We look at five essential cyber security issues every charity needs to consider
Our guest writer, Adrienne Campbell, is a security consultant and holds a BS degree in Cyber/Computer Forensics and Counterterrorism from the University of Illinois, Chicago.
In a world where everything is turning digital, data security is a major concern. Data security is of particular importance when cyber-attacks are at an all-time high, with studies suggesting hackers attack once every 39 seconds.
While it’s true that not all of these attacks are successful, many such attacks are used to gauge the vulnerability of sites to aid in larger breach attempts.
Charities are especially vulnerable to hackers and other malicious elements because they are sometimes perceived as easy targets that are quite rewarding because:
The risks posed by hackers to non-profits are serious. To put that into perspective, NTEN reports that nearly 56% of non-profits do not implement multiple-factor authentication on their user accounts, which in itself would deter a lot of hackers.
In this article, we look at the major cybersecurity challenges faced by charities in 2021 and offer some advice on dealing with cyber threats.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that infects computers and encrypts all of the files on them. They are called ransomware because these viruses demand payment in the form of cryptocurrencies to be transferred to the perpetrators in exchange for decrypting the victim’s files.
Such attacks are gaining popularity among hackers because there is not much a victim can do to recover their files once infected, other than pay the ransom.
There is no guarantee, however, that hackers will decrypt the files or hand over access – even after you have paid the ransom. The best line of defence against such attacks is to teach employees and volunteers about the risks of downloading unrecognised files from the internet and installing robust anti-virus software in each system in their network.
Data breaches are a significant risk for charities. Charities often sensitive information in their databases, such as personal information, including IDs, names, phone numbers, credit card details, and tax-records.
This is valuable information to hackers looking to make some quick money by selling this information or using it to identify other potential targets.
You can minimise the risk of a data breach by auditing your organisation’s vulnerability and taking appropriate measures, such as encrypting information via a virtual private network (VPN).
Making regular backups of your organisation’s data is important and can serve as a point of recovery if something untoward should happen and you lose your data. This can occur due to system malfunctions or malicious attacks on the system.
Designing and sticking to a backup plan for your charity can go a long way. Ideally, the best way to safeguard your data is to create multiple copies of it and store each one in the cloud, locally as well as off-site.
A distributed denial of service (DDoS) is a common method hackers use to take down systems or entire networks by burdening them with more requests than they can handle.
This is often accomplished using an extensive network of computers or other devices called a botnet that is remotely controlled by hackers. Exposing systems to extreme levels of stress can cause it to expose vulnerabilities and allow hackers to steal data or, at the very least, take your website offline for as long as they wish.
Dealing with DDoS attacks effectively requires system administrators to employ special anti-DDoS tools, such as captchas that check the identity of each request before letting it get to your server.
Many charities operate on donations received from generous donors who care about their cause. This is a golden opportunity for hackers to misappropriate funds by stealing them, deterring your charity from reaching its goals.
To maintain the credibility of your organisation, it’s imperative to have a plan of action to defend against such cybercrimes. Employing a cybersecurity protocol is the best way to prevent a data security crisis.
Data privacy is a crucial consideration and more relevant than ever in 2021. Non-profit organisations must seek to protect their and their donors’ data by incorporating robust cybersecurity protocols.
This involves periodic auditing of data security measures, creating multiple data backups and redundancies, and using a high-standard of encryption for sensitive information.
Charities are exposed to a disproportionate risk to cybercrime due to the absence of stringent security measures. Taking some of the steps mentioned above is sure to make your charity less vulnerable to the looming threat of a data disaster.