2021 Cybersecurity Guide for Nonprofit Organizations

2021 Cybersecurity Guide for Nonprofit Organizations

With the new normal ushered in by the coronavirus pandemic, cybersecurity will be of more significant concern in 2021 and afterward than in 2020. Nearly everyone is at home, working from home or otherwise, and internet usage just hit unprecedented levels.

Therefore, the web is currently chaotic and cyber attacks are more common. Governments, financial institutions, hospitals, and individuals are all at risk. Nonprofit organizations, too, are significant targets.

While the problem is pretty global, the issue is even a bigger nightmare here, even after the Michigan Cyber Initiative launched about a decade ago.

This guide aims to help you understand what cybersecurity for nonprofits entails. It also provides ways to implement the network security of your organization effectively.

Why Should Cyber Security Be a Concern for Corporates and Nonprofit Organizations?

Two things are worth noting when it comes to cybersecurity for nonprofits. Firstly, the global trend indicates that cybersecurity is on the rise and does not touch on nonprofits alone. Secondly, most nonprofit organizations do not have advanced network security protocols.
These statistics will probably open your eyes to the looming menace!

1. Hackers Make About 2,224 Attack Attempts Every Day.

Cybercriminals attempt to gain access to databases of governments, businesses, and nonprofits every 39 seconds. The attacks aim to steal data, transfer funds, compromise the entities, or breach networks. This makes the crime closer to you than never before.

2. In Michigan Alone, There Were 88,774 Blocked Intrusion Attempts in 2010.

Cybercrimes are not new. Independent reports indicate that in 2010 alone, there were 88,774 blocked web intrusion attempts in Michigan alone. Of course, hundreds of thousands of others didn’t land in the eyes of the track nets and were, therefore, successful. There are strong beliefs that the 2010 figure is now five times higher.

3. Many Nonprofits Have No Baseline Approach to Cybercrime.

It is worrying that many nonprofits do not have any cybersecurity measures in place. Interestingly, cybercriminals know this fact and capitalizing on it to attack such organizations. Studies indicate that up to 70% of charity networks do not have a comprehensive vulnerability assessment to determine their potential risks.

4. There Are More Than 300 billion Passwords Currently in Use.

Hackers often prey on insecure passwords. And while not all the over 300 billion passwords currently in use are insecure, passwords are usually easier to compromise. The fact that there are about 86% weak passwords across various entities makes the situation worse.

5. About 56% Of Nonprofit Organizations Do Not Use Multi-Factor Authorization.

Finally, it is unfortunate that most nonprofits don’t utilize the trusted two or more steps account verification method when signing in to their accounts. According to an NTEN report, MFA remarkably increases the security of your account.

What Are the Cyber Security Risks That Nonprofits Should Aim to Prevent?

For charity entities that collect and store data from donors, partners, and beneficiaries, the outcome of an attack can be costly. Often, these outcomes present themselves in the following forms.

  • Data Breach: A data breach is often the most likely consequence of poor cybersecurity. It happens when identification details, personal or proprietary, leak out without any authorization. It could be as a result of malicious activity from an insider, negligence, or external attackers. The infamous Marriott data breach remains one of the most significant attacks that saw a leakage of more than 339 million records.
  • Ransomware: Like in kidnappings, some attackers hold your system or data until you make payment. Interestingly, while your organization won’t have access to the system when this happens, the hackers always have a key that brings it back to normal. The whole thing is stressful and costly. Thus, it would help to avoid them by investing in ransomware protection and recovery systems.
  • Forced Downtime: If you have ideological opponents, then there are chances that some of them will send malware to bring down your system and compromise your overall mission and objectives. The key to avoiding such situations is to keep your systems up to date and prevent negligence.

What Are the Top 5 Cybercrime Delivery Methods?

Note that your systems can sustain attacks through any of the following ways;

  • Denial of Sevice – This affects the response of your systems since they aim to overwhelm most systems.
  • Malware Attack – These are pretty common and involve the unauthorized installation of software into your systems. The software will either harm your machines, those of site visitors, or both.
  • Drive-by Attack –  It involves the unlawful insertion of a script into web pages. The malware in the scripts will affect the devices of your visitors.
  • Spear Phishing – Such attacks use trusted sources to obtain personal information from your systems. E-mail phishing remains the most common practice.
  • SQL Injection – Finally, SQL injection types of attacks try to gain access to your servers and will often access your data should they succeed.

Is It Possible to Prepare for Cyber Attacks?

Interestingly, while charity organizations are at risk of cyberattacks, particularly after the Covid19 pandemic, the good news is that there are ways to prepare your systems for such scenarios.

The steps include;

  • Documenting Your Protocols: While most charity organizations do not have laid down policies on cybersecurity, documenting these policies remain the first and most vital step to your preparedness. A detailed approach helps to minimize your digital footprint and, in turn, lessens the chances of an attack. A good cybersecurity policy should include a buy-in clause, acceptable use, essential data management practices, the right account, and identity practices.
  • Staff Training: Training your staff helps to minimize poor online hygiene and negligence. Unfortunately, about 60% of nonprofits do not provide cybersecurity training to their team. The training should involve the creation of strong and unique passwords to prevent identity theft. But since most companies and nonprofits do not have the capacity for such activity, we often recommend outsourcing.
  • Create Redundancies and Backups: The possibility of recovering your data and systems lies in creating various levels of redundancies and backups. You need to create multiple levels of data and systems. This reduces damage when an attack occurs, as you can easily retrieve data once a single instance is compromised. You can achieve these by automating backups, choosing scalable options, considering multi-site redundancies, and ensuring that all backups are accessible.
  • Harden Your Systems: While consistently updating your OS comes first in running safe databases and sites, hardening your systems using a VPN, antivirus, and firewall is equally crucial. It helps to make you’d systems resistant to attacks. You need a security assessment to identify vulnerable points and act on them appropriately.
  • Get Help: Reading this article to this point is an acknowledgment that your systems could be at risk. And with the projected increase in cybercrime post Covid19, you must put this information into action.

Sometimes even an in-house IT expert won’t cover all the loose ends. Thus, you may need to rely on a seasoned IT firm for advanced cybersecurity protection. You can give us a call at tca Synetech for any inquiries.