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Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Keeping Keys and Residents Safe

Cybersecurity Awareness MonthOver the past 18 years, Cybersecurity Awareness Month has served to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity across the Nation. The overarching theme: “Do your part, #BeCyberSmart” encourages individuals and organizations to own their role in protecting their part of cyberspace, stressing personal accountability and the importance of taking proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of recommendations to help you keep your data and online activities safe in an age of ongoing cybersecurity threats.

Secure Your System

Regardless of how your company’s online network is configured, make sure it’s running on a secure system. Use firewalls and encrypting to secure your internet connections and your servers. If you use Wi-Fi, make sure it’s hidden and protected by a strong password — and change the password frequently. Only grant network access to authorized personnel.

Require Strong Passwords for Employee Logins

Employees who log into the system should each have an individual login with a strong password that is difficult to guess. Employees should also be prompted to change passwords regularly.

Remote Access: Use With Caution

If you log into your company’s network offsite using a smartphone or other mobile device, remember that you aren’t necessarily accessing the system using a secure server. Don’t log in using public WiFi, for example — or if you do, log in using a virtual private network (VPN) to hide from hackers.

Perform Frequent Viruses, Spyware and Malware Scans

You should have a strong antivirus, anti-spyware program in place to guard your system, and make sure it receives the latest updates to make sure newer viruses can be detected and eradicated from the system.

Run Updates on All Software

It’s a pain to keep up with software updates, but when developers send these to you, they’re usually dealing with newly discovered cybersecurity threats. Always keep operating systems and other software up to date.

Back Up Your System

You should be running full backups regularly of your entire system, from shared drives to individual computers. That way, if a hacker crashes your system, you won’t lose data and you can restore at least most of your functionality.

Use Multi-Step Logins Whenever Possible

You don’t want to spend all day logging in, but in truth, the more steps to the login process, the safer it is. With HandyTrac key control, for example, our systems are designed for employees accessing key boxes to take several steps to verify their identity. Some units even include biometric (fingerprint) identification which provides excellent security against intruders and hackers.

To learn more about our secure key control systems, contact HandyTrac today!

Trade Show Schedule 2021-22

Although 2021 has been a fantastic year, we expect 2022 to be even better! Jam packed with exciting events and releases, here’s a look at our trade show schedule 2021-22.

trade showsTrade shows and events

With an exciting line-up of trade shows and events, we plan to attend as many events as possible.

TAA One Trade Show

AAGO Trade Show

BAAA Trade Show

NMHC Trade Show

AMA Reverse Trade Show

IAA Reverse

NAA Apartmentalize

AAA Trade Show

AMA Trade Show

HAA Trade Show

SAAA Trade Show

WMFHA Trade Show

Spectrum

AAGD/AATC Business Exchange

IAA Trade Show

FAA Trade Show

AAA Trade Show

Updates and releases

We can’t say too much yet, but we have some exciting new releases and updates to share in the new year. In the meantime, take a look at our Standard Touch key control system. The Standard Touch brings streamlined touch integration and improved security to our most popular and most affordable system.

Stay tuned for more!

Keeping your Key Control System and Office Germ-Free

office cleaning tipsViruses and other harmful germs can remain infectious for long periods of time, especially on hard surfaces such as stainless steel and plastic. Without frequent and thorough cleanings, an office can quickly become a hotbed of infection putting both your staff and residents at risk. With this in mind, here are a few tips for keeping your key control system and office areas sanitized and germ-free.

Key control system cleaning tips

Used to store physical keys and other vital community information, key control systems serve as an integral resource for community staff. And along with frequent interaction comes the need to sanitize often.

The datalog

The main point of contact on a HandyTrac key control system is the system datalog, used to operate the system. Using a microfiber cloth and solution of mild dish detergent and water, wipe down the touch screen, numeric keypad and biometric reader (if applicable).

The key box

For the rest of the system, almost any type of disinfectant will do.

One thing to note: all cleaners that claim to kill germs require EPA registration. As such, you should keep an eye out for cleaners that are approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ensure proper sanitation.

Sanitize before and after use

Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer nearby as an added defense against harmful viruses and germs.

Office cleaning tips

When cleaning office areas, be sure to…

  • Wear disposable gloves, a gown and a face mask
  • Clean surfaces using soap and water, then follow up with an EPA-approved disinfectant
  • Frequently clean high touch surfaces including tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc.

For more office cleaning tips and considerations, check out the CDC’s Facility Cleaning and Disinfecting guide.

To learn more about HandyTrac key control systems, contact us today.

HandyTrac Key Control Interfaces with Popular Property Management Software

resmanHandyTrac Systems, a leading electronic key control company, is pleased to announce a strategic partnership with property management software companies, ResMan and Yardi to provide seamless work order delivery for multifamily, student and military housing customers nationwide.

“Over the past 20 years, we’ve discovered that multifamily property managers are inheriting a variety of roles to satisfy the ever-growing list of community needs,” notes Larry Kratz, President of HandyTrac. With this in mind, we’ve teamed up with ResMan to simplify key activity management through consolidated processes, and simplified access procedures.”

Upon request, ResMan and Yardi users with a HandyTrac Premium Touch system now have the ability to customize their experience through the use of a unique and secure work order system. Features like service order and staff data importation will allow managers to quickly and easily monitor key activity and work orders through their ResMan dashboard.

“We believe that when provided with the right tools, property managers can do it all. By leveraging this partnership, property managers will benefit from efficiency improvements, and ultimately, get the most out of their management products.”


About ResMan:

ResMan provides innovative technology solutions to the property management industry by making property investments and operations more profitable and easier to manage. For more information, visit myresman.com.

About HandyTrac:

HandyTrac likes to consider itself the low-cost leader in multifamily and military housing key control; managing keys for more than 5 million apartment homes throughout the country. We offer three unique cloud-based systems that provide instant access to archived reporting and provide the ability to manage your communities with a single login through your computer or smartphone. For more information, contact us today.

Cost Justified: Savings Pay for Key Control System in 6 months

Properties these days are understaffed, making time saving systems and tools more important than ever. HandyTrac key control systems can save maintenance staff significant time each day locating, pulling and returning keys, and keys-out reporting.

Time and motion studies prove that you can recover your entire key control investment in just 6 months!

time saving key control systems

How often?

How often does an employee walk to the other end of the community only to find they pulled the wrong key? How much time does that waste? How much does that cost?

How long?

How long does an expensive outside contractor that is “on the clock” stand around and wait while you try to locate misplaced keys?

How much?

How much does it cost you to re-key a unit because the key has been misplaced?

Why HandyTrac?

HandyTrac protects over 5 million units across 800+ companies nationwide and offers an ironclad warranty on every system.

Additional features include:

  • Remote access: Keep tabs on your keys from any internet-enabled device.
  • Detailed real time reporting: Always know where your keys are and why.
  • Audit trail: Reports are backed up to Amazon Web Services.
  • Bilingual: English and Spanish options available.
  • Touch screen: Stunning 7″ touch screen integrated to streamline workflow.
  • and much more.

To learn more about our time saving key control systems, contact us today.

Service Update: COVID-19

In this time of uncertainty, you can rely on us to keep your property secure. Our specialists are ready to provide assistance, and HandyTrac Online will continue to allow you to track your keys virtually anytime, anywhere. In addition to following all official government guidance, we are also:

– Restricting company travel to essential business activities

– Reducing face-to-face meetings in favor of virtual meetings

– Enabling telecommuting when possible

– Encouraging our employees to exercise caution and take all appropriate health and safety measures

– Enhancing cleaning procedures in our facilities

For questions or technical support, give us a call at 800-665-9994 or email us at service@handytrac.com. Rest assured that your keys are safe with us.

For the latest updates on the coronavirus, visit the CDC’s COVID-19 resource center.

Five Frequently Overlooked Security Measures

security measuresSecurity is one aspect of property management that often leaves something to be desired. Many organizations think they have their bases covered, yet there are a variety of factors that are often overlooked, and these factors can have lasting impacts if exploited.

With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of five frequently overlooked security measures. Here we will examine the risks and offer some advice on how to address said measures.

1. Physical security

The use of traditional lock systems can be a great way to secure your units, buildings, and equipment; but what happens if the key goes missing?

To prevent physical keys from falling into the wrong hands, the use of an electronic key control system like HandyTrac is highly recommended. In addition to safe storage, electronic key control systems offer a variety of features designed to prevent key loss and theft including real time reporting, multi-factor authentication, key anonymization, randomized rotation, and audit trail maintenance.

2. Handling and disposal of paper records

Documents containing sensitive information are often disposed of improperly or left lying around in the office. Although these documents and bits of information may seem insignificant to some, they have the potential to hurt the company if discovered by a skilled criminal.

To ensure that all sensitive documentation is properly handled and disposed of, consider implementing a company-wide policy. Doing so helps to provide a standard for employees and promotes a culture of accountability. A great place to start is a company-wide shredding policy.

3. Network security

Much like your buildings, your network has various access points that must be protected. Effective network security targets a variety of threats and prevents them from accessing sensitive information. To determine the state of your network, consider conducting a network audit. An audit can help to uncover vulnerabilities within your network and improve overall security.

4. Breach Planning

Data breaches can hurt your brand, customer confidence and reputation, so it’s important to establish a breach response plan ahead of time to minimize the damage. To be effective, a data breach response plan should include the following:

– A definition of a breach
– A list of response team members
– The action steps for handling the breach
– A follow-up procedure

Once your plan is in place, educate your employees and test it often to ensure its effectiveness. A little bit of preparation can go a long way!

5. Security education for employees

People have quickly become the largest security vulnerability in any organization. Employees are frequently targeted  by hackers through various phishing attempts, and with over 90% of cybersecurity issues originating from human error within an organization, an investment in security education is worthwhile. Not sure where to begin? Here are some training best practices to get you started.

Using Computerized Key Control to Prevent Mail Theft

mail-theftTasked with the handling and delivery of nearly 188 million pieces of mail each day, postal workers have become prime targets for criminals seeking bank statements, social security numbers and other personal information. Mail theft and subsequently identity theft are increasing at an alarming rate, and property managers can never be too careful.

Recently, a disturbing video was taken inside a Chicago apartment community showing an unnerving trend: thieves with a key. In the video, two men are seen using their own key to not only gain access to numerous apartment buildings, but also the mailbox units inside.

“That feels like such a violation,” said Kathleen, a Chicago resident. “It could lead to identity theft. It could lead to checks being stolen. So I think it’s really disturbing that someone has the key to get into my mailbox.”

This, unfortunately, isn’t just a one-off either. Key thieves have struck multiple parts of the city in recent months with no signs of slowing. Authorities also report an increase in the number of postal carriers “confronted with force” to hand over their key on their routes.

In addition to posing a direct threat to postal employees, mail theft results in stolen personal information which can wreak havoc on the lives of those affected. And if a key is stolen, the solution isn’t as simple as making a new key. That process, referred to as ‘re-keying,’ requires considerable time and money.

Using Computerized Key Control to Prevent Mail Theft

Using a computerized key control system, property managers and postal employees can instantly reveal who checked out a specific key using a secure audit trail. Additionally, users can implement multi-factor authentication procedures, requiring users to offer information such as a pin code (something you know), access cards (something you have) or biometric fingerprint readers (something you are) before gaining access to the system.

Taking property security one step further, computerized key control systems from HandyTrac anonymize property keys and utilize a state of the art bar-coded system. This system prevents users from memorizing where specific keys are hung using random rotation: an automated process that hangs keys in random locations in the box.

With two secure key management systems to choose from, HandyTrac is an affordable and sensible solution for any community or facility.

For more information about our computerized key control systems, contact us today.


References:

Para, Marissa. 2019. Postal Workers Worried About Safety As Mail Thefts Are On The Rise. CBS News Chicago. Retrieved from https://chicago.cbslocal.com/2019/12/31/postal-workers-worried-about-safety-as-mail-thefts-are-on-the-rise/

Case in Point: Smart Key Management Matters

When property management companies operate without a smart key management system in place, they invite unnecessary liability onto the property; putting residents, staff and the company at risk.

Last October, authorities in St. Francis, Wisconsin responded to a multifamily community main office break-in that resulted in the disappearance of 11 separate unit keys. Two residents later reported items missing from their apartments but their doors had been locked.

smart key managementWithout a smart key management system, lost or stolen keys are untraceable. As a result, no suspects or clues were identified in this case, leaving the property management company with eleven compromised locks needing replacement, premises security liability, potential damage compensation charges, and a community full of concerned residents.

With a smart key management system by HandyTrac, property managers can rest easy knowing that community keys are in good hands. Keys are housed within a 18-gauge steel cabinet, anonymized to prevent quick identification and secured using multi-factor authentication procedures. Additionally, our systems offer real-time reporting capabilities, allowing property managers to keep tabs on community keys from any internet-enabled device.

Since the management oversees keys to all units, protecting and monitoring the use of those keys is one of the most important parts of keeping residents safe — and also one of the aspects most likely to be targeted for negligence. Not only do the keys need to be kept secure, but their use needs to be tracked. You need an audit trail — you need to be able to document and trace who had use of the keys, when they obtained them and when they were returned.

To learn more about our smart key management systems, contact us today.

Holiday security tips to share with your multifamily residents

The most wonderful time of the year for many — including criminals — is upon us. Ensure that your multifamily community and its residents are prepared for the holiday season by sharing these holiday security tips in your next community newsletter.

holiday security tipsSecure the perimeter

Make sure all of your doors and windows are locked prior to leaving your home. Most break-ins are done without force. Simply making sure all of your entry ways are locked can be a big deterrent.

Review community guest policies

With the influx of foot traffic during the holiday season, it’s important to remind residents that they are responsible for the conduct and safety of their guests. It’s also important to share rules for guests and overnight visitors, holiday parking changes, or any other restricted activities. Some important things to clarify:

– What CDC restrictions/guidelines are currently in place?

– Are guests able to stay overnight?

– How long are guests allowed to stay before it becomes a violation of the lease agreement?

– Where are guests allowed to park?

– Do guests need permits to park on-site or nearby?

A few gentle reminders can go a long way towards preventing unnecessary security risks.


If you are leaving town…

Put a hold on mail

Put your mail delivery on hold until you return. Putting a hold on your mail and the newspaper will keep them from piling up and letting people know you are not home.

Install timers

Put certain lights within your home on timers. This will give the appearance that your home is occupied, reducing the likelihood of a break-in.

Wait to share

Refrain from posting about your holiday on social media until you return home. While it is exciting to let all of your friends and followers know where you are going, this also means that onlookers can see that you will be leaving your home unattended.

With these simple holiday security tips in mind, HandyTrac would like to wish everyone a safe and relaxing holiday season!


Resources:

The Moran Group. 2018. 10 Holiday Tips for Property Managers and Tenants. Retrieved from femoran.com