Common Online Threat Vectors Nonprofits Face

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In the digital era, all types of organizations, including no-profits, use online tools to do business. But while modern technology is beneficial, it’s also prone to online attacks. Threat actors like hackers, ransomware gangs, online thieves, and scammers target companies indiscriminately. Such unscrupulous malicious actors will even hold charities hostage to make a quick buck. As the leader of a non-profit, you can mitigate risks by identifying common online threat vectors and preparing security strategies. 

#1 Unsecured Software 

Unsecured software can allow a hacker to breach your database and steal valuable data that can degrade your company’s operation capacity and reputation. And for a non-profit, reputation can be everything. That’s why you need to use software known for solid security. For instance, the best CRM software for small non-profit organisations in terms of cybersecurity employs PA-DSS certification, which is the highest level of software protection for the secure handling of payment data. It also allows you to segment access on a need-to-know basis to protect sensitive customer information from potential internal security lapses. 

#2 Exploits 

An exploit is a type of software security flaw that allows hackers to hack a system but has a patch. Meanwhile, zero-day exploits are types of security flaws that have no patches. While your organization can do nothing about zero-day exploits, they can probably fix regular ones by downloading the latest software patches. 

#3 Phishing Attacks 

Phishing attacks are fake emails that trick people into downloading malware or sharing sensitive information. A phishing attack on a non-profit can help a hacker steal donor information, payment data, staff names and addresses, or launch a ransomware strain. Training employees to spot phishing attacks is a critical mitigation strategy. 

Some phishing attacks like spear-phishing are harder to spot because they’re more targeted. For instance, a spear-phishing email will be customized to appeal to a target or a group of targets. Similarly, whaling attacks may focus on you, the leader of the non-profit, or use your identity to trick your donors. An instance of a whaling attack is when a hacker pretends to be the CEO of a non-profit to trick key donors into sending money. 

Train staff to verify suspicious emails and use spam filters to shield your organization from advanced phishing attacks. Any email, phone call, or text message that uses alarmist language to trigger an action could be part of a scam. 

#4 Drive-by Downloads

A drive-by download attack will infect your company computer with a virus designed to attack your non-profit without your knowledge or consent. Drive-by downloads can even occur on legitimate websites. 

Unsecured software, exploits, phishing attacks, and drive-by downloads can all lead to malware infections like ransomware or spyware. Even with the best mitigation strategy, you need to update your operating system’s security tools to the latest version, use a browser security extension, and invest in endpoint protection software to shield your operations from malware. 

You should also regularly back up your data in the unlikely event of a ransomware attack on your non-profit. Often, mitigation strategies alongside top defense tools are more cost-effective than paying a hacker.