Protecting your organization fromย data breachesย is a crucial undertaking for today’s nonprofits, especially as the capture of constituent information makes nonprofits a key target for cybercriminals. When a data breach occurs, there is always an impact on the organization that could range from lost sales opportunities to negative PR in the marketplace. Nonprofits have additional concerns: if their databases are compromised, they risk losing the support of the constituents that they serve. This can have a ripple effect felt throughout the communities with a potential reduction in giving, making it challenging for the nonprofit to fulfill its mission. While data security may not seem like a priority for funding, it’s crucial that nonprofits consider ways to tighten security measures with training andย proactive monitoring of data and business systems.

Is Your Nonprofit at Risk forย Data Breaches?

Many nonprofitsย engage in operationsย which can make them a more attractive target to hackers such as accepting donations online, maintaining a database of donor information or storing event registrations. Any storage of personally identifiable information (PII) can make your nonprofit extremely attractive to cybercriminals who sell this information to the highest bidder. What’s frightening is that you might have excellent data storage facilities and software, but could still experience a breach through the actions or inattention of staff members who click on an infected email or share their password with others. Training, monitoring and reporting all need to be in place to help protect your nonprofit from the negative effects ofย data breaches.

Protecting Your Nonprofit fromย Data Breaches

There are layers of implications when your organization experiences a data breach. From assessing the extent of the damage to ensuring that your operations are able to continue, there are many moving parts to plan and execute before your IT team is able to return to normal daily activities. This is especially difficult if you do not have the support of a proactive IT managed services partner. Here are a few of the ways you can protect your nonprofit fromย data breaches.

  • Consolidate data. If you are storing constituent information in several different databases, that multiplies the potential for a catastrophic data breach. Not only will the consolidation of your donor and supplier information help reduce redundancies, but this practice also makes it easier to retain security.
  • Review access levels. The role of various staff members can change over time as people join new teams or leave the organization. Scheduling a regular review of access levels to your sensitive constituent data provides an added level of security that you are minimizing the chance of a breach.
  • Schedule regular training. Experts estimate that upwards ofย 75% of breachesย start inside the organization from a variety of causes including poor password maintenance, software patches that weren’t applied in a timely manner and leaving devices unlocked in an area that is not secure. Theseย data breachesย are largely preventable with proactive support and ongoing training.
  • Assess infrastructure security. Everything from the WiFi endpoints to mobile devices that are connecting to your network are suspects when it comes to preventingย data breaches. It may be worth working with an external IT partner to bring best practices to your organization in terms of infrastructure security and training.
  • Update backup and disaster recovery procedures. Does your nonprofit have a clearly documented and understood process for backup and data recovery? Regularly looking at this information over will help ensure that operational changes are taken into account. Without a robust backup and disaster recovery procedure in place, a data breach could have a devastating impact on the ability of your organization to function.
  • Review compliance requirements. Part of maintaining data and systems security is ensuring that your organization is complying with all state, federal and global privacy and compliance requirements. This can change depending on the focus of your nonprofit, but there are new data standards coming in the form of theย California Consumer Privacy Actย (CCPA) andย General Data Protection Regulationย (GDPR) in Europe.

Cybersecurity is an increasing concern for organizations of all sizes and types, but nonprofits may be particularly vulnerable due to their unique staffing situations and budgetary constraints. Protecting the security of these constituents means these organizations may need to invest in expertise to update their IT infrastructure and security training. Are you ready to optimize operational efficiency and information security? Contact the professionals atย CIO Adviseย today toย schedule your no-obligation consultation.