When you manage a homeowner association (HOA) or condominium association (COA), it’s important to protect your client’s information. Association managers often have access to highly sensitive data such as HOA/COA financial accounts and other residents’ personal information. Therefore, we recommend having several safety protocols in place.
A software platform like CINC Systems takes data security very seriously and employs many state-of-the-art safeguards to protect client information. With CINC Systems, all the data for the associations you manage will be safe in the cloud. Still, it’s important to consider security protocols. Understanding the safety measures that protect your clients’ association information will help put their minds at ease.
If you find yourself wondering what safety protocols should be in place when managing association information, consider the following.
First, do your homework and choose the best association management software for your company. Look for HOA/COA management software that is reliable. Read online reviews or talk to other association managers to learn about their experiences using association management software.
We also recommend talking to the management company about their system. Ask them how their software protects your clients’ data and find out how often they issue updates. Hackers often find new ways to steal data, so it’s important to choose software that receives regular security updates. Make sure you purchase HOA/COA management software that has an active customer support team available to help you in the event of any security emergencies.
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Today, almost all data stored in remote online servers (also known as “the cloud”) will be encrypted. Encryption means your HOA/COA client data will be “scrambled” when it gets uploaded. If someone accessed the data, it would be useless gibberish unless their computer software had the right key to decode it.
Software companies use many different types of data encryption. Currently, a type of encryption called 256-bit SSL is considered the most secure, as it is very difficult to crack without a decryption key. Talk to your HOA/COA management company and find out what type of encryption they use to protect your data.
Next, ask your association management company about the servers that their system is housed on. A server is a computer dedicated to storing and processing remote data in the cloud. Thanks to encryption and other security measures like firewalls, servers are usually very difficult to hack. However, it has been known to happen.
That’s why the best HOA/COA software platform will spread user data across multiple servers, not just one. Then, even if some of your clients’ account information is compromised in a security breach, other data will remain untouched on separate servers. Many software companies even store different servers in different physical locations–sometimes in different timezones–for additional protection.
Firewalls and antivirus software are also very important safety protocols for your clients’ HOA/COA information. A firewall refers to software or hardware that adds extra digital “layers” between computers, making them more difficult to hack. Your association management software company most likely uses several firewalls to protect your data in the cloud. However, we also recommend installing a firewall on your own company’s computers to be extra safe.
Antivirus software, meanwhile, protects your computer from malware. Malware often gives hackers “backdoor access” to your software data, sometimes without you being aware of it until it’s too late. There are thousands of different types of malware that can be accidentally installed on your computer by opening a spam email or clicking a bad link. Luckily, antivirus software protects you from this. It can catch malware before it gets installed or removes it from your computer if it still sneaks in.
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Most data breaches are the work of sophisticated hackers. However, sometimes they happen due to sheer human error. One of the biggest risks to your HOA/COA management company’s information is sharing passwords among employees. Make sure each employee who uses your company’s software has their own account with their own unique password. Never share passwords with anyone.
It’s also important to create secure passwords. You’ve heard this before, but it is tried and true… don’t use a password that would be easy for someone else to guess, such as the name of your management company or personal information like the name of your dog. Instead, experts recommend using a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Make your password at least eight characters long (16 is ideal) and get creative. Substitute numbers for letters (such as “4” for “A”) and use unique acronyms that only you would know.
Experts recommend changing your software passwords every 90 days. Additionally, never store your passwords in an email, spreadsheet, or Word document on your computer. If you have difficulty remembering your password, try using a keychain app like LastPass.
Finally, assess the safety protocols at physical locations. Although most data breaches occur online, it’s important to make sure your clients’ information is still secure in its physical location. Talk to your association management software company about the security measures they employ for their servers. Most companies store their servers in secure locations with security cameras and alarms.
Consider your own security, too. Make sure your office has protections in place to prevent theft. Use locks for desktop computers and laptops, and store tablets in a safe when not in use. When you or your employees work remotely, make sure you never leave your laptop or tablet unattended.
CINC Systems uses the best safety protocols to protect your association management information. With CINC Systems, we take every precaution to make sure your clients’ data is secure in the cloud.
Although there’s always the remote possibility of a data breach, the benefits of HOA/COA management software far outweigh the risk. Using CINC Systems will give your business the tools to succeed and grow. From accounting features to online work order processing and more, CINC Systems is the only association management software you’ll ever need.