Cybersecurity Risk Assessment For Nonprofits

Cybercrime is a booming business, and hackers are widening their net – and are perfectly happy to work with whatever they happen to catch.

Are There Really Cybersecurity Concerns For Nonprofits?

The simple truth is that absolutely no one is immune to cyber threats. All data is valuable to the right buyer, which makes taking a crack at your nonprofit’s defenses worthwhile for a hacker. As threats like phishing scams and ransomware continue to evolve, there is a long list of ways a cybercriminal can do financial damage to an organization.

A Cybersecurity Risk Assessment is an effective means of gauging your nonprofit’s IT security posture and uncovering vulnerabilities and oversights in your security infrastructure. You can’t correct or control things that you don’t know about.

Technology is just as much a part of today’s nonprofits as it is any other type of entity, changing the way you manage and store information, network with businesses and vendors, and interact with donors. Social media is a fantastic asset or raising awareness and boosting attendance for fundraisers and other events, and the ability to collect donations through your site can widen your donor pool.

This heightened online presence means your staff and volunteers spend a lot of time online, interacting with users on public platforms and fielding emails. And of course, the more of your financial data that is stored on your systems and servers, the more aware you need to be of threats that could expose that data.

How Can A Cybersecurity Risk Assessment Help?

A Cybersecurity Risk Assessment is an excellent tool for discovering weak points in your cybersecurity measures and oversights in your access controls and data security policies. Even if you have your own internal IT personnel taking care of things, by having IT security professionals assess your technology infrastructure from top to bottom, you’re able to get a clear and complete picture of where you stand.

A Cybersecurity Risk Assessment identifies any and all information assets that could be impacted by a cyber attack (hardware, financial data, donor information, social media pages, etc.), and then identifies and outlines the various risks that could affect those assets. A risk evaluation is usually performed as part of this process, followed by recommendations for changes, software, or protocols that will address and mitigate or manage the identified risks.

It’s important to continually monitor and review the risk environment to make sure that any changes within the nonprofit are noted and incorporated into your security infrastructure. These changes could be things like adopting a new app or piece of software, upgrading or replacing hardware, changes to your staff, or changes to your roster of volunteers that have access to any part of your network or data. It’s just as important to maintain an overview of the complete risk management process. No matter how experienced and competent your IT personnel may be, or whether or not you have a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) overseeing them, there are compliance standards to be met, a board of directors to answer to, and donors whose confidence you need to retain.

Keeping tabs on all of this becomes more complicated when you consider that there are elements of threat prevention that are entirely out of your IT team or CISO’s hands. Cybersecurity is complex and multi-layered, and there are aspects of it that can only be controlled through training and data security policies. It’s in this regard that an assessment can be especially valuable.

The human element of your organization can make or break your cybersecurity efforts, so determining where human behavior can impact your security is essential. All it takes is one small mistake – someone downloading a malicious email attachment or leaving login credentials where anyone can access them – and you’ve got a serious problem. A Cybersecurity Risk Assessment is an excellent starting point from which to educate your staff and volunteers on risk management, cyber threat awareness, and access controls.

Whether you’re a small community-based organization or a nonprofit serving a much larger area or demographic and regardless of what your in-house IT department looks like, a fresh set of eyes can often spot what eyes that are on your IT every single day can’t. Bringing in a reputable IT security provider and having their experts comb through your infrastructure can reveal hairline cracks forming in otherwise reliable solutions or point out potential vulnerabilities that your own experts might have overlooked.

Catching these issues, big or small, before they create openings a hacker can take advantage of doesn’t just protect your data; it protects your reputation and allows you to keep doing what you do best and supporting those who count on your support.