Posted by Jim Locker on January 18, 2001 at 15:51:29:
I mean both. When all this data is collected in one place and collated it becomes valuable. Also, as you go, you will accumulate information that normally would not be found in the public record, such as a tenant’s address and landlord history, linked with their SSAN.
This is the true value of the service; by coming to you people can obtain information that they can’t get themselves from public records. I have a database of everyone we have ever screened, cross referenced with clients, other landlords, and addresses. It is a very common occurrence for a client to send us an application for someone we have screened two or three times before. We can immediately compare what they say now with what they said then. We wind up knowing a lot, and it is stuff that we wouldn’t want circulating casually.
We also maintain a blacklist that landlords can place tenants in. This way, we pick up those people who rip up a place and move in the middle of the night. This information has to be treated as rumors, and we guard it carefully. When we tell a client that an applicant is in our blacklist, we tell them that Joe Landlord says this about this tenant. If you need more information, here’s Joe’s phone number.
We also run across landlords that lie to us. We almost invariably catch them when they do, and into the database they go. If you are our client, we’ll tell you that Jane PropManager gave this tenant a great reference. However, we have caught Jane PropManager lying to us before, and you should take this into consideration when considering the reference.
Of course, physical protection of the data is an obvious thing. You should take steps to protect against theft by the burglar who comes when you are home, and theft by the employee who is ambitious and wants to set up a service to compete with you.
You musnt’ leave out the possibility that your business will burn down one night, putting you out of business unless you have offsite backups.
And the most common occurrence is corruption due to crashes, or failed drives, or whatever. Routine backup procedures protect you here, along with the use of good quality commercial grade hard drives.
My critical systems run Windows NT configured to be a high security environment. Critical data is kept in encrypted files. We open the files at the beginning of the day and close them at night.
On our network, I am the only administrator - and my password is kept in a safety deposit box accessible to me and my wife (so if I die or become incapacitated, she can carry on). Only administrators can use the removable media drives on the network. Users are locked out of the floppies, the Zip drives, and the CD/RW drives. So that ambitious employee cannot steal the data by copying it onto a floppy or zip and walking off. Also, the employees don’t know the passphrases to open the encrypted files, so even stealing the server at night wouldn’t help.
All communications to/from the server are logged, so if an employee should download the data to another computer during the day, then steal the machine at night, there will be a solid record of the fact. Since we maintain password protocols on the network (secure passwords, no writing them down, etc) I will always know WHO DID IT.
Setting up the security is a bit of a pain, but once it is up it is no trouble at all. And I sleep better knowing that we are a “hard nut” to crack.