Nonprofits are suffering from escalating cybersecurity threats that are resulting in millions of dollars in damages. In some cases, nonprofits suffer irreversible harm to their reputation and carefully cultivated relationships and are forced to shut down. In other cases, they don’t have the resources to recover.
For these reasons, nonprofits are taking cybersecurity more seriously. Here are some quick actions that are remediating the risk of cybersecurity attacks.
- Organizations are now using secure nonprofit software to protect data. For instance, secure nonprofit donor management software is cloud-based and hosted on a highly encrypted server like AWS. It is PA-DSS compliant to securely process credit cards and manage sensitive payment data. It is also HIPAA & PIPEDA compliant to shield confidential client data from prying eyes.
- Nonprofits are using anti-malware, anti-ransomware, and endpoint security systems to protect data onsite and off-site from different types of risks.
- Employees at nonprofits are learning to recognize hidden threats.
- Nonprofit organizations are encouraging staff to use complex passwords and multi-factor authentication to protect accounts.
- More nonprofits are buying legitimate software instead downloading unlicensed software to cut costs. Unlicensed software can hide ransomware, spyware, keyloggers, and Trojanpassword-stealers.
Let’s take a glance at some cybersecurity attacks that are hurting nonprofits:
#1 Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware is a dangerous type of malicious software that attacks nonprofits by encrypting their data and locking their computers. After successfully launching an attack, ransomware games demand an extortion fee to restore access. Typically, the demand for money is in the shape of a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. Unfortunately, there’s never a guarantee of file restoration, even after payment. In addition, organizations that pay ransomware gangs are more likely to be hit with repeat attacks.
#2 Social Engineering Attacks
Social engineering attacks are types of online attacks that manipulate human emotions such as fear, greed, love, etc. Here are some common social engineering attacks that hackers may use against a nonprofit:
- Phishing: A phishing attack involves fraudulent emails, links, texts, voice messages, and websites. Usually, the goal of such an attack is to infect a nonprofit’s systems with malware.
- Pretexting: A pretexting attack takes weeks, if not months, to execute. Here, threat actors create a pretext to win the confidence of a target before executing a data breach. For example, a nonprofit employee may be befriended by an online friend who eventually asks for sensitive information such as usernames and passwords or donor information.
- Baiting: Hackers use bait like an infected USB drive or DVD in a baiting attack. For instance, they may mail a USB with malicious files to a nonprofit while pretending to be a donor.
#3 Spyware Attacks
Spyware is an insidious type of malicious software that can snoop on a nonprofit’s emails, text messages, and other sensitive information. Spyware may take screenshots, log keystrokes, or record video and audio for its author. A successful spyware attack can be damaging for any organization, leaking names, addresses, passwords, and payment data.
Spyware isn’t just limited to computers but mobile devices too. For example, the Israeli-made spyware called Pegasus can breach an iPhone’s security to devastating effect. Reportedly, threat actors used Pegasus to spy on some international NGOs and charities.
Hackers are growing smarter and more sophisticated. Nonprofits must stay one step ahead of cybercriminals by adopting defense mechanisms and investing in training.