Cyber Breaches Have Far-Reaching Consequences Beyond Finances at Nonprofit Organizations, Says Info-Tech Research Group
The modern digital landscape has significantly amplified the potential for sensitive data leaks and theft. Data breaches at nonprofit organizations in particular can result in heightened risks and as they compromise the wellbeing of their members, donors, and users, causing disruptions to nonprofits' day-to-day operations. These consequences extend beyond finances and include operational disruptions, service delays, and potential penalties. To aid nonprofit organizations in safeguarding their stakeholders' information, Info-Tech Research Group, a global IT research and advisory firm, has released its latest industry blueprint, "Strengthen Your Nonprofit's Privacy and Security Operations."
"It's crucial for nonprofit organizations to remember that if privacy and security fall short, it may become impossible to carry out tasks and initiatives that fulfill their mission," says Monica Pagtalunan, research analyst at Info-Tech Research Group. "Data breaches can put members, donors, and users at risk, disrupt nonprofit operations, expose liability, and ruin the reputation and revenue nonprofits have built. The stakes for nonprofits are much higher than for for-profit businesses."
Info-Tech's resource explains that a nonprofit organization's fiduciary obligation and mission promise to prioritize the stakeholders' interests must include its obligation to protect IT assets that hold their personal data through privacy and cybersecurity protocols. However, nonprofits face several obstacles in combating data breaches, including prioritizing mission-focused budgets over operational ones, a lack of defined cybersecurity and privacy foundations, and an inaccurate reliance on cyber insurance as a sole solution.
"Nonprofits are starting to pay attention to data security, yet they loathe to make changes that mitigate cyber risks due to lack of capital and human resources, which remain major obstacles to the path of maturity and consistency," explains Pagtalunan.
According to Info-Tech's research, the foremost concern for nonprofits is the risk of information leakage, which affects the entire organization and is not limited to IT alone. There are several processes where a nonprofit may be exposed to the risk of a data leak, including data collection, processing donations or event registrations, or transferring data to the cloud. The impacted data can include sensitive, personally identifiable information of donors, members, and users. The potential impacts can include the following:
- Exposed confidential or sensitive information
- Inaccessible data and a compromised environment
- Reputational damage and the loss of support and revenue
- Legal or regulatory fines and investigations
- Organization-wide interruption
To combat data breaches, Info-Tech advises nonprofit organizations adopt a comprehensive approach, which includes effectively communicating the importance of robust cybersecurity and privacy programs to key stakeholders using language that aligns with the organization's goals. Additionally, evaluating the intersection of privacy and security measures will help in understanding how to mitigate the risk of data leaks or loss of donor or member information. Taking the crucial first step of assessing existing privacy and security gaps enables nonprofits to proactively address vulnerabilities and enhance their overall defense against data breaches.
Managing security operations is an ongoing and continuous responsibility for organizations. Despite obstacles like the cybersecurity skills gap and limited IT resources, allocating appropriate oversight and supervision is crucial to ensure effective security and privacy operations. In cases where assembling an in-house IT team is not feasible, Info-Tech recommends outsourcing as the ideal option.
The preceding press release was provided by a company unaffiliated with NonProfit PRO. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of NonProfit PRO.