Businesses are always under the radar of cybercriminals and nonprofits too have started facing the heat of the hackers now. In 2021, we witnessed data security incidents happening with nonprofit businesses as well!
Data breaches are knocking on the doors of nonprofit businesses at an alarming rate and it’s high time that they focus on ensuring the best security to prevent such data breaches! It’s important to study from the ones who have been affected in the past and hence, in this article, we will sail through some noteworthy incidents that made up to the headlines in 2021. Let’s read Top IT Security Incidents In 2021 For Nonprofit Businesses.
Blackbaud offers a couple of software and other products for many organizations such as nonprofit businesses, education institutions, and foundations. In the Blackbaud data breach, over 120 nonprofit organizations were affected. They used Blackbaud’s fundraising platform and the data breach resulted in the discovery of sensitive data belonging to them. All their data was stolen and held captive by a ransomware assault. There were millions of contributors, patients, consumers, and employees who were impacted by the attack, which went on to become the greatest healthcare data breach of the year. Blackbaud also notified that its independent forensics experts, cyber security staff, and law enforcement blocked the criminal from barring system access and entirely encrypting files, and evicting the criminal from its system. Before being removed from the system, the thief deleted a copy of some data.
Blackbaud paid a ransom to cybercriminals to ensure that data stolen from its computers after data being captured for months was erased. Blackbaud was criticized for having unlawfully poor data security which ended up affected millions of people. NGOs have called out the company for being “negligent” and asserted that they were in violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in Europe. This incident made nonprofit organizations globally question the security of their data.
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1863, the International Committee of the Red Cross is a humanitarian organization that has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize three times. The attack exposed the personal and confidential information of more than 5,15,000 highly vulnerable people. This included those who had been separated from their families as a result of migration, conflict, a natural disaster, detained people, missing people, and their families. At least 60 Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies from around the world contributed to the compilation of the statistics that were stolen as a part of the data breach.
The most stressful thing for ICRC following this attack is the potential risks that could arise as a result of the breach. This includes the release of confidential information to the public of those whom ICRC seeks to protect and assist. This has badly impacted the people who have separated from their families and are looking for some assistance.
As of now, it is not known who is behind this cyber-attack and what amount has been demanded as a part of the ransom. Also, the compromised information has not been leaked or shared with the public yet. Robert Mardini, the director-general of ICRC has clarified that the organization has no idea about who the attacker is, and he has requested the attacker to not release the sensitive data as it contains the data of vulnerable people who need humanitarian aid. He added to his words that they are working closely with their humanitarian partners worldwide and they are trying to figure out the intensity of the attack. The ICRC is taking all the required measures to safeguard its data from any data breaches in the future.
Beyond these two major cases, many private schools and hospitals running under the nonprofit category faced data security incidents in 2021. It becomes extremely vital to understand how nonprofits can prevent data breaches.
How To Avoid Security Breaches in the Nonprofit Sector
After going through the above incidents, one thing is clear: IT security is something that has been underestimated and every possible measure must be taken to strengthen it. Understanding the vast amount of data kept across donor databases, websites, marketing campaigns, and applications is important. Here are a few things that nonprofit businesses can do:
Employ a Highly Experienced IT Team
An ideal IT team is the one who knows how to ensure the best level of safety for your data. The team will study the present situation of cybersecurity. Also, they will study the potential risks and the scope of improvement. As hackers come up with new ways of hacking every day, it is important that IT professionals keep themselves updated and keep on introducing changes to the security accordingly to prevent any risks in the future.
Store Data in Cloud Storage
Cloud storage is a relatively new concept, and it has gained immense popularity in no time! Well, there is a reason for it. It is super convenient for businesses to operate. Cloud storage is often less expensive as normally businesses invest in a lot of storage and hardware devices that contain the data. The cost of hardware and maintenance is eliminated when you move your organization to the cloud making it extremely affordable to use. A cloud-based solution that allows businesses to constantly track cybersecurity at all times and from any location is necessary. Investing in cloud storage can serve all these purposes.
It’s a common misconception that only big businesses can be targeted as a part of cyberattacks. We should note that vulnerabilities for nonprofit businesses are increasing. Many survivors of domestic violence, economically disadvantaged individuals, individuals, activists, and targets of racial violence are in ones who are most impacted by such attacks. The above-mentioned case studies show the intensity at which such cyberattacks can impact organizations. To avoid them, nonprofit businesses should be alert at all times. Investing in a good team of IT professionals and taking the entire data stored on the cloud can be helpful for nonprofit businesses for ensuring the safety of their data.