Data breaches are becoming a common occurrence, a situation that should be a cause for concern for Bridgewater rental property owners. When you lease a property, you collect sensitive personal data from your tenants, which may find its way into the hands of identity thieves unless handled correctly. To protect your tenant’s sensitive information in today’s digital world, you either need advanced IT skills, or you’ll need to consider working with a property management company that does. Either way, there are a few things you can do to ensure that your tenant’s personal information stays safe and secure.
1. Use Strong Passwords and Firewalls
In general, the more random your passwords are, the less likely they’ll be hacked. Avoid using simple passwords that include words or easy-to-find number sequences (like a phone number). Instead, create strong passwords for your Wi-Fi, computers, and cloud storage accounts. Avoid accessing tenant data while using unsecured Wi-Fi networks, like those commonly found in coffee shops and libraries. Another important security measure is to enable a firewall on your computer. A firewall can create a good barrier between hackers and your tenant’s sensitive data. If you don’t know how to install one, enlist the help of an IT professional.
2. Prevent Malware
Along with a firewall, any computer you use to access tenant data needs to have anti-malware software installed on it. Anti-malware software can help keep hackers and identity thieves from getting the information they shouldn’t if they get past your firewall. Hackers will try to bypass your firewall by sending you links that will download malware onto your hard drive when you click on them. You may not even be aware that you’ve done so. Once installed, malware can be extremely difficult to remove and often requires a professional’s help to do so.
3. Take Privacy Seriously
You may need your tenant’s personal data for good reasons, but you should have a secured system set up to ensure that you don’t accidentally violate their privacy. If possible, avoid storing their social security numbers or credit card information in locations that are easily accessible. Be very careful with any documents that may include your tenant’s personal information, including phone numbers and addresses, and shred any document you no longer need immediately – never throw documents in the trash. Even one small act of negligence could put you on the hook for serious legal liabilities, especially if the privacy breach can be traced back to your information handling practices.
4. Call the Experts
With so much riding on your ability to protect your tenant’s sensitive information, it may be smarter and more efficient to call in professionals to help. While you can set up and manage all of your own security measures, you may find it far more cost-effective to hire a property management company to provide all of the essential services you need. National property management firms like Real Property Management have the resources to provide high-level security for both you and your tenants. Our information security goes beyond even the measures described in this article, ensuring that your tenant’s personal information remains safe and secure and offering you total peace of mind.
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