Self-storage facilities can face any number of threats, but one that sometimes gets overlooked is cyberattack, which is on a steep rise. A data breach can be devastating to your internal processes, costly to fix and extremely damaging to your business reputation. Don’t become a victim! Instead, follow these strategies to shore up your defenses.

Daniel Haurey Jr., President

April 2, 2024

5 Min Read

Your self-storage operation is committed to safeguarding customers' belongings. You’re well-versed in what’s required to secure these physical assets, including a strong security system, employee vigilance and positive relationships with law enforcement. But is your organization savvy about protecting its digital property?

Cyberattacks are on the rise, and criminals are becoming more aggressive. To counteract them, you need cybersecurity. This is a broad term for tools and strategies that protect internet-technology (IT) networks, technical devices and digital data from unauthorized access or criminal use. Typically, IT service providers weave a complex web of solutions to create “cyber resiliency.” By integrating the right technology, they lessen the possibility of a successful cyberattack and minimize the damage if one occurs.

If you consider how much valuable yet sensitive information you have in your self-storage operation’s digital network—customer names and contact information, credit card numbers, maybe Social Security numbers—it’s clear why cybercrime is a burgeoning, profitable global enterprise. Personally identifiable information, payment and banking details, and intellectual property are incredibly valuable on the Dark Web. Your company is responsible for keeping it secure.

Statistics show that small to mid-sized companies are prime targets for cybercriminals, often called “bad actors.” In fact, most studies indicate that nearly half of the cyberattacks in the United States target smaller organizations. That puts tremendous strain on businesses that don’t have IT specialists on staff and can’t afford sophisticated solutions. Thankfully, there are simple steps you can take to keep your data safe.

Evolving Cyber Threats

While physical threats against self-storage facilities can be addressed during construction and then later through technology and operational procedures, cybersecurity requires agility and focus. The cyber-threat landscape evolves constantly, with hackers and other bad actors creating sophisticated attacks at a surprisingly quick pace. That means you must be vigilant and stay informed about the latest risks, adjusting policies and solutions accordingly.

Social-engineered attacks, often called “phishing,” continue to lead the pack as the primary cause of data breaches. They may come through email, text or even a phone call. Constantly educating your self-storage employees and keeping simple security steps top-of-mind is key when it comes to battling this threat.

Eighty-one percent of all businesses report that they’ve experienced a malware attack, according to a study by telecommunications company Verizon. These often slipped into the network through an endpoint or compromised application. One of the biggest challenges is hackers gain access to your network and then lurk there for weeks, taking all the time they need to steal sensitive information and sell it.

Protecting Your Digital Assets

Safeguarding your self-storage business, data, and employees from cybercrime starts with some simple tools and strategies. First, make sure your company is using:

  • Firewalls to monitor traffic into and out of your internet network to prevent bad actors from accessing it

  • Filtering and email security to scan and stop spam

  • Endpoint protection to secure devices and limit network access

  • Antivirus software to detect, quarantine and remove malware

Once you have the right digital defenses in place, the following operational tactics will add more layers of critical protection against cyberattacks:

  • Establish clear policies. These should address areas where security gaps can occur within your digital access control. For example, spell out acceptable uses of company devices including computers, phones and tablets.

  • Use multi-factor authentication. This validates user identities by requiring a secondary confirmation, such as a text to a mobile phone or a code from an app like Microsoft Authenticator. Layer it over every access and login point to address common vulnerabilities.

  • Enforce password hygiene. Create a clear, highly enforced policy for password creation, updates and storage.

  • Replace obsolete technology. Legacy hardware and software can provide easy access to your network since it’s likely unsupported by the vendor.

  • Patch your network promptly. Applying security patches is a straightforward way to close security gaps.

  • Do penetration testing. Thinking like a hacker is one way to protect your network. Many IT providers offer “ethical hacking,” a process for scanning your network for vulnerabilities through fake phishing attacks and password tests.

  • Develop an incident-response plan. Being prepared will help you minimize the damage of a cyberattack and facilitate a swift recovery. Include communication plans for your customers and employees.

  • Purchase cyber insurance. This coverage can offset the financial and legal impact of a security breach.

  • Hire a cybersecurity partner. Managed services providers not only address the fundamentals, they often have additional expertise with compliance, such as regulations for payment processing.

The Importance of Training

Your best line of defense against cyber attacks is sitting right inside your self-storage facility: your team! By educating employees about common vulnerabilities and the right steps to take when faced with a threat, you’ll improve your cybersecurity posture tremendously.

Security-awareness training is usually outsourced, and there are many vendors qualified to reorient employee thinking about email, passwords and access points. If you outsource your IT tasks, your partner might be able to provide or recommend a program. Additionally, your cybersecurity company might offer some simple, DIY training, though it may not always cover the very latest threats.

Most cybersecurity training programs are priced per employee and include an annual contract. Expect to pay about $10 to $40 per person for a reputable and thorough product.

Because of the evolution of cybercrime and the creative, persistent nature of bad actors, security-awareness training is never really complete. As you aim to improve security at your self-storage facility, remember to focus first on prevention. However, don’t overlook having a comprehensive plan for backing up and recovering essential business data in case of a breach.

It’s Up to You

As a self-storage operator, you have a responsibility to protect your company’s sensitive business information, including all tenant and employee data. Failing to invest as much effort into securing your digital assets as you have in protecting your physical environment and customer valuables can land you in legal trouble, including violation of federal mandates about payment information and privacy. After all of the hard work you’ve invested into your business, it would be a tragedy to let a cyberattack thwart your success. Instead, impede those bad actors by putting proper cybersecurity in place.

Daniel Haurey Jr. is president of Exigent Technologies, which he founded in 1997 to provide managed information-technology consulting and services to small and mid-sized businesses in New Jersey and New York. His commitment to client success and passion for excellence inspires the company’s white-glove customer service and high-performance culture, both of which focus on leading customers toward the innovative technology they need for success. To reach him, call 888.779.1956.

About the Author(s)

Daniel Haurey Jr.

President, Exigent Technologies

Daniel Haurey Jr. is president of Exigent Technologies, which he founded in 1997 to provide managed IT consulting and services to small and mid-sized businesses in New Jersey and New York. His commitment to client success and passion for excellence inspires Exigent’s white-glove customer service and high-performance culture, both of which focus on leading customers toward the innovative technology they need for success. To reach him, call 888.779.1956.

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