When it comes to preventing data theft, knowledge is the first line of defense. Fortunately, we have some expert tips to put you on the path to securing your property management data and lower your risk of a potential cyber attack.

Protecting Your Business from Data Theft

While some theft – such as auto theft – has unique “hot spots” in our nation that increase risk potential, digital theft is a global problem that isn’t impacted by geographical boundaries, socioeconomic conditions, or other on-the-ground factors. Consider this: 4,149 confirmed breaches resulted in more than 4.2 billion data records being stolen in 2016. 55% of those record losses came from business security failures or vulnerabilities. Inga Goodijn, Risk Based Security’s executive VP, says as shocking as those numbers are, their study probably “underestimates the actual criminal activity.”

It’s more important than ever to secure your data – and protect your assets – in our digitally driven business climate. Here are five ways to get started:

1. Lock the Gateways

You wouldn’t leave your car keys in the ignition, with the doors unlocked and a sign on the hood that says “Free Ride,” right? It’s the same with our data, yet many people leave their data fully exposed to would-be cyber-criminals. More than 4 out of 5 hack-type breaches (81% according to 2016 data analyzed for Verizon’s 10th Annual Data Breach Investigations Report) are directly tied to weak or stolen passwords. Develop – and enforce – a password policy that prevents unapproved password sharing and helps users create strong, hard-to-crack access codes.

2. Safely Park Your Property Management Equipment

If you use company-owned mobile devices and allow employees to use their own cell phones and laptops for company business, it’s time to create policies that protect your physical assets from theft. Secure your on-site property management servers physically behind a locked door. Conduct routine inventory assessments to make sure all your equipment is accounted for, and train employees on how to protect their personal devices against hackers. For example, employees shouldn’t share their cell phones with family members or strangers, or leave their laptops unattended in public spaces.

3. Discourage Wandering Eyes

Data theft may start with non-digital snooping. Confidential and sensitive information should never be left where unauthorized eyes can take a peak. Position fax machines out of public view. Install filters that prevent others from reading information on desktop and laptops. Keep private paper files in folders or turned face down on desks. It only takes a few seconds for someone to glance at a sheet of paper or lift something from a desk when an employee steps away to make a copy or retrieve a brochure. Always secure valuable data – even if it is a bit inconvenient.

4. Shut the Computer Down

Instruct employees to turn off their computers, or put them in a password protected sleep mode every time they step away from their device. Sure, it takes a little longer, but it’s more secure, and wouldn’t rather spend an extra two minutes powering on and off than trying to recover from a data breach?

5. Be Diligent

Pay attention to what happens on your property. Complacency is almost as dangerous as putting out a sign that your data is available for the taking. Don’t just make policy, make sure your policies are consistently followed. Even if you instruct employees not to store password lists, financial data, and other sensitive information on email storage – which is an excellent policy – you should still periodically make sure your policy is in practice. Remember, security threats come from internally and externally. Educate your staff to spot potential threats. Never let your guard down. Build a company culture that is security-minded. Adopt a training policy that gives employees the tools they need to deal with online and face-to-face threats appropriately.

Your Property Management Software Is Your Security Partner

To further protect your valuable data assets, talk to your property management software partner about building an enhanced security and employee training program. You will be glad you did.