Tag Archives: property management software

We Warned You That Your Online Data Wasn’t Safe

Have YOU been affected by the Heartbleed bug? Yes, either directly or indirectly! We’ve been warning for quite some time now that your online data IS NOT safe! Now comes the Heartbleed bug…My passwords have been compromised???

My passwords have been compromised???

This is a major problem that affects nearly everyone. For the past two years the SSL (secure website data transfer method) has had a bug. A bug that allows your user name, password, YOUR sensitive data, your CLIENTS sensitive data to be stolen.

This is on top of the recent breeches from Target and too many other websites to keep up with. What are they saying you should do? Change your passwords – ALL of them, starting with your online financial websites. The future is here and the prospect is alarming. You are a property manager in charge of the private financial data, social security numbers, contact information, and passwords for your clients. You are facing a lot of problems if that information gets out. Not to mention that you are out of business if your server goes down. The Tenant File doesn’t have those issues – it is a desktop application, and your data in always on your own computer. Don’t roll the dice!


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?

New directions in SEO for Property Mgmt Websites

We’d like to provide some more insight into your SEO needs for your website. At the Tenant File Property Management Software, we realize how busy you are collecting rent, maintaining your rentals, and providing information for your owners. However, you just cannot ignore the importance of keeping your website visible through SEO. But SEO has changed, and you need to be aware of that.

In the ‘old days’ , a large part of SEO meant optimizing your website through keywords place on your site, paying someone to create links to the site, and submitting articles to directories or article sites with links to your home page. If you are still focusing on those techniques, you are probably hurting your Google rankings. Through the Panda and later Penguin algorithm changes, Google has increasingly focused on ‘quality’ and how you are providing a service to the visitors to your site. So ‘selling’ a service has taken a back seat to ‘providing’ a service, and the difference is not as subtle as you may think.  Here are some examples:

  • Google does really care much anymore about the number of links you have coming to your site. It cares about the ‘quality’ of those links. Are you involved in your community? If so, get links from local newspaper websites. Do you have links on real estate sites such as industry associations or property management groups? And don’t direct all of those links to your home page. You need to have other webpages (or landing pages)  focused on the topic that is pointing to it from other pages.
  • In the past you could write an article about your business, fill it with your keywords and publish it to article sites. Now, you must provide content that is good enough for others to want to share it. So your content must not be full of keywords, but should look ‘natural’ and be of value to the reader. They should want to share it via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and other social sites. Google is looking at the number of shares as a part of their evaluation of your importance, or authority, as they call it.

If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. If some is searching for your services, the experts at Google and Bing want to rank those sites that are providing real answers in their field of expertise, not just a company that has hired an SEO company to write content that is just a bunch of words with keywords added. That approach will only serve to make the Internet a more robust provider of real value, and not just reward the business with the more money for SEO. You know your business better than anyone, so take more of a personal involvement in the content you create, interact with industry groups, and write about your involvement in your local community.