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Why Nonprofits Should Prioritize Cybersecurity

Recent statistics indicate a significant rise in hacking and data breaches over the past year. Most of these attacks are directed at workplace devices, making cybercrime an everyday concern for businesses. 

Cybercriminals will find a way to invade networks and steal sensitive data regardless of the industry a business finds itself in. Not-for-profit organizations have not been spared. 

Heading into 2021, the cybersecurity of not-for-profit organizations is an increasingly ubiquitous concern. Traditionally, nonprofit organizations have faced unique cybersecurity risks, largely due to the fact that they tend to have limited defense mechanisms in place compared to for-profit organizations. 

In this article, we’ll be looking at why nonprofits need to make security a priority, and how you can increase security for your nonprofit. 

Cybersecurity Risks Faced by Nonprofits

In today’s digital world, nonprofits create large volumes of data. Cybercriminals are always looking for a chance to get their hands on this data. Threat actors are trolling to take advantage of lapses in security. 

With most nonprofits implementing work-from-home arrangements due to COVID-19, cybercriminals are now targeting employee devices. Data breaches can occur when staffers connect to public Wi-Fi networks or open phishing emails.

Public Wi-Fi networks are not the only security threat not-for-profit organizations are dealing with. The loss of personal devices is also an issue. The vast majority of nonprofits use cloud solutions for their IT needs. Employees can access these solutions using their applications on personal devices, but mobile devices often get lost or stolen, which can easily lead to a nonprofit’s data and passwords being compromised. 

Another major cybersecurity threat facing nonprofits is forced downtime. Attackers may target nonprofits to bring down their system with the goal of compromising their mission. 

Forced downtime is often a result of Denial-of-service (DoS)/Distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) or malware attacks. Some types of malware can infect your network and shut down essential systems. 

Any type of downtime can get in the way of critical work done by nonprofit organizations. 

Five Ways to Stay Protected

Historically speaking, nonprofit organizations often lack a budget to put towards protecting their data from external threats. This unfortunate reality makes nonprofits the proverbial low-hanging fruit—an easy target for threat actors. Increasing cybersecurity should be a priority for all nonprofit organizations. 

In this section, we provide five cybersecurity tips to protect nonprofits from cyberattacks and data breaches. 

Upgrade Hardware and Computers

Older equipment is more susceptible to cybersecurity threats. Invest in a new computer system to improve security in your nonprofit organization. 

It’s an expensive step, and the company may not be willing to spend all that money on new equipment. Let them know that the security of their sponsors and donor data is at risk and upgrading hardware and computers can improve security. 

Upgrade Security Software

As stated earlier in the article, nonprofit organizations tend to have inferior defense mechanisms due to budget constraints. Well, your budget will get even tighter if there’s a cybersecurity breach and donors feel that their data is not secure. Get security software from a reliable provider and keep it updated to protect this information from cybercriminals. 

Protect Your Network 

Wi-Fi attacks have become increasingly popular as more organizations implement remote working due to COVID-19. Encourage your employees to protect their connection when working remotely by using a VPN. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is online security software that hides your IP address and encrypts your internet traffic. Using a VPN router at home and office ensures that your internet traffic is protected at all times. 

Use Strong Passwords

Some organizations use simple passwords because they are easier to remember. Keep in mind that simple passwords are also easy to crack. Increase the difficulty of your passwords and change them regularly. A strong password is made up of a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. 

Train Your Employees

The vast majority of nonprofit organizations lack cybersecurity training programs for their employees. Poor computer hygiene and negligence are the leading causes of cyberattacks. Training employees on best practices and online hygiene reduces the risk of cyberattacks such as phishing and spear-phishing. 

Nonprofit organizations provide assistance to the most vulnerable members of society. Their mission is critical. Unfortunately, cybercriminals don’t care, and nonprofits are not exempt from attacks. Take the steps above to protect your nonprofit from cyber threats and keep doing the good work.