Cybersecurity tips: how multifamily owners can protect communities – Part 2

by | Jan 14, 2022

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In Part 1, John Schiel, Principal Information Security Engineer for Cyber Defense with Lumen Technologies, gave us an overview of threats, risks, and some misconceptions property owners have about cybersecurity for multifamily properties. In this installment, we look at the importance of choosing an internet provider who prioritizes cybersecurity. If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, find it here.

Fast, secure internet service is a non-negotiable amenity for today’s multifamily communities and their residents. But property owners must understand that looking for a “quick fix” isn’t the answer. Only searching for a fast internet provider or service installer might mean sacrificing vital cybersecurity safeguards their multifamily properties need. Let’s consider some key factors to look for when selecting a broadband provider that prioritizes online security measures.

Bring in experts who offer layers of protection

“Building owners should try to find an internet provider who offers built-in network protections that can keep their system updated and secure,” according to Schiel. Quantum Fiber, a Lumen Technologies brand, is a prime example, he says. As an established fiber internet provider to multifamily communities, Quantum Fiber offers layers of cybersecurity protections on their owned and managed fiber infrastructure. This gives owners and multifamily residents more than just an on-ramp to the internet. “We’ve got the experience and expertise to protect the building owner, their staff, residents, and their business partners on several levels. We have multiple layers of preventative protection at the network, equipment, and human level.”

The network layer

While not all internet providers offer built-in network protections, Schiel says finding one that does is a significant imperative. Having a network-wide system that can automatically run updates and keep on-property networks secure is critical. “Our Lumen and Quantum Fiber preventative security layers protect all internet users on our fiber network,” according to Schiel. “The network itself acts as an active defense platform and gives us global visibility into real-time threats.” Quantum Fiber can deliver this type of protection. Its parent company, Lumen Technologies, owns and operates one of the largest, most connected global fiber networks. “Working with us,” Schiel says, “you get a fully managed, dedicated private broadband service–a single company that provides end-to-end technology solutions. We can monitor and sniff out threats across our network. And block malicious traffic before it reaches your employees, residents, and their devices.”

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The installed equipment layer

Unfortunately, effective cybersecurity for multifamily communities must go further than a networking-only approach. It is essential to have controls where the equipment meets the network.

Schiel says gateways and modems must provide robust protections right down to the individual unit level. “Our modems include a cloud-based system that uses machine learning to scan messages, files, and apps instantly. And then block or quarantine malicious content.” According to Schiel, this sort of protection 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.

Having this capability at the equipment level can also curb unauthorized traffic on smart home and Internet of Things (IoT) devices ranging from cameras to thermostats and more. “With our service and protected modems,” Schiel continues, “we can also provide device protection for any guests’ or visitors’ devices that join a Quantum Fiber home WiFi network.”

The WiFi layer

Reliance on WiFi networks by both residents and the business side of a modern residential community is more significant than ever. Often overlooked as a security gap, they can be popular with hackers since WiFi attacks are usually inexpensive and easy to pull off.

As more multifamily properties (especially new developments) gravitate toward property-wide WiFi, Schiel emphasizes the importance of finding an internet provider that can deliver both property-wide connectivity and security.

“With Quantum Fiber, our Instant WiFi solution is tailored to give both residents and guests property-wide WiFi coverage by using the same fiber optic lightwave circuit that hospitals, government installations, and 911 services use,” says Schiel. “Residents register for an account on a secure portal, and the system ensures they choose a unique, customized WiFi password for an added layer of security. Then, they get their own personal area network (PAN) that keeps them isolated from staff and neighbors.” Essentially, all residents have a dedicated public IP address, so their WiFi service works similarly to an in-home WiFi connection. The difference is that they can stay connected if they leave their unit and head for common areas like the lobby, workout room, or perhaps poolside.

Having a PAN also streamlines a tenant’s ability to remote into their computer or network and gives them gaming port forwarding ability.

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The human layer

While high-quality internet service is a must-have amenity for residents and property owners or HOAs, many still don’t prioritize online safety.

“Cybersecurity is important to some residents. But not all recognize the importance of making sure they implement effective security controls,” Lumen’s John Schiel explains. “People still use common passwords.” With residents connecting more wireless devices, “they want to know they have protection from other residents, bots, or any bad actors anywhere in the world.”

As Schiel sees it, building better human security controls begins with an internet provider dedicated to providing human-based support and service. “In our case,” he says, “we’re able to provide industry-leading support to our building owners, staff, and residents. With experienced, always-ready support, we can help keep their building networks secure and keep property managers and residents better informed about how to protect their privacy and detect threats.”

He says an internet service like Quantum Fiber is comfortable providing this sort of guidance. “What should you do if a warning pops up on a website you or a family member is about to access? Or how can you use digital parental controls to monitor content or block suspicious devices?” Schiel again cites Quantum Fiber as an example of best practices. “We offer all these important tips and educational resources in our Quantum Fiber Explore blog where residents and property staff can stay informed and updated about the latest threats, including phishing and bad actor scams.”

Last words

With cybersecurity, there are two important truths. Cybercriminals thrive on uncertainty, and they are always one step ahead. Taking a proactive, serious stance on cybersecurity lets owners and residents remove much of that uncertainty. By working with an internet service like Quantum Fiber, your multifamily property can enjoy robust, layered protections that safeguard your residents, your reputation, and your revenue.

Quantum Fiber(SM) Connected Communities provides customized fiber solutions for apartments and communities.

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