Nonprofit Cyber Security Risks: Common Attack Methods

January 3, 2018

Nonprofits do some of the noblest work for the at-risk communities in the world. Between financially supporting children and families going through the worst times in their lives, to providing education funding for students who might not otherwise have opportunity, charitable organizations change the world one person at a time. Unfortunately, the perceived abundant coffers of these organizations and the innate risks involved with daily business can put nonprofits at risk for a cyber attack.


Avoidable Nonprofit Cyber Security Risks


There are several ways that nonprofits are prime targets for cyber attacks. Here are three of the most common risks associated with the business of charity:


Cyber Attacks on Ecommerce Transactions

While technology has made it much easier for nonprofits and charitable organizations to accept donations online, it has also made it that much simpler for a digital pickpocket to steal from the organization. While payment is easy for the customer, having an unsecured website could mean leaving an open avenue for cyber attack.



Email Communications Cyber Security Risks

Communicating with donors, partner organizations, and clients is a simple process today. Automated emails and newsletters keep interested parties aware of what’s going on in the organization. But as you’re responding to emails, you could be putting the organization at risk. Clicking a bad link, downloading a seemingly safe Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file, or even just opening a PDF file could put your hard-won funds at risk.


Cyber Security Risks of Volunteers

Volunteers share their time for many reasons, from being a surviving family member, to wanting to give back to the local community. And while many volunteers have good intentions, there are a few that may just volunteer their time to gain access to your data stores. Training time is short, onboarding an on-the-job process, and the bad guys can sometimes slip through the cracks, leaving your organization at risk for cyber attack.


Preventing Nonprofit Cyber Security Attacks


While nonprofit cyber security risks cannot be avoided altogether, many cyber attacks can be prevented. Here are three of the best ways you can lower the risk of a nonprofit cyber security attack:


Lock Down the Digital Donation System

Using encryption and a secure website helps protect information during online financial transactions. Whether accepting donations or accepting a payment through an online store, protecting customer and company data should be a top concern for nonprofit cyber security.


Secure Your Email Communications

Using a secure server and network for collecting, sorting, and transmitting important donor information can help you keep your email communications secure. Email addresses, physical addresses, and other personal identification information can be used in a nonprofit cyber attack.


Get a Criminal Background Check

Starting the onboarding process with a criminal background check is one of the best ways to ensure your volunteers are simply there for good will. In addition to making sure you have the right people, be sure to train employees on cyber security at the beginning of their safety training to make sure there isn’t an accidental cyber breach.



Info courtesy of Policy Wire


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