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Community management companies oversee a significant amount of sensitive information for the HOAs they serve, especially as part of various accounting tasks. This responsibility includes managing information that has potential to become vulnerable due to more digital processes and a rising number of cyber thieves.

More Opportunity, Easier Access

Accounting systems have always contained confidential information, such as birth dates, addresses and phone numbers, banking and card account numbers, and even social security numbers. Paper processes meant that the information could be secured in lockable filing cabinets. There was limited access and few criminals interested in breaking into a community property management office for these files.

What’s changed is that putting this accounting information into the digital environment creates more opportunity for hackers to grab larger amounts of valuable data with less effort. Many community property management companies may not realize that they are at risk for data breaches. Do you have a proven strategy for securing your accounting systems and the data they hold?

Why This Risk Matters

When there is a breach and data is stolen from a community property management company’s accounting system, it’s not just frustrating or upsetting. There are serious consequences for those who have lost the data and those that were charged with protecting it. For those residents who have their data compromised, they must now struggle to get their digital and physical identities back from the fraudsters, which costs both time and money.

For the community property management company who was supposed to protect that data, the costs includes potential fines, penalties, and lawsuits. On top of that, the situation could lead to a tarnished brand reputation where HOA communities no longer want to work with that company. From there, that damage can lead other potential community clients to select a company with no data breaches.

Here are five accounting security strategies that you might consider for your company’s financial, community, and resident data:

  1. Undertake a security assessment: Security consultants are adept at uncovering any vulnerabilities in your hardware and software. Their expertise can also provide you with a customized strategy to improve your accounting systems and information technology processes. They can recommend third-party cloud storage, virus software, and how to identify and address data breaches.
  2. Improve your physical security: Since you will still have computer systems and other equipment used for accounting purposes in your office, it is important to start with the basics of knowing how to protect physical assets against theft. Have a plan in place for locking doors, keeping cables in a secure environment, and designating access to certain office equipment to minimize the risk of unauthorized access. For mobile devices potentially used for data storage, consider adding tracking software should they be stolen.
  3. Increase authentication measures: Authentication is a security strategy that helps determine if an individual accessing a device or signing into various accounts and files, is who they claim to be. While you may have a log-in and password, that is just one layer that can be easily broken into. Now, it is important to add multiple layers of authentication. This might include a two-step process with log-in and password and then a code sent to another device like a smartphone that must be entered. There is also biometric authentication, including facial or fingerprint recognition. Another benefit of using additional authentication measures is the ability to set up profiles that define different user access, such as access only to accounts payable, reports, or designated files.
  4. Implement a detailed security policy for all staff: It is important to educate all team members about security, especially any one that is part of your remote workforce. Having a policy in place that defines the do’s and don’ts will help speed up understanding and provide a formal structure for greater security when it comes to accounting data and community information. For example, the security policy should define what devices can be used, where data should be stored, and how to regularly change passwords. It can also list policies like not sharing passwords and how to address suspicious activity related to files and data.
  5. Regularly update software: Cybercriminals use older versions of software to test for vulnerabilities that they can exploit. When it comes to software updates, they most likely have not had time to study and crack those versions. The lesson here is to continually update all your software, including accounting products and virus protection. The latest versions will have the greatest ability to shut down viruses, malware, and hacker tactics designed for older software. Along the same lines, all data should be regularly backed up to protect the critical information and keep it safe from thieves.

An Information Security Partner

Innovia is here to help you navigate the best security measures to keep your accounting, community, and resident data safe. As part of a collective, we work with a number of organizations and experts.

Contact us today to find out how we can work better together.