The multifamily building owner’s guide to cybersecurity protections.

By Julia Troy
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While some employees have returned to the office, it’s clear that the work-from-home trend is here to stay. Many companies have implemented 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 who are eager to get a hold of sensitive company information.

Work-from-home employees are at a much higher risk of exposure to cybercriminals than those in the office. Home networks are often less secure than in-office networks. There are also fewer safeguards against threats such as phishing and ransomware for remote workers. Additionally, 91 percent of consumers polled in a 2021 Sophos Home survey said they were concerned about online security threats affecting their household. They were particularly concerned about 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. Schiel is the 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 about 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 people are connecting more devices than ever to their networks. An estimated 13.8 billion Internet of Things devices are currently online. 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. This puts 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 if property owners want to help ensure that 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 that 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. Lumen 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. Ideally, they won’t depend on smaller providers or internet installers that may not have property 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. The goal is 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. They will be able to instantly scan messages, files, and apps and block 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.

Far-reaching connectivity

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 believes 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. This network keeps them isolated from other residents while staying connected throughout their community.

Stay educated

Finally, Schiel said, one of the best ways for building owners, staff, and residents to stay safe from cyberattacks is to stay educated. It’s important to know what to look out for and how technology can help. 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 blog.

Quantum Fiber® Connected Communities provides customized fiber solutions for apartments and communities.

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This article was originally posted on on January 11, 2022, and was produced in collaboration between the Bisnow Branded Content Studio and Quantum Fiber.

Content Disclaimer - All content is for informational purposes only, may require user’s additional research, and is provided “as is” without any warranty, condition of any kind (express or implied), or guarantee of outcome or results. Use of this content is at user’s own risk. All third-party company and product or service names referenced in this article are for identification purposes only and do not imply endorsement or affiliation with Quantum Fiber. If Quantum Fiber products and offerings are referenced in the content, they are accurate as of the date of issue. Quantum Fiber services are not available everywhere. Quantum Fiber service usually means 100% fiber-optic network to your location but, in limited circumstances, Quantum Fiber may need to deploy alternative technologies coupled with a non-fiber connection from a certain point (usually the curb) to your location in order to provide the advertised download speeds. ©2023 Q Fiber, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Quantum, Quantum Fiber and Quantum Fiber Internet are trademarks of Quantum Wireless LLC and used under license to Q Fiber, LLC.

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