Condo management has changed dramatically over the course of the past few years. Expectations for integrated technological solutions have become the norm from residents and board members alike. No longer is it acceptable to wait on faxes or couriers when requesting meeting minutes, bylaw details, or any other sort of condo-related documentation. If your building doesn’t have an online HOA portal complete with a dedicated library of information related to your condo community, you’re behind the times.
That said, all this technological advancement hasn’t come without its own unique set of growing pains. With the advent of online condo communities comes the need for online security. It goes without saying that confidential information needs to be safeguarded behind top-notch cyber security programs and protocols – but there’s more to it than that. Online security is as much about practice and policy as it is about computers and codes. It’s this human element that we’re looking to discuss today.
Know Your Rights (to Privacy)
Just because you’ve got passwords and access to information does not necessarily mean you’re free to hand that info out to whomever you want. When it comes to online security of information, there’s a big difference between “Can I share this?” and “Should I share this?” In order to tell the two apart, it’s critical for anybody in any sort of position of authority over condo owners’ private information to make themselves familiar with two very important governing sets of legislation: FOIP and PIPA.
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection Act work to form the foundation of information security here in Alberta. These operate in tandem to ensure that individuals’ private information is gathered according to a strict set of rules and regulations, and then handled with the care and attention that such sensitive information is due. If you’re a sitting board member within your condo community, the very nature of your role means that you deal with private and sensitive information on a regular basis. We recommend you take the time to get to know these two pieces of legislation – both to better safeguard your fellow community members’ information, and to hold yourself accountable to the standards set forth by provincial law.
Building the (Meeting) Mystery
In day-to-day condo community dealings – whether you’re a board member or part of a condo management company – you’re granted unique access to the details of people’s lives. Most of it, of course, is quite mundane, but some of the information that is dealt with on this level could genuinely impact the safety or security of a community member, should that data ever find its way out into the general public.
For this reason, it’s important to be incredibly diligent whenever dealing with personal information or details regarding an individual or condo community member. Again, FOIP and PIPA are the guiding standards here in Alberta and should be referred to whenever disclosing any sort of contact details or personal information related to a condo owner within your building or complex.
In addition to individual owner contact information, a big area of concern when it comes to online condo community security presents itself in the form of meeting minutes. Before posting online to the greater condo community (and, by extension, the internet at large), it’s of crucial importance to take the time to go through the meeting minutes and redact any and all personal information as it was discussed – including unit details, owner information, and any other bits of distinguishable/identifiable information. Be sure to have an individual review and scrub all meeting minutes before they go live – a practice that is the industry standard, but in reality, is less common than you might think.
Keeping Things Locked-down Online
In addition to these policy and procedure considerations, it’s important to have good online practices in place, as well. Keep any and all condo-related information on North American servers where there are clear and strong laws related to how and by whom this information can be accessed. Ensure that each authorized member has a unique login, and require them to update their credentials at least annually, if not quarterly. That way, you can see who’s accessed what sorts of information with a quick and simple user access audit. Finally, if you’re using cloud-based storage, be sure that there are multiple redundancies in place so that you are always able to access your condo community’s information, even if you should lose access through one means or another. The last thing you want is for all that data to be stranded up there in the cloud without any way to retrieve it!
The future of online condo community management is bright, and the road forward is paved with technological advancements and cyber wizardry. However, like all tools, these leading-edge innovations require sound judgement and a steady hand for best results.
Want to learn more about what you can do to safeguard your online condo community? Drop us a line at Condominium Management today, and we’ll be glad to share what we know when it comes condominium cyber security and safeguarding your condo community’s info online.