed due to deceit. It’s much easier to prevent them if managers, boards, and residents understand how phishing and malware work. Researching these dangers and distributing a primer on how to avoid them will help form healthy security habits.
What keeps HOAs from being more productive?
Most residents find living in an HOA is a positive experience — those who express dissatisfaction with their HOA site’s slowness in resolving issues as their chief complaint.
More than 200,000 HOAs in the US have diverse views on management, varying technological acceptance, and different levels of community engagement. While all these factors play a part, being slow to embrace technological change is the most pressing issue.
Greater reliance on technology would have happened sooner or later. However, the pandemic put into perspective how using modern means of management and communication can help technologically savvy HOAs weather crises with more confidence.
How to Boost Your HOA Management’s Productivity
Streamlining repetitive, unnecessary, and tedious tasks is the key to a more productive HOA. Doing so cuts the administrative clutter, leaving management free to focus on solving disputes and bettering the community. Here are a few solutions you should implement or expand upon.
1) Automate what you can.
We might be well into the 21st century, but some HOAs still get by with handwritten notes or printouts on notice boards. Even something as simple as an email management program can ensure board members and residents get pertinent info in time.
2) Start using community management software.
HOAs share many responsibilities and workflow with conventional offices. There are documents to process, tasks to manage, and reports to fill. HOA and property management platforms provide comprehensive solutions for such responsibilities.
Especially with HOA management software, you can streamline tasks like work orders, resident support, architectural change requests, rule violations, and internal duties. This software empowers your team to organize all your community’s activities and communications in a single place and improve the visibility of your operations.
3) Involve the community.
An HOA is nothing without the community it represents, and technology can help. You can empower your community by setting up a residential portal. Members can catch up on the latest news and discuss neighborhood matters there.
This way, residents can conveniently submit requests and pay online on their own time, reducing the board and manager’s workload. This allows managers and board members to field fewer inbound calls, allowing them to focus on more strategic tasks for the community.
Homeowners’ associations provide a valuable service to their community. To continue this service, they must adapt to the latest technology and security standards. Taking action now, instead of waiting, will guarantee that your community is qualified to manage developing demands from residents, technological advancements, and security risks.
Stacey Wonder is a freelance blogger from California. She usually writes on educational topics, career, self-development, and writing. When not busy with her projects, Stacey creates detective stories. She dreams to become a well-known writer one day.