March 8th, 2019
Homeowners are counting on you to keep their data safe
An important part of self-managing an HOA is protecting your homeowners’ personal and financial information. Thirty years ago, your HOA might’ve locked sensitive paper documents in a file cabinet. But we now live in a digital age. HOAs currently handle the majority of their business online, and for good reason. It’s easier to correspond with board members and residents over email, versus printed memos. Sharing files and forms online is more convenient than passing out paper. And going paperless is practical and environmentally friendly.
Conducting HOA business digitally makes a lot of sense, but it also carries risks. Unless you’re using the proper technology and protocols, homeowner data is vulnerable to financial theft, identity theft, viruses and other threats. There are many online tools and platforms to choose from, but not all of them offer the level of data security your HOA requires.
When selecting and using online technology, here are 6 important things to keep in mind:
- Data encryption
Data encryption converts data into a code, which can only be read or processed once you’ve entered a secure login and password. Encryption is the foundation of online data security, and is the most reliable way to ensure that sensitive information can’t be read or stolen by someone outside of your HOA. Any technology platforms you use to manage homeowners’ financial or personal data should include data encryption.
- Strong passwords
When choosing passwords for your HOA’s online tools, create keys that are complex and impossible to guess. Use more than 8 characters, and a combination of capital and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Avoid common words.
Not good: hoaboard123
To keep passwords secure, don’t click Yes when your computer asks if you want to save the password for future logins. Don’t write your password on a sticky note and leave it on your desk, where others can see it. Change passwords regularly—at least every 6 months.
- Secure document sharing and storage
Instead of using email to send files to board members and homeowners, use a secure file sharing/storage platform. Storing all the forms and files you need in one password-protected place improves data security. It also makes it easier to find documents you need (versus digging through old email threads). When residents need to provide a signature, add an extra layer of security by using an e-signature tool.
- Dedicated messaging platform
Do you keep in touch with fellow HOA board members using a personal or work email address? It’s not uncommon, but it is problematic. Using your work email to conduct HOA business creates a data security issue, as employers have a right to track company emails. By using a personal email account, you’re mixing secure HOA information in with your personal correspondence. A better approach is to create dedicated email accounts for all HOA board members, to be used exclusively for HOA business. Not only is this more secure, it also presents a more professional, unified front to homeowners.
- Legal compliance
To comply with laws that affect your HOA, it’s important to use software that’s frequently updated to align with new laws and policies.
- Paper document storage
Even if your HOA embraces technology, chances are you still have some hard copies containing sensitive info. To keep these safe, follow this best practice for secure data storage: Use multiple, independent locked access points. In other words, if you keep sensitive materials in a locked file cabinet, the cabinet should be in a room or closet that locks with a separate key.
Self manage your HOA simply and securely with JSP Toolbox
JSP Toolbox uses Basecamp, Gmail and QuickBooks to help you self-manage your HOA securely and easily. Data encryption to safeguard financial data? Check. Secure file sharing and storage? Check. Dedicated message platform and updated legal compliance? Check, check.
With JSP Toolbox, everything you need is in one centralized, online location, which all HOA board members can access via secure login. JSP Toolbox was created by JSP Properties, a full-service property management company that’s been doing business for over twenty years. We drew on our expertise to select only the very best, most secure technology for JSP Toolbox. Try it free for 30 days!
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Posted In: Governance