Testing security layers may also be a good idea to beat hackers at their own game. Markus Hecker, chief operating officer for SMD Software Inc., the manufacturer of SiteLink management software, says "one approach is hiring outside corporations to conduct penetration testing."
In addition to security layers, software can subvert hackers by avoiding certain encryption systems like OpenSSL, the target of the recent Heartbleed vulnerability. Additional software components can be implemented at the facility level. Unique elements, such as fingerprint scanners, can also beef up site security.
"Programs that provide permission management can allow upper management and owners to decide how much of the program will be exposed for an individual or group," says Kevin Kerr, marketing and sales director for Empower Software Technologies Inc., a provider of management software.
Other programs can be considered secure by default using built-in security that can't be turned off. Security features are present for a reason: to provide the highest level of security, not to be downgraded, says Katelyn Wyss, a public-relations specialist for StorageAhead, which recently launched StorEdge, a cloud-based management software program.
"If there are security features a program offers, why would you ever turn them off?" Wyss says. "Because you don't like entering your password eight times a day? You get one data breach and you're the next Target. Your business is done."
Your Data: Gone, but Not Forgotten
No doubt credit card payments made at the counter or over the Internet increase business liability. Again, one of many ways to lesson the risk is to get rid of credit card information by removing all sensitive data from office computers. Storing cardholder information on computers also creates the need to meet the PCI DSS requirements.
"Remove all cardholder data from your computer," advises Ramona Taylor, president of management software company Space Control Systems Inc. "It's based on a simple idea: If it's not there, it can't be stolen."
While modern security practices involve data transfer to off-site experts, the data still belongs to the facility. Reviewing data, such as demographics, payment patterns and occupancy information is vital to business health and growth.
Self-storage owners should remember that though software companies can manage data storage, the data belongs to the business that generates it, says Patrick Lane, marketing director for Syrasoft Self Storage Software. "Data should never be held hostage or be used for leverage."
A worry-free, cyber existence is impossible and criminals aren't going away. But modern software products combined with user sensibilities can minimize chances of crime involving sensitive data.
Kay Miller Temple is a physician and recent graduate from the master's program at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. To reach her, e-mail email@example.com.