The Multifamily Building Owners' Guide To Cybersecurity Protections
While some employees have returned to the office, it’s clear that the work-from-home trend is here to stay, with many companies implementing a hybrid schedule where workers spend some days in the office and some remote. While continued remote work is good news for people hoping to avoid a daily commute, it may also be good news for hackers eager to get hold of sensitive company information.
Work-from-home employees can be at a much higher risk of being exposed to cybercriminals than those in the office since home networks are often less secure. There are also fewer safeguards against threats such as phishing and ransomware for remote workers. Additionally, 91% of consumers polled in a 2021 Sophos Home survey said they were concerned about online security threats affecting their household, particularly viruses and malware, identify theft, financial fraud and ransomware.
“Most people think cybersecurity is someone else’s responsibility to maintain when in reality, we all have a part of maintaining good security posture,” said John Schiel, principal information security engineer for cyber defense with Lumen Technologies and their Quantum Fiber internet service. “This includes users, internet providers, and multifamily building owners, managers and staff.”
Schiel spoke with Bisnow and explained how internet providers, building owners, building staff and residents should keep themselves safe from growing cybersecurity threats in today’s work-from-home world.
More Devices = More Threats
Schiel said that people are connecting more devices than ever to their networks. An estimated 13.8 billion Internet of Things devices are currently online, and by 2025 it’s estimated that number will balloon to nearly 31 billion. Unfortunately, people are not changing their passwords at the same rate they are adding these devices, putting them at an increased risk of a cyberattack.
“Multifamily residents need to know their devices are protected from their neighbors or anyone online,” Schiel said. “Even if they aren’t always taking the most stringent security measures, building owners can make informed and smart choices to safeguard their community.”
Security Should Be Built In
Schiel said that if property owners want to help ensure their residents’ devices are proactively protected, they need to work with an internet provider that offers built-in security as part of its basic features.
“A secure network is designed to seek out and mitigate bad actors as soon as they are found,” Schiel said. “Additionally, the right provider will have multiple layers of security starting on the network, and throughout the equipment installed in homes, as well as educating all users, residents and staff on how to avoid common scams and security breaches.”
Look For The Layers
Schiel said an internet provider should offer several layers of security, not just one. These layers, he said, are the critical cybersecurity element for a Tier 1 provider like Lumen, which operates one of the largest, most connected global networks, with wide-ranging visibility into real-time threats.
A provider's security layers should start with its fiber backbone. In an ideal situation, a company will own hundreds of thousands of miles of its own fiber optic internet and won’t depend on smaller providers or internet installers that may not have proper security layers in place.
"Lumen owns approximately 450,000 route miles of fiber optic internet, which addresses this issue," Schiel said.
The second security layer involves being proactive. An internet provider should have a built-in program that proactively leverages scans for botnets, malicious activity, spam or other threats, Schiel said, to stop bad actors before they can infiltrate users' devices.
The next layer of security revolves around the gateways or modems a provider offers its customers. The right modems will operate on cloud-based systems that use machine learning to instantly scan messages, files and apps, and blocks malicious content on compatible devices. These security features should also protect IoT and smart home devices such as cameras and thermostats. This, Schiel said, is what customers who have the C3510XZ and C4000XG modems, and the 360 WiFi SmartNID 5500 modem can typically get with Quantum Fiber internet and Instant Internet.
An additional service, property-wide WiFi, requires another layer of security that should be of concern to all multifamily building owners. Today's residents don't just limit their internet usage to their apartments. They also frequent a building's gym, office area and even outdoor space. For this reason, Schiel said, it’s vital for owners to work with a provider that offers property-wide WiFi connectivity for residents and guests on a secure private portal. In other words, each user receives a personal area network that keeps them isolated from other residents while they stay connected throughout their community.
“With Quantum Fiber’s Instant WiFi solution, residents have their own dedicated public IP,” Schiel said. “Their service works just like it would with a residential gateway in each unit. The system ensures residents choose unique, customized WiFi passwords that enhance their security.”
Finally, Schiel said, one of the best ways for building owners, staff and residents to stay safe from cyberattacks is to stay educated about what to look out for and how technology can help them. Quantum Fiber has resources and support to inform everyday users about protecting their privacy and deterring threats.
“What do you do if a warning notice appears on a website that you or a family member is about to access?” Schiel said. “Or, how can using digital parental controls help families actively monitor content and unauthorized access by suspicious devices? We have all of these important tips and educational resources in our Quantum Fiber Explore blog.”
This article was produced in collaboration between Quantum Fiber and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.
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