Category Archives: cyber security


Protecting Tenant Data 

Landlords and homeowner associations often are privy to a wide variety of tenant data from financial statements and credit scores to personal contact information. With this access to tenant information comes a great responsibility to protect that data from cyber criminals and anyone looking to use it with malicious intent. 

Think about the vast amount of data that could be collected from a digital or physical file on a tenant. Social security numbers, credit card numbers, addresses, personal contact information, and banking numbers are just the start of information that could be mined from a database kept by landlords or homeowners associations (HOAs). 

Today, let’s take a closer look at what type of information is usually retained regarding individual tenants and how your company or organization can help keep that data secure. 

computer data

Types of Data Landlords Keep 

In order to keep an apartment complex, apartment units, or homeowners associations running, there needs to be a fair amount of sharing of information in order to pay the bills, mortgages, and vendors who service the community. 

That being said, there is quite a bit of information needed by landlords. Some of these types of data include: 

Tenant Files 

These files will include the basic contact and rental agreements signed between the management company and the tenant. It will include names, addresses, background information, any pet agreements, and car information including registration and license for parking areas. 

Additionally, the tenant files will include when the person(s) began renting and the date they moved out. 

Financial Files 

Renting an apartment unit or being a part of a homeowners association involves the payment of money on a monthly or quarterly basis. 

With payments, comes a bevy of information about credit cards, credit scores, bank routing numbers, and financial information that, if stolen, could be used maliciously. This information could be used for fraud, identity theft, or phishing scams

This information is required by landlords and each state has its requirements for the amount of time that rental business owners must retain financial records.

Vendor Files 

In order to successfully manage a property many landlords and HOAs rely on third party vendors to complete things such as: landscaping, pool maintenance, snow plowing, plumbing, electrical, and the list could go on and on. 

All of these invoices and receipts could also have vital financial and personal information that would be alluring to cyber criminals looking for vulnerabilities. 

phone apps

How To Protect Sensitive Tenant & Vendor Information 

There are many ways that a landlord or property management company can protect data. From using secure passwords to limiting access to sensitive data, here are a few of our suggestions as a reputable property management company. 

  • Use strong passwords. We also suggest investing in a password manager to keep track and choose strong passwords for the multitude of files and data you will collect. 
  • Limit access to sensitive data to only those who need to use it for work. 
  • Install antivirus software and keep it updated. 
  • Install all patches as recommended by manufacturers. 
  • Limit internet use and non-work use for work devices to stop the problems of unsecure websites. 
  • Use dual authentication or multifactor authentication. 
  • Encrypt your emails, especially those with financial information. 
  • Dispose of files (properly) after the required holding period. 

Need more advice on keeping sensitive data private? Our expert team of professional property managers are highly skilled and experienced in all Thayer & Associates best practices.


software on a laptop

Benefits of Association Software in 2021

Running an association can be difficult and time consuming work. Responsibilities run the gamut from collecting association payments online to handling vendors for landscaping, electrical work, and plumbing issues. In addition to these tasks, constant communication with the HOA board and association members is necessary to make a property run well. Association software is one way to help streamline these tasks and make them more manageable. 

texting communication

What is HOA Software? 

Software helps most of us stay organized and on top of what’s going on in our home and work lives. For instance, many of us use a calendar program to stay up-to-date on family and work dates. We use accounting software to pay our bills automatically. We may even use a timekeeper app to keep us on schedule. 

HOA software is similar to these personal software programs in that they can help HOA boards or property managers handle a specific aspect of HOA’s operations such as operations, payments, scheduling, and CC&R (Covenants, Conditions, & Restrictions) enforcement. 

Many times HOA software comes in a convenient bundle to manage all of these components of association life, but sometimes specialty platforms and programs should be used to help keep things organized. 

phone apps

What Are the Benefits of HOA Software? 

When it comes to managing an association, software can mean the difference between a well-maintained property and community amenities and one that needs some work. Here are the top benefits for enlisting the help of HOA software in your community. 


HOA’s store and transmit quite a bit of personal and sensitive information including the payment methods, names, addresses, and phone numbers of all the people living in the community. Software that is backed by current security measures can keep that information from being hacked or falling into the wrong hands, ones with malicious intent. 

Streamline Data

Running a property or community means lots of maintaining information from the people who live there as well as from the vendors who help maintain the property. Requests for repairs, reports of CC&R violations, and payments can be done automatically with software at your fingertips. 

Improved Communications 

Depending upon the software you choose, everyone in your community will most likely have some level of access to communications whether it is a weekly newsletter or announcements of changes/repairs that are upcoming in the association. Both internal and external communications can improve by using software to help spread pertinent information to the right groups of people.

For a substantial list of the best software being used by communities across the country and right here in Massachusetts, check out this list of programs or platforms you may want to try out to manage your community.  


Protecting Association Data from Cyber Crimes

In our last blog we examined the physical security needs of homeowners associations and how screening, communication, surveillance, and access limitations can bring peace of mind to homeowners. This week, we are looking at some of the steps an HOA and Condo associations can protect their communities from cyber crimes.

Think about all the information that a condo association has at its fingertips. The data kept for Board of Director purposes and billing purposes may include each homeowner’s name, address, phone number, email, bank check routing number, tax information, credit card number, and probably social security number.

Given the scope and depth of the data that a homeowners association has, it would stand to reason that there would be many layers of security to protect that data. Unfortunately, many HOAs do not have the resources to protect sensitive data as they should.

Knowing that defenses may be down in a small business like an HOA, hackers have been known to attack in some common ways. Here are a few questions to consider when arranging your HOA cybersecurity measures.

Who should have access to the data?

Cyber experts believe that HOA boards should determine exactly who can gain access to sensitive data and who will not be given access. Keep the list of people who will have access to only those who will need it to deal with finances and condo owner issues. In addition, HOAs should limit where the data can be accessed. Unfortunately, an association’s odds of falling victim to a successful data breach increase every time someone downloads association information and stores it on their personal computer.


Is there an IT consultant who can help?

Every HOA should have an expert they can call upon when there are questions about things like firewalls, dual authentication, passwords, backups, and how to maintain security for the HOA server. An HOA can hire IT experts on a full-time basis, or as contractors. This person can train personnel as to what to look for in suspect or malicious emails, viruses, and security breaches.


What type of cyber insurance does your HOA have?

Board members for your HOA should routinely check with their condo insurance broker about the community’s potential cyber risks and what type of cyber insurance coverage may be appropriate for your association. Known also as cyber liability, cyber risk, or data breach insurance, this type of liability insurance protects the HOA in the event of data breaches, viruses, network attacks, computer theft, and other losses or compromises of the HOA’s computers, network, or websites.

Cybercriminals only need to see a small vulnerability to make their way into your HOA data. Do you have a strong security protocol for your association? For more information contact Thayer & Associates, Inc., AMO at 617.354.6480 or visit our website.


How Secure Is Your Homeowners Community?

New England, and Boston in particular, is a pretty safe place to call home. Unfortunately, no community is immune to crime. Burglars are always looking for vulnerabilities and cracks in security systems to infiltrate and take advantage. This is true in single-family residences, apartments, and condos as well. Security, therefore, is one of the main tasks of a solid homeowners association.

If you live in a condo in the Boston area or in the surrounding communities, how secure do you feel your condo association is? Do you feel safe walking at night, visiting common areas, or navigating the parking lot? These are all things that can point to good security within an association. Let’s take a closer look at some of the security protocols your association can and should be maintaining for the safety of all who live in your community.


Smoke, Fire, and CO

It is imperative that an association understand and maintain these three security practices when designing and building a condo complex. It is the board’s duty to maintain, repair, and replace common area security for smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide detection. Compliance for these fundamental security steps is mandated both locally and federally.

Screening Vendors

Most condo associations have common areas that are maintained by outside vendors. For example, vendors are used to maintain elevators, landscaping, pools, gyms, and gardens, as well as to paint, and repair the exterior areas. HOAs should regularly screen the vendors to make sure they have the proper permitting, licensing, and insurance. Many HOAs make it a policy to inform owners when a vendor will be on the property and for what reason. This screening and communication can give owners a sense of security when they find repair personnel around the grounds of their building.


Access and Surveillance

No one likes a security camera watching them at every turn, but they are a big deterrent for criminals who do not want to see their crime on the nightly news or social media. Surveillance cameras can be a great deterrent in both interior and exterior common areas. In addition, many HOAs have access keypads that make common areas accessible to only community members. Include well-lit walkways, driveways, and ancillary parking lots and condo owners will have peace of mind when they are at home.

What are some of the security protocols that your association uses? What protocols do you feel are missing. Join in the conversation in the comments below. The next blog will take a closer look at digital security for association data. If you have questions about security in your HOA, call Thayer & Associates, Inc., AMO at 617.354.6480 or visit our website.