All homeowner associations have access to sensitive owners' data. From social security numbers and driver license information to credit card numbers, you are responsible for keeping them out of the wrong hands by boosting your cyber security efforts.
According to RiskBased Security, in the first half of 2019, over 3,800 breaches were reported, exposing over 4.1 billion records. How prepared are you to protect sensitive information? As technology advances and HOA relies on digital services and products, the risks of data theft increase every day.
Let's talk about ways to improve cybersecurity for your community and protect sensitive association data from hackers in 2020.
1. Clarify Security Procedures
Each homeowner association should have certain security procedures. Limit access to sensitive information to people, who can't avoid working with it.
Document rules about access clearance. There shouldn't be any misunderstandings about the procedure.
Make it clear to the board members that data access restrictions aren't set up due to a lack of trust but to enforce cybersecurity measures.
2. Employ Strict Password Protection
All applications and documents must be protected by passwords. Uploading documents to a cloud is a convenient storage method. However, sharing access without a password makes it a risky one.
You have to create strong passwords that contain symbols and numbers. Never use the same combination for several purposes. If you are having a tough time creating and remembering numerous strong passwords, you can take advantage of password managers.
3. Limit BYOD
When HOA members are using personal devices to access sensitive information, they are putting the data at risk. Large companies work out complex BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies to ensure all their information stays safe.
If you aren't ready to invest time and money in such a policy, access all the data from properly protected office computers.
4. Consider Cyber Liability Insurance
Cyber liability insurance protects you in case there is a data breach. Depending on the policy type, it can cover immediate financial losses related to the breach as well as claims that may occur because of cyber-attacks. For example, if a homeowner sues the association for problems encountered due to data loss, the insurance covers the expenses.
If you decide to pay for such insurance, make sure to discuss it in detail. Such policies aren't standardized and may contain unique terminology. They can also be based on a retention/deductible, an amount you have to pay before the insurance company makes its payment.
5. Destroy Old Files
As soon as you don't need the information anymore, destroy it. Keeping old files just because you don't have time to deal with them increases your vulnerability.
Make sure to erase files fully. Clicking "delete" simply sends them to the trash bin. Clearing the trash bin won't do it either. You need to remove the information without the possibility of recovery, which would require using a third-party shredding tool.
6. Update Your Software
According to a survey done by Voke Media, about 80% of companies that experienced breaches could have prevented them with a software update.
The key reason to update any software you use on HOA computers is to improve cybersecurity. Don't miss or ignore updates.
By the way, if you are still working with Windows 7, it's time for an upgrade since Microsoft has stopped supporting it recently.
7. Consult an IT Expert
If you don't have a staff IT expert, you should outsource IT-related tasks. This specialist should consult you on cybersecurity measures and offer solutions for HOA data protection.
Cyber security is quickly becoming the top concern for the majority of companies all over the world. Implementing the above security measures today can help you avoid serious consequences in the future.
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