Nonprofit organizations operate on razor-thin budgets. They have to raise enough money to afford funding outreach programs, as well as sponsor special events that raise awareness of their worthy causes. Budgeting for nonprofits became especially problematic during the COVID-19 pandemic when donations dried up while expenses increased substantially. The last thing a nonprofit organization needs is to experience one or more data breaches.
Both nonprofit and for-profit organizations should understand the financial risks posed by cyberattacks. Because of this awareness, nonprofit organizations must take steps to secure computer networks. However, many nonprofits point to the prohibitive costs of maintaining secure computer networks and digital assets. IBM released a study called “2022 Cost of Data Breach Report” that states on average, a data breach produces a loss worth $9.44 million. Although the report’s finding was skewed by the results reported by large corporations, it emphasized the importance of nonprofit organizations taking steps to maintain a secure IT infrastructure.
Your nonprofit can protect itself from data breaches, without busting the annual budget, by following a few affordable tips.
Educate Team Members
Preventing data breaches should not be a top-down program in which senior managers shoulder most, if not all of the burden of securing a computer network. Your team members also should participate in implementing preventive measures that stop data breaches. This means leaders of nonprofit organizations must take the time required to educate every employee about how to detect phishing attacks and other types of suspicious online activities.
You can go outside of your nonprofit by recruiting an IT professional to conduct training sessions. The IT professional can write off the donated time as a donation in kind.
Install the Latest Cybersecurity Software
This tip represents the costliest tip on our list, but it is also considered one of the most effective tips to detect and thwart cyberattacks. Your nonprofit organization should install the latest cybersecurity software, as well as develop procedures that constantly monitor data security standards. If your nonprofit organization’s budget does not have enough revenue coming in to afford the latest cybersecurity software, consider sharing software programs with other nonprofits to defray the cost of cybersecurity.
Use a Password Manager
The key for a hacker to unlawfully gain access to your nonprofit organization’s proprietary data lies in the ability to discover the passwords used by one or more employees. Far too many nonprofit employees create simple passwords. By following the two-factor authentication (2FA) method, your employees should create hard-to-crack passwords. 2FA represents a procedure that requires anyone who wants access to proprietary data to complete two steps that verify authenticity. The first step involves creating a complex password of at least eight characters that include at least one number, one symbol, and one capital letter. As the second step, anyone logging on to your computer network must answer a personal question, such as the name of the first pet or the maiden name of a relative.
Some hackers are not satisfied with stealing sensitive proprietary data. They also commit a malicious act by deleting all the data that they stole. Losing some, most, or all of your nonprofit organization’s most valuable data can set your efforts back months, if not years. The most effective way to protect your nonprofit against data erasure involves backing up data several times during the day.
You also should encrypt sensitive data sent via emails.
At Ernst Wintter & Associates LLP, we provide comprehensive audit, review, examination and compilation services as well as tax services that fit your business needs. Our professionals have specific expertise in the financial services industry, nonprofit sector, and employee benefit plan audit requirements. Please contact us today.