May 20, 2020
The ongoing pandemic has changed how the world operates. These days, workers from across the globe, including short-term rental operators, are being forced to participate in 'the world’s largest work-from-home experiment' to curb the negative economic and public health effects of the coronavirus.
With revenues hitting record lows and bookings nearing zero, short-term rental operators are left with no choice but to turn to their laptops, go online and try to get as much exposure as possible to attract guests. Since much of the work is being done online, it is crucial that operators implement certain cybersecurity measures to prevent data theft or loss. To help you get started, here are some tips you can employ to achieve a safe, remote working experience:
Learn about all the risks and prepare for them
The first step to keeping your rental business safe is knowing everything there is to know about the current threats and risks. With more time on your hands, expand your understanding of the risks that plague short-term rental businesses. Doing so will help you update your data and security policies and determine which measures are appropriate and effective. Reviewing risks can also prepare you for the new kinds of guests you might encounter during and post pandemic, as international travelers could be few and far between.
While welcoming new guests is great news, you still have to keep your guard up and verify guests by running background checks and credit checks. Since you’ll be dealing with Personally Identifiable Information (PII), make sure you comply with privacy laws and prioritize the interest of the guests. To avoid being another statistic (there were 7.9 billion records breached last year) encrypt sensitive data and enforce strong credentials and multi-factor authentication.
Ensure that your mobile communication tools are safe
Over the years, our mobile devices have become more advanced, featuring parts like capacitive sensors that improve device security by using electricity to determine fingerprint patterns, and metal core printed circuit boards (PCBs) that keep active components cooler by dissipating heat faster than other kinds of PCBs, increasing our phone’s performance and lifespan.
Unfortunately, we often neglect to secure our phones, even when we use them for business purposes. To keep your phone safe, consider using caller protection apps that guard against hackers and send unwanted calls straight to voicemail, and two-factor authentication that double-checks your identity before giving you access to particular accounts. Additionally, when communicating with potential guests through your phone, make sure to use applications that have end-to-end encryption to prevent third parties from accessing data that’s being transferred.
Keep privacy settings on
Nowadays, most, if not all, short-term rental businesses use networking platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, to communicate with potential guests and showcase their properties.. While these social media sites bring you closer to your target market and serve as the perfect place for advertising, they are peppered with hackers lurking in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to attack. To keep these hackers at bay, keep your privacy settings on for all of your social media accounts, as well as your web browser. The settings are often deliberately hard to find as companies can make money out of your data, but you can always look for guidelines on the internet.
Avoid phishing emails
While the majority of businesses maintain communication with customers through property management software (PMS), many still use emails to send formal documents and important files. Although emails are safe from hackers who pose as ‘friends’ or ‘followers’, they are still susceptible to certain cybersecurity threats, such as phishing emails. These kinds of emails usually look a lot like the legitimate ones that come from other businesses or banks and are accompanied by links that, when clicked, install malware into your system. To keep your business safe from phishing emails, watch out for odd email addresses, poor grammar or generic and uncharacteristic greetings, and avoid clicking on links unless you know who they're from.
If you follow these cybersecurity tips, you'll have a much better chance of keeping your business protected. Research the threats, learn how to secure your operations and stay safe.