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Prevent Cyber Risks in Your Nonprofit Organization

By Heather Brown
June 03, 2016

Cyber risks are a common topic we hear discussed with the major corporate breaches in the past few years. Often times, small businesses and nonprofit organizations believe they are not subject to the same risks because they are smaller in size. Cyber breaches can happen to any organization and if your nonprofit has a computer, website, or collects confidential and financial information from donors you are at risk for a cyber breach. Since the concept of cyber risks is a hot topic, there is a great deal of knowledge that you can utilize to help protect your nonprofit organization from Cyber risks.

Create Internal Policies and Procedures

Creating a policy or procedure that addresses how to properly handle potential breaches can save your nonprofit a great deal of stress, aggravation and time. Your policy should cover proper use of the internet, how to properly identify email phishing schemes and requests for financial information via e-mail.

Educate your Volunteers and Employees

Educating your volunteers on cyber risks and how their online actions can increase these risks is important.Many times volunteers are using the nonprofits computer and get sidetracked by websites and internet browsing. If they are not careful, there is a chance they can end up downloading programs or spyware that causes harm or allows for hackers to gain access to the computer and server.

Change Your Passwords Often

It seems so simple, but when was the last time you changed passwords to your network, firewalls, or email accounts. By changing your passwords often, you decrease the opportunity for hackers to gain access to your accounts or system.

Create Strong Passwords
Create passwords that are strong and contain both alphabetic and numeric characters as well as special signs. Passwords should not be easy to guess and should not contain the organizations name, your name or the year.These types of passwords are the easiest type for hackers to break.

Maintain Your Computers, Software, and other Equipment.
Make sure you update your organization’s computers, software, and other equipment on a consistent basis.As new loopholes and errors are discovered by hackers, companies release updates to protect you and your nonprofit organization from being attacked. The best way to feel assured that you are protected from a breach is to have the most updated version and patches downloaded and in place.

Encrypt Your Emails

Nonprofits like yours spend great efforts on collecting personal information from donors to collect donations and maintain a database. The last thing your nonprofit or volunteers want is for that information to be compromised putting your donor at risk for identity theft. A great precaution to take is to utilize encrypted emails to transfer this information safely from one server to another.

Hire an IT Company or Expert

If none of the tips you have read up to this point seem feasible for your to implement, hiring an IT company or expert may be the safest route for you to take. Often times there are local companies that can provide an analysis of your nonprofit’s situation and create or implement a plan to ensure you are operating in safe manner and provide you with some comfort.

Purchase Cyber Liability Insurance

Since cyber breaches and hacks are growing at an alarming rate, insurance carriers recognized that there was a need to for cyber liability insurance. These types of risks are not typically covered under general liability insurance policies but can be purchased as an endorsement for an additional premium or as a separate policy for the nonprofit.Cyber liability insurance provides protection in the event of a cyber breach and helps the nonprofit abide by state notification laws, provides defense costs for lawsuits, covers costs for the mandated notifications and pays settlement if the nonprofit is named in a lawsuit as a result of the breach. For a complete list on what types of coverage a cyber liability policy should include, visit our Nonprofit Cyber liability insurance page.

Taking the time to review your Nonprofit’s possible cyber risks and cyber breaches today can save you a lot of time and aggravation in the future. These steps help protect your nonprofit, volunteers, and the donors who you rely on.

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