What Do Nonprofits Need to Know About Cybersecurity?

What Do Nonprofits Need to Know About Cybersecurity?

From relying on backing up your data to keeping yourself and your staff trained, here are seven answers to the question, "What are some important things that nonprofits need to know about cybersecurity?"

  • Keep Several Backups, Just in Case
  • Go With the Cloud
  • Do Not Assume You Are Not a Target
  • Develop a Solid Plan
  • Acquire the Proper Resources
  • Invest in Proactive Cybersecurity Measures
  • Ensure Your Security is Up to Date

Keep Several Backups, Just in Case

In this day and age, one cannot be too careful with crucial company data. In fact, cybersecurity is so important nowadays that having several backups of the most crucial data is not only anything new, but it's actually a customary precaution that every business needs, including nonprofits. Keeping one backup stored in the cloud while keeping another one on an external drive is highly recommended.

Natalia BrzezinskaNatalia Brzezinska
Marketing and Outreach Manager, ePassportPhoto

Go With the Cloud

Tight budgets understandably hamper nonprofits. This leads to questions of software optimization that are similarly hampered by tight budgets.

As someone who sells software development, I know it isn’t cheap. Continuous maintenance is a real and tough cost. When a cloud-based SaaS provider offers a reasonable or even high monthly cost, it's worth considering. They'll handle security. They'll handle maintenance. It's their reputation on the line if something goes wrong.

Trevor EwenTrevor Ewen
COO, QBench

Do Not Assume You Are Not a Target

Many nonprofit organizations assume they won't be targeted. Surely the lucrative, cash-rich "for-profit" organizations are a better target, right? Well, not necessarily.

Aside from the obvious ability to pay, the criminals also look at the ease of getting in and the likelihood of paying. Surprisingly, nonprofits may be more likely to pay. Often, the choice is between very large economic damage to the organization and a smaller but very unpleasant payment to the criminals.

If it is a privately owned company, the owners may choose to bite the bullet, refuse to pay out of principle and deal with the large operational or even financial fallout. But what if the resources of the organization are not really yours, but they belong to a community?

The damage is to the social output that is the purpose of the nonprofit. It is therefore much harder to bite the bullet and take the damage. The criminals know this and will cynically target you because of, instead of your noble cause.

Dag FlachetDag Flachet
Co-founder and Professor, Codific

Develop a Solid Plan

Nonprofits are just as vulnerable to cyber attacks as for-profit organizations, if not more so. Nonprofits often handle sensitive data such as donor information, financial records, and personal information of their clients or beneficiaries, which makes them attractive targets for cybercriminals.

It is critical to develop a cybersecurity plan, train employees about potential threats, use secure technology, monitor for threats, and seek expert advice.

Nicole CorderNicole Corder
Co-founder and Executive Director, Neurodiversity Works

Acquire the Proper Resources

Cybercriminals are increasingly targeting nonprofits, taking advantage of the fact that these organizations often lack the resources and expertise to protect themselves effectively. Nonprofits should prioritize cybersecurity measures such as creating strong passwords, training staff in cyber safety, and regularly monitoring for threats.

Additionally, they should ensure that all data is securely stored and accessible only to those authorized to access it.

Amy LeeAmy Lee
Medical Advisor, Nucific

Invest in Proactive Cybersecurity Measures

Nonprofits can be prime targets for hackers because of their often limited resources and potentially sensitive data. Cybersecurity is essential for nonprofits as they work to enhance their reputation, foster trust with donors, and safeguard the privacy of the people they serve, particularly during periods of growth and efforts to strengthen trustworthiness.

Key takeaway: Nonprofits must prioritize cybersecurity and invest in proactive measures to safeguard their organization's data, digital assets, and the people they serve. This includes educating staff about cyber threats, implementing strong password policies, keeping software up-to-date, and using secure communication channels. By taking these steps, nonprofits can significantly reduce the risk of data breaches and maintain the trust of their donors and community.

Sharda KumariSharda Kumari
Staff Systems Engineer, Architect, Airbnb, Inc.

Ensure Your Security is Up to Date

As with any industry, identifying a single thing to know is challenging, and recurrent patterns persist despite the sector. Regardless of the business type (for-profit or non-profit), cybercriminals and script kiddies continue to leverage exploitable passwords, inadequate implementation of MFA, phishing, and similar methods to breach organizations.

To safeguard a non-profit organization, it is imperative to ensure all staff members utilize a password manager, possess an endpoint security system, and receive regular training to discern and appropriately respond to phishing emails. The notion of nonprofits and charities being exempt from security threats has become outdated. As more nonprofits conduct operations online, they have become increasingly vulnerable targets for attackers.

Manraaj MandManraaj Mand
Managing Director, Mand Consulting Group

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