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4 Cybersecurity Tips For Nonprofit Organizations

4 Cybersecurity Tips For Nonprofit Organizations

Cybersecurity attacks are on the rise. Global attacks rose by 28% in the third quarter of 2022 and the average organization received 1,130 attacks per week. 

As a leader of a nonprofit organization, you can’t afford to be the victim of a cybersecurity breach. Recovering from hacks and malware can be costly and put a serious dent in your current operations. 

Rather than leaving your security at risk, you need to secure your digital presence and ensure that everyone at your place of work is trained to reduce the risk of hacking, phishing, or fraud. 

1. Protect your documents

Nonprofits receive sensitive documents from clients, donors, and staff. Protecting these documents is of the utmost importance. However, most nonprofits store and transport private documents without any extra layers of security. 

You can secure your private documents by password-protecting PDFs. Choose a strong password to help you protect your PDF and ensure that only the people with clearance have access to the passwords. This extra layer of protection can put cybercriminals off and give you greater peace of mind when sharing documents via email or cloud computing.  

2. Be mindful of data storage

Just like any other business, nonprofits store and manage a massive amount of data. You receive data from clients, business partners, and internal operations. Ensuring that your data is completely secure is a vital part of your overall data management strategy. 

Cloud computing is a great way to maintain, organize, and utilize the data you collect. However, cloud computing isn’t without its risks. Common cloud security risks include:

  • Data loss: Human error is the most common form of data loss, but malicious actors who gain access to your cloud files may be able to permanently delete the data you collect.
  • Unauthorized personnel: Hacking is a crime, but that doesn’t mean your cloud storage won’t be targeted by malicious actors. When unauthorized personnel gain access to your cloud, they can do almost anything they want with the data they find.
  • Compromised application programming interface (API): An API allows your computer programs to “talk” to one another. However, many cloud storage options use multi-tenant APIs. When one of these APIs is compromised, the whole system can be put at risk. 

Cloud computing is widely recognized as a safe, cost-effective way to store your data. However, it isn’t without its risks. A targeted cyber attack can result in you losing control of your private data. This can cause legal issues for your nonprofit, as you may be legally obliged to protect the privacy of the data you have collected. 

3. Beef up staff training

If you run a nonprofit with multiple employees, it's highly likely that someone will be targeted by a phishing email or malware. 94% of malware is delivered via email, yet only 20% of nonprofits have a cybersecurity response in place in the event of an attack. 

You can minimize your risk of a breach by training your staff. Teach staff to recognize the signs of phishing or suspicious emails. Even a simple training program can make all the difference, as folks may be surprised to learn that malicious actors will pose as fellow employees and use underhand tactics to gain access to their data. 

4. Secure payment processing

Payment processing can be one of the most nerve-wracking moments for donors and staff. You’ve finally convinced a generous donor to make a donation and need a secure, succinct payment option to process their contribution. 

You can take the stress out of payment processing by choosing a program that has a great reputation and is well known for its tight security. Reassess your current payment portal, and take a look around for new offerings on the market. You may find that your existing payment processor is outdated and lacks security measures to keep donors safe. 

You should also train staff to follow the best cybersecurity policies when processing donations. At a minimum, you should use: 

  • Software changelog: A software changelog keeps track of all the updates, patches, and bug fixes that get sent out by developers. 
  • Payment card industry (PCI) compliance: PCI compliance is the standard for businesses that handle payment information. Ensure that the payment portal you use is PCI-compliant and meets all of the necessary requirements. 
  • Encryption: Encryption provides an extra layer of security that protects you and your donors. Enabling encryption requires you to complete an extra step and is much like using a key to unlock a safe in real-life. 


Hold a high standard for your cybersecurity when processing donations. This will keep your donor's information safe and ensure that you don’t receive any negative PR due to a data breach during payment. 

Conclusion

Cybersecurity is a serious threat to your nonprofit’s short and long-term goals. You can secure your business against attacks by training your staff and utilizing emerging technology that fights off attackers. Encrypt your payment process and secure sensitive documents with passwords. 

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Amanda Winstead

Amanda Winstead is a writer from the Portland area with a background in communications and a passion for telling stories. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts. If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.

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