4 Practical Ways To Boost Nonprofit Security


If you’re not paranoid, you’re crazy.

The ever present risk of data theft or misuse and the potential harm it could cause to yourself and to your nonprofit is down right scary. And believe it or not, hackers aren’t the stereotypical computer guru, sitting in a dimly lit room looking at a dozen computer monitors, typing furiously to hack into secure databases. Often times, hackers are simply opportunists - average people who happened upon some sensitive information and decide to take advantage of it.Luckily, there are some common sense steps your nonprofit can take to effectively reduce your risk of being targeted, and subsequently taken advantage of by hackers. Check out these four practical ways your nonprofit can instantly boost its security.

1. Passwords matter

Often time, hackers will simply sit and guess passwords until they break into an account they’re attempting to breach. No fancy software. No typing in binary in the command line. Just knowing the username, attempting to glean personal information about the person via their social media, and then guessing passwords until they get it right.

Make sure your passwords mix up the types of characters used, include numbers, letters, and symbols, and don’t use a password you can find in the dictionary.

2. Upgrade computers

Many nonprofits are still running on Windows XP, despite the fact that it’s 12 years old. What those nonprofits might not know is that Microsoft completely stopped supporting Windows XP. That means that computers running XP have outdated security software and are now much more vulnerable to cyber attacks and hackers.

The bottom line is, the older your operating system, your computers, and your network, the more susceptible they are to data breaches.

3. Be aware of the old email threat

Believe it or not, the phishing email can still cause all kind of problems and havoc for nonprofits who mishandle them. Email scams, or phishing, as it’s often referred to, continue to be one of the most effective ways for hackers to install viruses and spy programs that can damage or even hijack your computer. Most of these scams feed off of people’s fear, scaring people into replying, or clicking a link that then asks for money or personal information. These emails often have numerous spelling and grammar mistakes, unfamiliar sender names and addresses, or odd-looking hyper links in the email.

 4. Stop the BYOD madness

Largely seen as a tried and true way to save money, nonprofits who employ the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) trend that swept across the nonprofit sector several years ago are at some of the greatest security risk. Without having any control over the security protocols on the hardware (like requiring a password at launch), an employee who inadvertently leaves their personal computer, filled with your nonprofit’s data, in a train station, airport, or other public place could be sharing all of your nonprofit’s sensitive information with the world.

Photo: nicva.org

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