Providing Peace of Mind and Security to the Heart of the Charity Sector

Cybersecurity is a critical issue and charities must take steps to protect themselves.

charity sector security

Recent incidents have highlighted the importance of cybersecurity for charities, especially given the sensitive data that charities often handle. The charities affected by recent attacks were forced to suspend services temporarily while they worked to restore their systems.

Recently ransomware hackers made headlines as they attacked a data management firm, whereby up to 9 charities in Ireland were impacted. 

In May 2021, it was reported that several charities in Ireland had been targeted in a cyber-attack. The attack was a form of ransomware, which is a type of malware that encrypts files on a victim’s computer or network, making them inaccessible until a ransom is paid.

The attackers demanded a ransom from the charities in exchange for the decryption key to restore access to their files. The attack affected several charities and NGOs throughout Ireland.

The Irish Charities Regulator released a statement urging charities to take immediate steps to protect their systems and data. The regulator recommended that charities implement multi-factor authentication, keep their software up-to-date, and back up their data regularly.

In today’s world, cyber threats are increasingly common, and charities are not immune. These incidents serve as a reminder that cybersecurity is a critical issue for charities and that they must take steps to protect themselves from cyber-attacks.

Unfortunately, charities are often seen as easy targets because they may not have the same level of cybersecurity resources as larger organizations. Therefore, it is essential for charities to take steps to protect their systems and data from potential cyber-attacks. Here we will explore some of the ways that charities can prevent cybersecurity attacks.

1. Train your staff on cybersecurity best practices

One of the most effective ways to prevent cyber-attacks is to ensure that your staff is trained in cybersecurity best practices. Your staff should be aware of the potential risks and understand how to identify suspicious activity, such as phishing emails, suspicious links, and unsolicited emails. Providing training on password management, data security, and device security can also help to reduce the risk of cyber-attacks.

2. Implement multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication is an extra layer of security that requires users to provide additional verification before accessing an account. This could be in the form of a one-time password sent to a mobile phone, a fingerprint scan, or a security question. By implementing multi-factor authentication, you can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access to your systems and data.

3. Keep your software up to date

Ensuring that all software is up-to-date, including antivirus software, can help prevent cybersecurity attacks. Many software updates include security patches that address known vulnerabilities. Failing to update your software can leave your systems and data at risk of cyber-attacks.

4. Back up your data

Backing up your data is essential in case of a cyber-attack. If your systems are compromised, having a backup of your data ensures that you can recover it quickly and easily. Make sure that you store backups off-site, so they are not at risk of being affected by the same cyber-attack.

5. Limit access to data and systems

Limiting access to your systems and data is another way to reduce the risk of cyber-attacks. Only provide access to those who need it, and ensure that each user has a unique username and password. You can also implement role-based access control, which ensures that users can only access the data and systems they need for their role.

6. Conduct regular cybersecurity assessments

Conducting regular cybersecurity assessments can help to identify vulnerabilities in your systems and data. This can include penetration testing, vulnerability scans, and risk assessments. By identifying potential vulnerabilities, you can take steps to address them before they can be exploited by cybercriminals.

7. Have a response plan in place

Even with the best prevention measures, cyber-attacks can still happen. Therefore, it’s important to have a response plan in place in case of a cybersecurity incident. This should include procedures for responding to an attack, reporting the incident, and mitigating any damage. Regularly testing and updating the response plan can ensure that it’s effective in case of an emergency.

8. Invest in Managed IT Services

Charities should invest in Managed IT services for security to ensure that their sensitive data, donor information, and other confidential information are protected against cyber threats. As the hackers are on the cusp of trends, the IT staff at charities may not have capacity to be up-to-date or have dedicated resources.

Charities, tasked with delivering some of the most important services to our community, are now taxed with ensuring the prevention cyber-attacks. By implementing these best practices, charities can help protect their systems and data from cybercriminals. Investing in cybersecurity now can save a lot of trouble and financial loss in the future.

DigitalWell understands there is a lot to the day-today running of any organisation, especially a non-for-profit. Talk to us today and see how we work with the Charity Sector to that everything from patch management to endpoint protection is tailored to their needs. Learn more about our security offerings.