Top Cybersecurity Risks for Nonprofits

Does your cybersecurity policy need a checkup? The right digital security can help nonprofits avoid top cybersecurity risks that can compromise sensitive data.

Cybersecurity for Nonprofits

Nonprofit organizations often collect sensitive data — including health information protected under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, Social Security numbers and billing information — and become the targets of cybercriminals. What are some common cybersecurity risks for nonprofit organizations, and what steps can you take to protect highly sensitive information?

Top Cybersecurity Risks and Attack Methods

What’s the biggest benefit of technology for nonprofits? If you run a charitable organization, you know that technology allows you to collect donations much more easily than in the past. However, that convenience and ease of use come with a formidable downside: an ever-present risk of cyberattacks that can compromise your data and systems.

Cybercriminals use several different methods for attacking nonprofits. Here are three of the top cybersecurity risks nonprofit organizations face:

  • Dishonest volunteers. The vast majority of your volunteers assist your organization out of kindness and a desire to give back to their local community. Be aware, though, that some may attempt to slip through your vetting process to get inside access to your sensitive data.
  • Frequent email communications. Your employees and volunteers likely use email constantly throughout the day to stay in touch with clients, donors and other nonprofit organizations. With the high volume of email your organization processes, the risk of a mistake — such as clicking a link that installs malware or downloading an infected file — significantly increases.
  • E-commerce transactions. Online payments — for donations, event registrations and even merchandise sales — have made operations easier for nonprofit organizations. However, without the right security, allowing e-commerce transactions on your website also can leave you open to meddling by cybercriminals.

Security lapses in any of these areas can increase the likelihood of compromised data and negative impacts for your donors and other individuals your organization serves.

Does Your Cybersecurity Policy Need a Checkup?

Early hacking attacks primarily targeted large companies. Today, however, cybercriminals have discovered that nonprofit organizations often house valuable data, including Social Security numbers and health information. One recent scam used email to gain access to nonprofit employees’ W-2 information, and ransomware attacks have hit several small nonprofits in the past few years.

To protect your organization and its clients and donors, you need a sound cybersecurity policy that covers all aspects of your digital operations. A comprehensive risk assessment should be the first step, whether you have a policy in place or need to create one. Where are the vulnerabilities in your organization?

Many cyberattacks occur via email, and securing email communications should play a key role in your efforts. A secure network and server can help ensure that sensitive messages remain private. In addition, make sure your website — and especially any e-commerce functionality — uses encryption and the best possible security software. Protecting the personal and financial information of your clients and donors should be among the top digital priorities for your organization.

To avoid the risks posed by volunteers with malicious intent, review your vetting and onboarding processes. Consider making criminal background checks mandatory for all workers — either paid or volunteer — who join your organization. In addition, implement training to provide workers with the tools to spot and avoid cybercrime and potential breaches of your systems.

Veltec Networks: #1 Rated Cybersecurity Team For Nonprofit Organizations

With the right security, your nonprofit can gain significant protection against cyberattacks. For more information about HIPAA IT Consulting or to sign up for a year of free technical support for nonprofit organizations, please contact San Jose IT company Veltec Networks at (408) 809-0774 or email us at info@veltecnetworks.com.

Duleep Pillai | Published on October 22, 2019

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