Cybersecurity Tune-Up

by Taressa Dominguez, TSSA Director of Education & Marketing
April 28, 2020

As more and more self-storage facilities conduct business online and are shifting to no-contact leasing due to the public health crisis, the need for cybersecurity is at an all-time high and only increasing.  According to Ponemon Institute’s 2019 Global State of Cybersecurity in Small & Medium-Sized Businesses study, 66 percent of small businesses experienced a cyber attack, while 63 percent experienced a data breach with significant financial consequences.  The cause for concern is warranted—more than half of small and medium-sized businesses suffered losses due to cyber attacks in 2019 alone.  Add that to the current situation where the health crisis has forced self storage to move as much business online as possible, and you have a dire need to assess your facility’s cybersecurity protection.

However alarming the headlines and data may be, you can protect your business from cyber attacks by being alert and proactive.  Precaution and planning today can go a long way tomorrow.

Create a Security Plan 

Start with identifying the information you want to protect—the information that you need to conduct your business.  Once you’ve identified the types of information you want to protect, you can better implement procedures and programs to do so.  It is likely that you will want to protect multiple types of informationfrom customer records and payment processing to basic business records—making it entirely appropriate to layer your security programs and procedures. 

Address Your Vulnerabilities

To keep your sensitive information safe and out of the hands of hackers, you will need to limit access points to your system, as well as safeguard information to which access could be gained. 
Use security software.  Make sure you are guarding against malware, including antivirus and antispyware, and updating regularly oreven better—automatically.
Protect your network.  Utilize firewalls and encryption, as well as password-protect your staff Wi-Fi network and keep it hidden.
Manage your passwords.  Make them long and hard to guess.  You might even consider using a password manager program to help keep track.
Opt for multifactor identification. Requiring an additional access code just adds a layer of protection.
Scrutinize your emails.  If an email is suspicious, or you don’t know the sender, or you do know the sender but don’t recognize the email address when you mouse over it, do not open or click on anything in that email. Viewing emails in preview mode helps with this.
Create a backup.  Consider backing up your system to the cloud, or to an external device as well as the cloud.  If anything happens to the physical backup, you’ll still have the cloud version.  Not only does this help protect you against ransomware attacks, it can also be a lifesaver if your computer ever crashes.

Train Your Employees

Human errors or negligence lead to most cybersecurity breaches.  The Ponemon study indicates that 70 percent of breaches in the United States were due to negligent employees or contractors.  Whether due to a weak employee password or an innocent click on an email, breaches are likely to happen if we do not keep training staff to be hyper-vigilant and informed of the evolving vulnerabilities your facility faces.  

As these attacks continue to grow and become more sophisticated, the self-storage response must remain at-the-ready and prepared to adapt to new threats.  It isn’t enough to put a security program in place and be done.  You must also regularly evaluate your success in thwarting cyber attacks and consider the evolving creativity of these hackers.  Stay up-to-date and continue to assess your vulnerabilities.  Your creativity in defending your business must also evolve with the threat.

What are you doing to strengthen your cybersecurity?  

Let us know.

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