malwareJust as the human body is prone to infection and other illnesses that harm our health, computers and other digital devices are subject to viruses that can affect their ability to function properly.  Small bits of malicious code, or malware, can be hidden nearly anywhere. These computer viruses are often embedded, unseen, deep within programs, emails, games, digital files, websites and memory discs.

Malware is Always Harmful

While some computer viruses attack your devices directly, others take over your programming by exploiting flaws and security flaws that exist within your computer’s operating system. Once a virus is installed on your computer, many harmful events can occur, from a simple slow down in processing speed, to the silent theft of your digital information.

Sometimes, your operating system and files can become so corrupted by the virus that it becomes impossible to access your information, and other times, computer hackers can literally hold your computer, and its contents hostage unless users anonymously pay them a hefty fee to regain access.

Computer Viruses Can Cause Irreversible, and Expensive, Damage

When a computer virus strikes, it can take hours, days and even weeks or months to be able to isolate and identify the virus and clean and restore your computer so that it functions normally. Sometimes the damage can be so severe that it is impossible to recover.

Office Holders Have a Legal, Fiduciary Duty to Protect Information

Malware isn’t just costly in terms of the downtime that is involved, and the expense that organisations must go to retrieve their data and secure it from future attacks. When knowledge of the security breach leaks out, it can damage the victim’s reputation as well. Just like for-profit firms, nonprofits are legally responsible for taking reasonable measures to protect the financial and personal identities and related information of their stakeholders, including donors, recipients, volunteers, staff and others connected with the organisation.

Tips to Increase Digital Security in Your NFP

The following strategies can help your NFP better secure its vital information.

Move to the Cloud

Cloud-based storage is updated automatically, which means that you don’t have to go through a lengthy process to download security patches and updates and creating fewer opportunities for malicious code to sneak into your systems “in between” updates. Since nothing is physically stored on the hard drives of your computers and other devices, there’s also less chance for a would-be thief to “hack” into a local machine and steal information stored locally.

Train Your Team

All organisations are only as strong as their weakest link. Take the time to provide security training to your staff and other key members of your organisation that use digital devices. Teach them the importance of creating secure passwords, and, the best practices for changing them and not sharing them, so they are, in fact, secure. Provide details on the importance of avoiding suspicious sites, emails and other potential security threats when they are online.

Update Your Security Protocols

There are several steps that your organisation should take to enhance its overall digital security. For example, instead of requiring just a username and password to log into your NFPs computers and network, consider adding additional steps, such as multi-layer encryption, two-factor authentication and VPN connections to make it more difficult for a would-be hacker to gain access to your nonprofit’s financial records and other sensitive data.

Each year, millions of computers around the world fall victim to malware and other computer viruses. Each of these events is costly, even if it is just downtime and payroll that is lost.  Providing online safety training, and, upgrading your systems and software to take advantage of the greater security offered by cloud storage are two great ways for your NFP to beef up its online security and decrease the risk of loss.