This is a guest post authored by Brent Scott, a Cybersecurity Advocacy Writer at LifeLock
The ugly truth is, cybercrime is becoming strikingly widespread. An attack can happen to anyone, yet nonprofits and NGOs are increasingly prime targets, thanks to the donor and financial data they hold and, in some cases, the causes they support. Not only can cyber criminals gain access to sensitive data for their own illicit use, they can also corrupt or erase data altogether. While your team is out in the community or around the world doing good, it’s important to never lose sight of vital precautionary steps that can help to protect your organization’s data and the personal information entrusted to you.
World Backup Day is Saturday, March 31, and it’s never too late to implement a backup plan to ensure you have copies of important files and data in more than one place. It’s also a good time to give computer networks and mobile devices a thorough review to ensure your systems – and team using them – are operating securely.
Here are four simple steps you can take to back up and protect your data:
1. Back up important files – and delete old ones
Make a second copy of all important documents, emails and data files. Rather than storing everything on computers or in the cloud, consider an external, safe location for storing file copies – such as a USB drive, an external hard drive or an external solid state drive (SSD).
Old files can contain everything from donor addresses to organizational financial information and, if left unprotected, could lead to identity theft if a cybercriminal gets their hands on them. Old files may also contain important historical information that should be preserved. Consider buying a hard drive and actively moving old files offline for safe keeping; delete files you don’t need (and delete your trash).
It’s also a good idea to delete programs or apps that you don’t use as they can contain data even when not in active use. Make sure to check the security settings on the apps you do regularly use while you’re at it. The good news is that this will free up some space on mobile phones or computers while simultaneously keeping them secure. This practice should be replicated by all employees or volunteers using a mobile device or accessing organizational cloud systems from personal computers.
2. Run Frequent Updates
From updating passwords to double checking privacy settings, doing your due diligence to keep computer network and device security current is essential to defend against threats. Running software updates on all your devices allows systems to upgrade security programs.
Although it can be a hassle, changing passwords often is the best defense against the risk of your data being compromised from a hack. Experts suggest utilizing a multi-factor authentication to prevent falling victim to phishing scams that often take aim at staff’s identity information.
3. Download anti-malware
Downloading virus protection or anti-malware software is an easy step in the right direction to defend your organizational data from being lost or compromised by a hack or cybercrime. The software will work behind the scenes to detect viruses on your devices and remove malicious software before it can cause harm. This not only enhances the lifespan of your device, but protects your data from external threats.
4. Monitor your activity
When keeping an eye out for security breaches, you’ll want to monitor the activity coming from your computer. You can do this by checking your computer’s browser for irregular activity and watch for disappearing files, both indications that your system may be infected with a virus.
There are also companies that can help monitor for your organization on the dark web. Should you be victim of a breach, or suspect a breach, you can specify data to be searched for – financial account numbers or even donor email addresses you’ve collected over the years – through cyber monitoring. While potentially costly, the extra monitoring by professionals can assist in confirming any data that has been stolen from you and help you develop a response plan to a potential breach.
As part of a concerted digital security plan, it is important for nonprofit organizations to set aside time to back up important files and to give computer networks and devices the thorough security attention they deserve. It can make the difference between safeguarding mission-critical information and losing it all in an instant.