Consulting with a Conscience™

A cruciallogics blog

Written by Amol Joshi
on November 07, 2022

As a nonprofit organization, you are tasked with safeguarding sensitive donor and client information and maintaining the privacy of your employees, volunteers, and board members.

You are also responsible for protecting your organization's systems and data from cyberattacks. With so much on the line, you need a robust security solution.

Here are some ways to help secure your nonprofit's information.

Protect your property with a security system tailored to you

The first step in securing your nonprofit's information is to build a comprehensive security solution that covers all of your bases.

By assuming a holistic path to security, you can be sure that your organization is better protected against all potential threats.

1. Establish a Baseline of Security Requirements 

The first step in building a security solution is establishing a security requirements baseline. This will help you understand what type of data you need to protect and what level of protection is required.

To do this, you will need to understand the types of threats and how they could impact your organization. You can learn more about these threats by reading our blog post on common cybersecurity threats nonprofits face. 

2. Select the Right Tools for Your Organization 

Once you have established your baseline security requirements, you can start selecting the right tools for your organization. Many types of security tools are available, so choosing the ones best conform to your needs is necessary.

Some tools you may want to consider include firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and encryption software. 

3. Implement Your Security Solution 

After you have selected the right tools for your organization, you will need to implement them properly. This process will vary depending on the type of tools you have chosen. 

However, you can follow some general steps, such as creating a plan, testing your system, and training employees on how to use the system properly. 


Know Where and How Your Staff, Volunteers, and Board Members Are Accessing Your Data

It's important to learn where your data is stored and how it is being accessed.

This means keeping track of who has access to your organization's systems and how they access the data. Are they using their devices? Are they accessing the data from public Wi-Fi hotspots? Are volunteers downloading it onto their laptops?

Knowing where and how your data is accessed will help identify potential security risks. Be sure to have policies and procedures that dictate how data can be accessed and used to protect it from being compromised.

Adopt an "Assume Breach" Approach to Your Security

The recent rash of data breaches, hacks, and ransomware attacks has made it painfully clear that no organization is immune to cybersecurity threats, no matter how big or small. 

This is especially true for nonprofits, which are often targeted by cybercriminals due to their lack of resources and expertise. 

Unfortunately, many nonprofits still operate under the mistaken belief that they don't need to worry about cybersecurity because they don't have anything worth stealing. This couldn't be further from the truth. 

In reality, nonprofits have much to lose if their systems are breached - including donor information, financial data, and confidential client information. 

That's why it's so critical for nonprofits to embrace an "assume breach" approach to their security. This means assuming that your systems have already been breached and taking steps to mitigate the damage. 

Taking this proactive approach can help protect your nonprofit from the devastating consequences of a cyberattack. 

But unfortunately, no security and data governance solution is perfect.

Understand the Consequences of a Data Breach 

The first step in adopting an "assume breach" approach to your security is understanding the consequences of a data breach. A data breach can have devastating implications for a nonprofit, including reputation damage, loss of donor confidence, regulatory fines, and legal liabilities. 

Identify Your Most Sensitive Data 

The second step is identifying your most sensitive data. This includes any data that hackers could use to harm your organization or its clients if it falls into the wrong hands. This could include financial data, donor information, confidential client information, employee records, etc. 

Implement Strong Cybersecurity Measures 

The third and final step is implementing strong cybersecurity measures to protect your sensitive data. This includes investing in robust anti-virus software, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems, encrypting all sensitive data, implementing strict access controls; and providing comprehensive security training for all employees. 

Taking an "assume breach" approach to your security can help protect your nonprofit from the devastating consequences of a cyberattack.

Start by understanding the consequences of a data breach, identifying your most sensitive data, and implementing strong cybersecurity measures. 

With these steps in place, you'll be well on your way to protecting your nonprofit from even the most sophisticated cyber threats.

Securely Move Your Organization to the Cloud

The cloud has become an increasingly popular option for nonprofits due to its many advantages in terms of cost, flexibility, and scalability.

However, security is often a significant concern when moving to the cloud. 

Data security is critical for any organization, but it is crucial for nonprofits that often handle sensitive information about their donors and clients. When moving to the cloud, there are a few key things you can do to help protect your data: 

Select a reputable and certified provider: When choosing a cloud service provider, selecting a reputed and accredited provider with experience working with nonprofits is important. Make sure to research and check out reviews before choosing a provider.

Encrypt your data: One way to help protect your data in the cloud is by encrypting it. This means that even if an individual were to gain access to your data, they would not be able to read it without the proper decryption key. 

Use two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide two fragments of information to log in - something they know (like a password) and something they have (like a code generated by a mobile phone).This method makes it more difficult for unauthorized users to access your account. Tools like LastPass or Authy can help you easily add 2FA to your accounts. 
Set up activity monitoring: It is also important to set up activity monitoring to keep a record of who is accessing your data and when. This way, if there are any suspicious activities, you can identify them and take action quickly. 

Keep an Eye on Shadow IT

With the advancement of technology comes the rise of opportunities for malicious actors to exploit vulnerabilities in systems.

As our lives progress increasingly online, it is more important than ever for organizations to ensure their security posture is up to scratch. 

Unfortunately, not all organizations are as careful as they should be. In particular, nonprofits are often the target of cyber-attacks due to their lack of resources and limited knowledge of cybersecurity.

What is Shadow IT?

Shadow IT refers to any application or system that is not within the direct control of an organization's IT department. It can include anything from productivity tools like Dropbox to cloud-based accounting software.

While Shadow IT can have benefits, such as increased productivity and efficiency, it also comes with various risks. One of the biggest dangers of Shadow IT is that it can introduce vulnerabilities into an organization's system that would not otherwise be there. 

For example, if an employee downloads a productivity tool from the internet without vetting it first, there is a risk that the tool could contain malware or other malicious code. 

Another danger of Shadow IT is that it can bypass compliance and security controls that an organization has put in place. This can lead to data breaches and other serious consequences.

For example, suppose an employee uses an unauthorized cloud-based storage service to store sensitive data, such as customer credit card numbers. In that case, this data will not be protected by the organization's security measures. 

This could lead to a severe data breach if the service is hacked or if the employee's account is compromised. 

Finally, Shadow IT can erode an organization's control over its information and systems. This can cause problems down the line if changes need to be made or if there are compatibility issues between different parts of the system. 

For example, if an employee installs a new application that is not compatible with the rest of the system, this could cause significant problems and may even require expensive repairs or replacements. 

How to Protect Your Nonprofit Organization From Shadow IT 

Nonprofit organizations can take a few steps to protect themselves from Shadow IT.

The first step is to increase awareness amongst employees about the risks associated with using unauthorized applications and services. 

Employees should be aware that the IT department must approve any application or service before they can use it within the organization. They should also be given guidance on spotting potential risks, such as phishing emails and malicious websites. 

The second phase is to establish a formal process for approving applications and services for use within the organization. This process should be designed so that only applications and services that the IT department has vetted can be used within the organization. 

It should also be apparent to employees that any application or service they use must go through this approval process before they can use it within the organization. 

Finally, the company should provide training for employees on how to spot potential risks and how to use approved applications and services safely. This training should cover topics such as phishing emails, social engineering attacks, and password hygiene principles.

By increasing awareness amongst employees and providing them with formal training on how to stay safe online, nonprofit organizations can help protect themselves against Shadow IT risks. 

Balance the Need to Protect Your Information with the Need for Your Employees to Be Productive

As a chief technology officer or business owner, you are responsible for protecting your company's information and system security. 

However, you also need to strike a balance between protecting your information and allowing your employees to be productive. Here are some tips on how to achieve this balance.

Finding the right balance between information security and employee productivity can be tricky—but it's essential to keep your organization running smoothly. For example, if you put too many restrictions on employee access to data, they may become frustrated and look for workarounds that could put your data at risk.

On the other hand, if you're too lax with your security measures, you could end up jeopardizing sensitive information. The key is to negate these two factors to protect your data without hindering employee productivity. 

1. Educate Your Employees on Information and System Security

One of the best ways to protect your company's information and system security is to educate your employees on these topics. Make sure that your employees understand the importance of keeping confidential information safe and secure. You should also provide them with guidance on how to do this. For example, you could create a set of security protocols that all employees must follow.

2. Provide Employee Training on Information and System Security Procedures

In addition to educating your employees on information and system security, you should also provide them with training on these topics. This will ensure they know how to follow your company's security procedures properly. It is important to ensure that this training is up-to-date so your employees can effectively protect your company's information.

3. Use Technology to Help Protect Your Company's Information and System Security

There are a variety of technology solutions that you can use to help protect your company's information and system security. For example, you could install a firewall or use encryption software. Alternatively, you could use biometric authentication systems such as fingerprint scanners or iris scanners. These solutions will help to prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing your company's information and systems.

Final Thoughts

Nonprofit organizations are critical to our society and must protect their information and system security as much as possible. However, they also need to balance this with the need for their employees to be productive.

By following the tips above, you can help to strike this equilibrium and keep your organization running smoothly. 

Do you need help with your cybersecurity problems? Let us know today and we can help you.

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