Why do cybercriminals target nonprofits?

Why do cybercriminals target nonprofits?

It’s a common misconception that the smaller your business, the less likely it is to be a cybercrime target. Similarly, there’s a misconception that nonprofit organizations are relatively safe from rampant digital breaches. What is there to steal, after all? Wouldn’t criminals be drawn to larger, more “important” prey?

In reality, 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses, with nonprofits being as much of a target as for-profit organizations. In fact, a survey by the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology showed that 50% of NGOs or nonprofits had experienced a ransomware attack.

So what do criminals have to gain from breaching a nonprofit? We dive into reasons below, and how you can start protecting your NGO or nonprofit organization today.

Nonprofits hold a vast amount of valuable data

Although a nonprofit business itself may not hold large reserves of cash that cybercriminals seek, what they do have is information and plenty of it.

Nonprofits are appealing targets primarily for their financial data. Donation or fundraising portals that lack adequate security are a prime source for sensitive bank and credit card information. In the same vein, those who rely on flimsy third-party payment systems also leave their data vulnerable to hackers.

Additionally, nonprofits hold plenty of critical client information (i.e., Social Security numbers, health records, etc.). This provides yet another incentive to breach their systems, as such data can be used for fraud, extortion, or other related crimes.

Nonprofits commonly lack strong cybersecurity

The second issue that lend to nonprofits’ tendency of being prime targets is their lack of adequate security measures.

According to the NTEN’s (Nonprofit Technology Enterprise) State of Nonprofit Cybersecurity Report, such businesses were found to have multiple gaps in their security policies. These included not having documented policies or procedures in the case of attacks, not providing cybersecurity training on a regular basis, and a lack of management tools for filing or sharing user IDs and passwords.

To make matters worse, nonprofits often lack dedicated IT security staff despite it being a common area of concern.

This relaxed approach to cybersecurity (often spurred by a “it can’t happen to me” mindset), is what makes nonprofits a generally popular target among hackers. It doesn’t help that such organizations typically use free software and cheap website hosting, all while lacking the security expertise necessary to fend off a plethora of cyberthreats.

While larger nonprofits may have the means to survive an attack, smaller ones can often face permanent damage. Those that are understaffed and typically rely on volunteers lack the manpower and skills needed to perform successful disaster recovery. As a result, they may lose their overall reputation along with their business data for good.

What can nonprofits do to protect themselves?

To successfully protect your nonprofit organization from cyberattacks, a shift in mindset should be the first step. Dispose of the idea that your organization has nothing valuable to steal, as you likely hold plenty of valuable client and financial information for hackers to easily compromise.

Secondly, it’s wise to do an audit of your current security protocols and pinpoint your areas of vulnerability or weakness. Perhaps your workers lack adequate knowledge of cybersecurity or company devices don’t have sufficient levels of protection? You’ll also have to ask yourself whether it’s time to hire a dedicated IT team, and whether they should be outsourced or in-house.

Determine the security needs of your business and take the steps required to implement them. It may also help to implement access controls based on roles in your organization. New members or volunteers may not necessarily need access to vital client information as those in management positions, for example.

Thirdly, it’s important to consistently update your technology. Outdated hardware not only leads to slow performance, but also to potential incompatibility with new security updates. Similarly, constantly updating your security software is crucial. New patches or bug fixes ensure all your protective methods are working to the highest standard, keeping your security in top shape.

Large or small, for-profit or NGO, cybercrime doesn’t discriminate among organizations. Keep your nonprofit safe, secure, and consistently protected through Founders Technology’s security solutions. From email and spam protection to network and wireless security, our experts have the tools to keep your business standing strong. Avoid falling victim to common cybercrime tactics — inquire with our security team today!