Your community association collects a wide range of data about your residents--including, in some cases, sensitive financial records, including credit card information and other data. You want to be sure that you are providing the maximum possible security to members of your community. If you need to improve your cyber security setup or you are not sure how secure your devices are, make sure you're implementing these strategies across your community.
Strategy #1: Change Passwords Regularly
Once a hacker has a password, they will have it forever. If you change your passwords on a regular basis, however, you will be able to prevent them from using those passwords to access sensitive data concerning your community. Make sure that you follow these important rules for password security:
- Encourage members to use unique passwords, not the same passwords that they use for anything else. That way, if one password is compromised, it will not compromise all of them.
- Consider two-factor authentication for higher levels of security. With this method, users must provide a password along with access to something that is unique to them, usually a cell phone.
- Don't allow users to write down passwords anywhere near the system, and make sure that each user logs out when they're done with their tasks.
Strategy #2: Update Virus Protection Software
Your virus protection software doesn't only update to slow down your computers and make it difficult for you to get work done. Updates are designed to help close potential security holes and protect against threats to your system! If you don't have automatic updates allowed on your system, make sure that you schedule updates as a regular part of your system maintenance. Remember, nearly a million new malware threats are released every day--and the longer you wait to update your system, the more vulnerable it will be.
Strategy #3: Don't Collect or Store Unnecessary Information
The simple truth is, if you don't store information on your network, hackers won't be able to find or steal it. Make sure that you're only collecting information that you genuinely need--and only store it if there's a reason for it. This is especially true as it pertains to confidential information about your members and residents. Before storing something on your network, ask:
- Is this something that the community really needs to know?
- Is this information that needs to be stored? (For example, if a homeowner doesn't set up recurring payments, you may not need to store financial information.)
- Is this information stored securely?
If your data doesn't pass the test, then the answer is simple: don't store it! Unstored data can't possibly be used to steal identities, get hold of financial information, or any of the other threats caused by stolen data.
Strategy #4: Create a Secure Network
Using SSL protection and encryption will help create a more secure network, which will help minimize the number of threats your network will face. SSL encryption creates a secure layer of encryption between users and the network, which means that malicious threats can't just "listen in" on your network traffic. In many cases, hackers choose, rather than breaking into your system, to stand between you and your network, listening to the information you're passing back and forth. As a result, you'll often "give away" data that should, instead, be kept protected. SSL encryption helps prevent this from becoming a vulnerability for your system.
Today's citizens are becoming increasingly informed about the dangers of hackers and other threats--and as a result, they're demanding higher levels of security in all of their interactions. Take these four key steps to improve the overall security of your network and ensure that their information remains protected. Without that protection, you can face costly fines, furious members, and serious repercussions when data is stolen.