No one is immune to cyber attacks, hackers, viruses and phishing scams, including non-profit associations. Both your organization’s money and its reputation may be at stake.
At Welter Consulting, we want your organization to be safe from such cyber attacks. We offer consulting services to make technology planning easy. Contact us online or call us at (206) 605-3113 to learn more.
Boards Must Lead the Charge Against Attacks
Boards cannot afford to be complacent about cybersecurity. Many nonprofits are too small to have a dedicated IT staff or resources. In those cases, it falls upon the Board as the leadership team of the organization to develop policies and processes to guard against cyber attacks.
How Breaches Occur
Nonprofits may find themselves in the thick of a cyber attack through completely innocent circumstances. An employee may accidentally download an infected file. Someone may be searching for information and stumble across an infected site, leaving a virus in their browser.
These are common ways in which nonprofits become infected with malware. Recently there has been an increase in the number of extortion-related viruses. Such viruses lock users out of their computers until money is paid to someone who supposedly holds the virtual key to unlock the computer. Criminals do not care whether you run a charity for orphans or a financial firm; they take the money and continue their extortion schemes.
Other types of cybercrime include data theft. A data breach in which your donors’ or members’ personal data including names, addresses, social security numbers or credit card numbers are stolen can result in negative publicity for nonprofits and the threat of potential lawsuits. These crimes often aren’t noticed until long after they occur, giving nonprofit leaders a false sense of security. In truth, anyone can be the subject of such an attack.
Taking Steps to Prevent Attacks
Nonprofit board members can take several positive steps to ward off the threat of cyber attacks. While you may not be able to prevent them all, you can ward off many.
Steps you can take include:
- Encourage management to adopt policies that prevent cyber intrusion. This may include frequent software updates, limits on web browsing, and training to raise awareness.
- Add cyber insurance to your organization’s coverage to minimize the financial ramifications of cleaning up after a breach.
- Build a proactive response plan, imagining worst-case scenarios and including steps to take should they occur.
- Take an inventory of your current cyber security measures to disclose gaps.
- Close any identified gaps or hire a consultant to do so for you.
- Evaluate security risks among vendors and suppliers.
- Find out where the most valuable information is stored – and treat it as you would money in a safe. Take extra precautions to make sure it is secure.
- Discourage risky cyber practices, such as downloading documents from unknown sites or clicking links requesting that users reset their passwords.
Above all, make cybersecurity a top priority for your company. When boards do so, they send a powerful signal that it is an important topic worthy of employees’ time and effort to address it.
Cybersecurity is like the doors and locks on your home. You invest in strong doors, locks, and alarm systems to prevent burglars from stealing your television and computer. By making sure your cybersecurity efforts are up to par, you’ll prevent virtual burglars from walking off with important assets. You’ll add a layer of safety to your nonprofit that provides better peace of mind.
Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.