Some of the most vital services provided in any country are offered by nonprofits. Yet, many of these nonprofits require a committed team of free volunteers, resources, and an endless supply of funding to fill the needs of their community. Unfortunately, many are strapped for team members and financial resources. As a result, cyber criminals view nonprofits as sitting ducks and easy targets for accessing a treasure trove of data files such as donor and volunteer data. nonprofits might not have large bank accounts, but in this day and age, data is currency.
In addition, many nonprofits think they aren’t large enough to attract the wily nature of cyber criminals. They couldn’t be more wrong as nonprofits are easy hanging fruit with their limited IT staff and resources. Moreover, much of the IT systems are handled by non-technical staff and human error is rampant.
Cyber criminals may target a network for fun, for practice, and/or to retrieve valuable donor information. In fact, they don’t even have to use sophisticated code as they can use social engineering in the form of phishing messages to trick volunteers into sharing confidential information. If a volunteer is tasked with responding to emails, and they’re not getting paid, are they really going to be vigilant with what types of emails, links, and attachments they open?
However, a strategic cyber attack or data breach could cause irreparable damage to a nonprofit and cause indirect harm to the community it was designed to serve. Indeed, nonprofits can benefit greatly and better serve their communities when they partner with a vendor who offers cutting-edge non profit cyber security services.
Common cyber crimes perpetrated against nonprofits
The most common type of cyber crime is certainly financial fraud. Whether it’s via malware, ransomware, or social engineering, the right tactic can reap an abundance of financial rewards for the dedicated cyber criminal. Moreover, social engineering is a low-tech method and inexpensive. Non-technical nonprofit volunteers can be the easiest targets, especially after a fundraiser. It’s unfortunate that social engineering tactics are so effective. The most effective form of defense is partnering with a non profit managed security services vendor to ensure all fundraising efforts are protected and donor data is secure.
Ransomware also continues to be quite lucrative, and the most committed cyber criminals will stop at nothing to gain access to important data to demand a ransom. The problem is there is no guarantee they will stop spying on your data and penetrating your networks. If they were successful in their initial attempts, why would they impede a golden goose?
In addition, threat actors have started using their data breaches to blackmail their victims by threatening to alert the owners of the data and/or threaten public disclosure if they don’t receive the ransom they demand. These threats can be increasingly overwhelming to nonprofits that are already struggling to keep their lights on and their doors open. The best way to thwart a ransomware attack is to work with a cyber security services vendor highly-trained in cloud-based backup technologies and data encryption.
Cyber criminals are well-versed in using mirrored domains to deploy their attacks. For instance, they can easily create a fake domain that looks exactly like the nonprofit then send a socially engineered email that has the appearance of coming from an actual employee, donor, or supplier. The message is used to manipulate unwitting volunteers into entering their passwords and/or login credentials into a fake website.
So then, it is vital for all volunteers to understand every persistent cyber threat. However, nonprofits often manage a revolving set of volunteers. Few ever stick around very long. As a result, it makes it more costly and time-consuming to train every new volunteer especially if the nonprofit has no idea if the volunteer will be around for the long term. On the other hand, if non profit cyber security services are implemented, then the nonprofit can rest assured all cyber points of entry are secured and every incoming message is filtered thoroughly.
When businesses struggle to implement the right cyber security protocols, then it stands to reason that this is an even greater obstacle for nonprofits. Cyber security tactics and training should be a continuous process and front-of-mind for any organization that manages digital operations. Yet, when the needs of the community are overwhelming, cyber security is often placed on the backburner. Nonetheless, there are thousands of reasons why nonprofits need managed IT and cyber security services.
Nonprofits are often required to ensure compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) if they accept credit card payments and donations. Moreover, financial data must be stored and secured in alignment with regulatory bodies. But, achieving full PCI compliance is difficult for any nonprofit and yet, the penalties can be crippling.
Protect donor data
To avoid fines and bad press, it is critical for nonprofits to protect every component of donor data. As such, good cyber security should be a staple. Donors give willingly. Still, they will be hesitant to open up their pocket books ever again should their personal and financial information be compromised.
Work with a non profit managed security services provider to put donor data safety at the heart of your cyber security strategy. In the end, it’s all about the data. If you can get this aspect right, then it builds the reputation of your nonprofit. Nothing can decimate a nonprofit faster than losing public trust.
Eradicate system downtime
Especially during a pandemic when needs are greater, and digital life is the norm, nonprofits are even more reliant on their digital platforms to generate funding. If this channel were crippled by an attack, then taking the website down could spell the beginning of the end when people are far from eager to attend in-person events.
Also, with rising ransomware attacks, credit card data is as valuable as it gets. Cyber criminals intentionally focus on easy targets and organizations that typically don’t have adequate cyber security resources. A simple search on the latest ransomware attacks will tell you all you need to know about the devastating impact on organizations of all sizes.
If you are unsure of where to start with non profit cyber security services, SSI offers a comprehensive consultation. Learn more about how to avoid compliance fines and how to build donor trust.