The 2020 pandemic has altered the way we work and interact. As social distancing remains one of the most effective ways to decrease the risk of spreading the coronavirus disease, remote work has become the “new normal.”
Once work from home policies were successfully implemented in many companies globally, cyber security became a point of concern. The remote network environment doesn’t always ensure data security and privacy, so employers need to go the extra mile to create a safe digital workplace regardless of employees’ location.
For landlords this “new reality” represents an additional challenge. While many tenants work from home at this time, it’s important to ensure that there is a high-speed and safe internet connection. In addition, landlords using cloud-based property management systems are responsible for not only keeping their personal data safe but also making sure that their tenants are protected from cyber crime, meaning their financial and personal information is securely stored and not shared with any third party.
In 2020, the US Federal Trade Commission received about 1.4 million reports of identity theft. Once the government introduced unemployment benefits and small business loan programs to assist vulnerable populations during the pandemic, the number of identity thefts increased in comparison to the previous year.
Apparently, the risk of identity theft is higher now during the pandemic, so let’s look at ways it can be prevented:
1. Keep your personal data confidential - the golden rule.
Even children are aware that you should not disclose personal information to a stranger. The same applies to the internet environment: never provide access to your accounts to anyone and be proactive if you become aware of any suspicious login activity on your accounts.
That is especially important during the tax season. Here you can get the tips on how to protect your identity when filing taxes online.
2. Data encryption.
Cloud-based software systems used for storing accounting or other sensitive information should have a secure protocol in place. For example, here at TenantCloud, we use 256-bit encryption through SSL and store the user information in highly secure AWS data centers.
Related: How To Choose Rental Property Management Software: 9 Tips To Help You Decide
3. Be careful when connecting to public Wi-Fi.
For hackers, it’s easier to get your information when you’re connected to a wireless public network. So it’s best to limit file sharing and AirDrop when using public Wi-Fi and install a VPN on all your devices.
If you’re concerned about a particular website’s security, check the icon to the left of the web address. The websites with a “lock” symbol are considered trusted sources while the ones with a “not secure” warning provide little to no privacy.
4. Use strong, unique passwords.
12345- If your password looks like this, wave goodbye to your personal data. Simple, easy-to-remember passwords won’t provide sufficient protection to your account.
5. Consider Two-Factor Authentication.
Two-Factor Authentication gives an extra layer of security and is one of the safest ways to keep your data private.
Let’s take a closer look at the two final points:
It’s no surprise that generating strong unique passwords is essential to ensure your accounts’ safety. Ideally, passwords should consist of a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. You may want to utilize a password generator tool that creates strong passwords and protects all your logins. It also makes sense to consider a password storage app to have all passwords stored in one place for easy access.
Additionally, check out some basic yet effective tips from TenantCloud’s Fraud Prevention Officer Ross:
“Use a strong password” - a common piece of advice most of us have heard many times. Let’s breakdown how “strong” your password should be and how to easily remember it:
- Make sure you do not use the same passphrase for all of your accounts on the web or use basic templates such as: “Pass123”, “Qwerty123” etc. If accesses your data and receives credentials to one of your accounts, your other accounts would be at risk as well.
- Try utilizing a secure password manager application.
- An ideal length for a password doesn’t exist, but passwords between 12-14 words are considered strong. Longer passwords are always better than shorter.
- Use numbers, special symbols (exclamation point, percent sign, backslash etc), and both upper and lower case letters.
- Don’t replace letters with numbers in easily recognizable ways - ie “h0use” for “house.”
Try relating your password to your personality or background. For example, you could take the phrase, “The first house I ever lived in was 789 Fake Street. Rent was $200 per month,” and turn it into a password, using the first letter of each word: “TfhIeliw789FS.Rw$2pm”. As a result, you get a strong enough password with 21 symbols. And it’s easy to remember!
At TenantCloud, we encourage our users to secure their accounts by enabling Two-Factor Authentication, which requires a password, email/username and also an additional code sent to the user’s device for access. Such a procedure helps to prevent any fraudulent activities or digital crime.
According to Twitter poll results, 39% of TenantCloud users use Two-Factor Authentication to verify their identity and only 2% of respondents don’t care about cybersecurity at all.
Related: Top 5 Advantages of Cloud Based Property Management Software: How To Save Your Time And Money
Online Payments Security
Practicing safe cyber security means ensuring that online financial transactions will successfully hit a recipient’s bank account.
Digital transactions are considered more secure than cash or personal check transactions since the banking information is strongly encrypted to prevent any unauthorized access. Unlike paper checks, ACH payments don’t require you to provide your bank account information multiple times.
With a credit card processing system like Stripe, you can be sure that your banking information is safe and secure. The system uses the best security tools and encrypts the sensitive data and communication.
If you’re accepting rent and other property-related payments with Stripe, encourage your tenants to use two-factor authentication when logging in, create strong passwords and monitor any suspicious activity on the account.
As we all store and share a ton of information online, cyber security should be our top priority. Taking precautions like creating unique passwords and double checking websites to ensure they are secure before taking any actions are just some preliminary steps that should protect you from any fraudulent activities on your accounts.
5 Tips How to Rent Out Your First Property: The New Landlords Guide