Category Archives: Administrator

We told you so! Your online data is NOT SAFE!

Angry Property ManagerThe ink was barely dry on our in depth article http://www.tfblog.tenantfile.com/2013/10/think-again-before-putting-confidential-data-in-the-cloud/ on the security of your data before another MAJOR breach happened. (Actually, we type on a screen but if we were using ink, it would still be wet!). The latest is Target, with TENS OF MILLIONS losing their valuable personal and financial information.

Just to name a few besides Target, this year thieves have stolen identities, personal records, passwords, financial information, credit card number, and more from the likes of Gmail, Twitter, Living Social, Barnes and Noble, TJ Max, Marshall’s, Adobe and many, many other companies. How safe do you really think your online data is?

What is your property management company responsible for?   Dos your software keep the  personal information of your owners including names, addresses, phone numbers, email, social security numbers, employers, and more? How about bank account numbers, routing numbers, and passwords? What do you think would happen if all of that private information was exposed to an identity theft ring? Would your cloud-based software company be held responsible, or would you?

And that is just the owners: what about your own company information and your tenant information? A security breach could literally put you out of business overnight. It could take months or even years for the mess to get resolved and there could be legal ramifications as well.

Additionally, if your ‘cloud-based’ software experienced a major data breach, it could easily shut down the whole process to stop the hemorrhaging.  Even if your own data wasn’t compromised, your entire business would be shut down without access to your records. What if they never recovered and went out of business – with your owner, your tenant, and your own data and financial records?

We are hearing daily from customers that are refusing to put their valuable data online, and we share their concerns. Please be aware of what if going on, and make sure ‘at least’ that you use passwords that are not easy to guess, although in our opinion that is a false security – everything can be stolen by savvy crooks. Well, here’s to the next major news story about another security breach. I hope it isn’t you, but at least if you use the Tenant File you have control of your own data!

Think Again Before Putting Confidential Data in the Cloud

Cloud Clip Art

The ‘Cloud’ – it is everywhere – literally. That is what the cloud is … a place to house data spread out over an untold number of computers and servers throughout the world.  About 70% of all Americans use the cloud to some degree. With the multitude of mobile devices, it works wonders. You can access your music and videos everywhere, you can update your calendar in sync with other devices, and you can store your sensitive data there. Wait, maybe not the last one. Here are some serious considerations before you put your confidential data in the cloud.

Rain Cloud Clip Art

Our government wouldn’t pry into my data, would it?  Heard of the NSA? By now, probably all Americans have, and not all of it is good. In fact, some of the news is downright unsettling. Now, with the Patriot Act and the NSA’s interpretation of it, your data on the Internet is less safe. The federal government can now get to your data or your client’s data simply by issuing a subpoena, no court order is needed. On top of that, there is plenty of evidence that government agencies are not even bothering with a subpoena in some cases, as the NSA has admitted that some of its employees have gathered information on their own account.  So if you manage data for your clients, and the NSA has suspicions regarding one of them, your data could be shared with others – client names, Ids, social security numbers, financial transactions, and more.

 

Backing up Property Manager dataMy data is backed up in the cloud, right?  Sure, there are redundant backups of your data. That means more servers with your information and more avenues for compromising it.  Has your computer ever gone down? Well, so do servers. And when that happens, your data is inaccessible. Maybe there is a hacker attack and the server is shut down for safety reasons, or maybe the electrical grid is compromised, or a natural disaster happens, the list is endless. If you are running your application on the cloud, your business is dead in the water, and your clients have no access to their data. You can’t process any payments, pay bills, or market your business because everything your business does is done online. Maybe someday you can get the data back, but it could be days or weeks to re-enter lost information. Imaging that if your data is lost and there are hundreds or millions of other clients hosted on the same server, how long would it take to get to you?

 

What happens when they post the ‘Out of Business’ sign?  In the real world, when you do business with a company and they fold, you pick up and find another company. But, what if your entire business is dependent on that company and all of your data is held by that company? What if your log in just stops working and your calls are not returned? You clients will certainly be calling you and demanding answers. You may never recover your data or your client’s data. Your valuable information is suddenly gone, and you will have to start from scratch.

 

My monthlMonthly payments for real estate companiesy payments are reasonable, is the cloud a good deal?  Certainly it is for the vendors. According to the research firm IDC, 2012 revenues are estimated to be 42 billion dollars and estimates for 2013 are as high as 131 billion, according to Gartner, a leading information technology research and advisory company. Consumers are used to monthly payments drafted from their bank account, but often don’t realize the eventual cost. For example, property managers that use ‘software as a service’ (SAAS) typically pay an amount per managed property, and a dollar per property is common. So, if you manage 20 rental units, you’ll pay $20.00 month. But that cost is unending, and can go up at the vendors’ discretion. You pay the increase, or else they can switch you off, effectively shutting down your business. Let’s say you pick up management on a 200 unit apartment building.  Your monthly cost skyrockets to $220.00 per month, or $2640.00 per year just to use their software.

Hackers magnifying glass

Can hackers access my data and my customer data?  Computer hacking is at an epidemic level and they are extremely sophisticated. Hackers can attack major web servers to garner information and filter out all of the email address, bank account numbers, and social security numbers. It doesn’t matter is they know the customer name; they have what they need to steal the identities of your customers.  Once your user name and password is obtained, the rest of your data is there for the taking.  It doesn’t have to be a genius hacker in a dark basement in a foreign country. They can be sitting at a table in the same restaurant or coffee shop while you work on a public Wi-Fi network, stealing from your cloud-based transactions if your application does not use secure HTTPS data transfer.

 

Data outage for property management companyWhat other factors could affect my data?  There are other ways to compromise your data. One way is a malicious ‘denial of service’ where automated systems flood a server to the point that it has to shut down, leaving the customers stranded. In 2011, about 15% of all small businesses were affected by such an interruption, and a whopping 30% of all large businesses were affected. Often those attacks are not reported or even noticed if they are quickly addressed, but other attacks have caused complete outages. Another way that your data could be affected is by natural disasters at the server site, cyber attacks, and electrical grid attacks. While a customer might understand if your business was affected by a fire or hurricane, they might not understand that a server in France could affect their valuable information. If your business was affected, you could take your backups to another computer system, but your cloud data is beyond your control.

 

Does youTwitter bird realtor down timer provider promise they are online 99.5 percent of the time?  That looks great, who can complain about just a .05 percent downtime? Lots of businesses can, and in fact this is only a promise usually not supported by a ‘guarantee’ that compensates you if it doesn’t work out.  Doing the math you’ll find that the ‘expected’ downtime is 44 hours per year, or 3.6 hours per week that your business can’t operate if it depends on the cloud to run.  However, you will still need to pay all of your employees for that time.

 

Are we trying to discourage people from using the cloud? No, having access to shared data is fantastic for many applications, especially for sharing videos, pictures, books, text messages, email, non-confidential documents, and a host of apps. Just think twice about committing your business to the cloud, be aware of the pitfalls, and ask the right questions of potential cloud based vendors. Your information and the records of your customers are too valuable to put at risk. Here are some suggestions of what you might ask of your cloud-based vendor if you are considering moving your business to the cloud.

15 Things to ask your cloud computer vendor:

1. Do you have a disaster recovery plan? Tell me about it.

2. Will I be notified of any down time, either planned or unplanned?This to ask cloud computer vendor

3. Will you provide me with my own copy of my data in usable form?

4. Do you sub-contract out my data to a different company or hosting service?

5. Do you use a secure gateway for transfer of data?

6. Is my valuable data encrypted? To what level of security?

7. What compensation would I receive if my data is lost?

8. What level of employee in your company has access to my data?

9. Does your company provide encryption of email addresses to eliminate spam?

10. Is my data kept separated from other companies?

11. If I miss a payment, will my business be cut off?

12. Is my data redundancy stored over multiple geographic locations?

13. What percentage of ‘up-time’ can you guarantee?

14. Is the data that you maintain subject to government inspection?

15. If I switch to another company will I be able to get exported files?

Tragic Times Lately

Seems like by the time we get over one disaster, there is another. The Boston Marathon bombing was still fresh in our minds, then the explosion in West, Texas happened. While one was deliberate and one probably wasn’t, the outcome is still the same. Families have lost love ones, children were robbed of a long life and many will endure pain and suffering for the rest of their lives.

Being from Texas, some of us drove through West and saw the outpouring of assistance and love that neighbors, friends, families, and civil workers showed to help those affected. I guess that is the bright point in an otherwise devastating event.

Now, the entire country is shocked by the massive tornadoes that tore through Oklahoma, Kansas, and other nearby states. More destruction, more death, and more pain. I brings home the point that none of us have a guarantee to live a long life. We have to live our lives today in a way that we would be proud of if we were gone tomorrow. At the Tenant File and with our friends in Texas we are praying for all of the victims and their families. We hope that the volunteers can bring them comfort and that time will heal the painful memories.

Announcing beta for a new Tenant Screening feature!

With our new tenant screening partner, Background Info USA, we have developed a new feature which will save time for Tenant File users. This is the ability to export, save and update the Tenant File with the new applicant information.

When you use the Tenant File tenant screening, you now have the ability to have your applicant fill in their rental application online. The applicant can also pay their application fee and a notice will be emailed to you.  Once you approve the applicant, you can now export their information to a file that you would save in a folder on your computer.  The file is in CSV (comma separated value) format, and is a convenient way to save all of your applicant information in one place.

With the new beta for tenant screening, the Tenant File has created an program that will display all applicants in the folder in a spreadsheet type format, or individually per applicant. When you are ready to move in the applicant into a vacant rental, the Tenant File will automatically transfer the basic applicant information into the program.

If you are interested in trying out this service, please give us a call at 1-800-398-3904, and we will email you the program for free.

Thanks!

The Tenant File Property Management Software

 

Great DOMAIN NAMES for your Property Management business!

As you know, a great domain name is critical for your business. Your domain name is your identity on the web, and should be something that is memorable for your customers.  A great domain name tells the Internet searcher that your business is real and established.

Secondly, a domain name is valuable as a tool to get your website found. If you domain name is ‘www.EfficientPMCompany.com’ you can’t expect for anyone to type that into the browser bar, and it will be hard to get a good Google Placement. It is important to Google that you have some of the ‘keywords’ in your domain name that match what the end user will be typing. Those keywords might be ‘rentals’, ‘property management’, ‘tenants’, or similar names. Since all of the great names are taken and cost tens of thousands of dollars (or more), many companies are using an ‘i’ (for Internet) in front of the name, similar to the iPhone, iPad, iHome, and other products.

The Tenant File owns over 300 domain names relating to property management software for that very reason. However, we have collected some great domains that don’t relate to ‘software’ but are fantastic for property managers. Here are some:

iTenantManager.com
iRentalManager.com
iPropertyManagers.com
iManageTenants.com
TenantManagement.info
TenantManagement.biz
RentalManagement.info
CommercialManagement.info
RentHomes.us

Just give us a call at 1-800-398-3904 if you are interested in purchasing any of these domains. They won’t be very expensive except for RentHomes.us, which is a very valuable domain name. Thanks!

 

Introducing our new site Real Estate Available (http://www.RealEstateAvailable.com)

The Tenant File is proud to announce our new sister site: Real Estate Available (http://www.RealEstateAvailable.com). This new site is to help prospective buyers find their dream home anywhere in the United States. Through a partnership with Zillow, the worlds leading home search engine, we have created a site to quickly produce the most up to the minute homes for sale which are available right now.

And we have not forgotten our substantial Tenant File customer base. Every Tenant File customer will be given a free listing under their state on the Real Estate Available site. While this will be a paid listing for others, our customers will get a free listing simply by ‘liking’ the Tenant File on Facebook. We will set up each Tenant File company with their name in bold, the company logo, a short description, the website URL and their email address. This listing is for a full year!

We appreciate our customers and hope that you will share in our enthusiasm for this new site for home search.  At the Tenant File we are looking forward to sharing our success with you.

 

One week special ONLY! Through August 31st

Every once and a while we have a crazy idea and here is my latest. And all you have to do is ‘like’ us on Facebook!

Until August 31, if you ‘like’ us on ‘Facebook’ (bottom of the Tenant File home page), we’ll give you a free setup and TWO free months of the RentalWIZ service.  With no obligation to continue after the free period.  The RentalWIZ service will consolidate your Tenant File information, such as bedrooms, bathrooms, etc and upload it to the Internet free of charge. Plus, we’ll create your very own web page for your vacancy listings for you to link to from your own website or emails.

Hurry, before I get in trouble with my bosses!

Paul

 

 

 

Tenant File Property Management Software

Welcome to the Tenant File Property Management Software blog! We have created this blog for you – our valuable customers – so that we can hear from you about your wants and needs to improve the Tenant File. Your input is important to help us know what we should be working on to keep the Tenant File as America’s favorite rental property software!

We will also provide tips and tricks for using the Tenant File Property Management Software to the fullest extent. We hope you like this addition – please feel free to post your comments and suggestions for improvement.

Thank you!

Tenant File Webmaster