Nine ways to improve data security in real estate management
The internet is a main hub for day-to-day operations in almost every sector of business, including real estate. It invites a whole new world of potential threats to your data and that of your clients and prospective customers, from attacks that can hold your computers or buildings hostage to some that can misdirect major money moves. But according to a recent KPMG report, 50% of surveyed businesses in the real estate industry believed they weren’t properly prepared to prevent or mitigate a cyberattack.
To make sure you’re on the right side of that line, follow these best practices that could improve data security at your real estate management company.
- Recognize your risks
Take an inventory of all the high-risk interactions and processes throughout your organization, from payment transactions to tenant communications and beyond. Acknowledging the breadth and depth of these situations will allow you to implement more secure procedures as necessary.
- Stay up to speed on scams
As technology becomes more sophisticated, so do hackers’ attempts to steal your organization’s money and information, and every day they are spinning up new tactics. In addition to plain old check fraud, are you familiar with terms like phishing, business email compromises, and corporate account takeovers? Do you know the forms they could take and the repercussions they could have on your business and your tenants? Staying informed of trending cyberattacks is paramount to protecting your data.
- Train your team
Your own people can be one of the biggest vulnerabilities or best protections, so you should regularly train your entire team on data security. Cover topics like spotting a phishing email, what malware looks like, how to pinpoint a phony URL, the concept of social engineering, and more. Anyone who handles data and uses a computer could benefit from a basic security awareness training. How in-depth you’d like to go from there will depend on the needs of your company and each employee’s role within it.
- Keep your software updated
You know those pesky little software update reminders that pop up on your screen? While it’s tempting (and relatively common) to select the “remind me tomorrow” option, doing so could put you and your entire company at risk for cyberattacks. Don’t leave your data hanging; keep your software updated.
- Standardize internal security practices
Do you have secure password creation and management practices? Are inboxes configured to properly filter out spam and suspicious looking emails? Are there certain user restrictions on company-issued devices? Develop a security protocol and stick to it. Make it a part of the onboarding process for new hires, print signage to hang around the office, or whatever else will help ingrain it into your organization’s daily routine.
- Develop request authentication and wire transfer policies
Some forms of cyberattack will take your assets hostage with little involvement from you, but others can successfully steal your money by simply asking for it—posing as someone else, of course. To avoid being duped, develop, communicate, and enforce multiple-factor authentication processes for providing account information, payment instructions, or moving funds. Enforce these if those requests appear to be coming from a trusted external, or even an internal, source.
- Protect physical data and assets
Is your real estate management company utilizing a secure key management system? Are roles and data access permissions clearly defined? Who oversees handling all the client contracts and leases? Does your office have security cameras at all entrances into the building and the parking lot? You need to think of areas for potential weakness and vulnerability within your current system. By assigning roles and ownership, without handing too much power to one person, you can create a system of checks and balances and leave a documented trail to eliminate potential gaps in client data security.
- Back up your systems
Is your organization backing up important data and files on separate servers or drives? If not, you may become more tempted to pay a ransom because the data is substantially more valuable. Having proper backups and the ability to quickly restore the data won’t help you avoid a cyberattack, but it can make you far less vulnerable to its intended effect.
- Consider a trusted AP automation partner
Is your real estate company still dealing with tons of paper invoices and manually processing paper check payments? Not only do paper processes cost time and money, they can also pose a significant fraud risk—exposing important account information to many different people inside and out of your organization. Industry-leading, cloud-based accounts payable solutions can eliminate the paperchase and fortify your ability to protect important financial information for you and your suppliers.
AvidXchange is the industry leader in automating invoice and payment processes for mid-market businesses. Founded in the year 2000, AvidXchange is distinguished as a global FinTech unicorn and one of the fastest growing technology companies in the U.S.