Over the past year, a staggering number of crises – from the global to the intensely personal – have emerged and persisted. When it comes to addressing complex problems and trying to make a difference, nonprofit organizations have been a lifeline to some of our most vulnerable areas.
But because of a global increase in cybercrime, NGOs themselves are becoming more and more vulnerable. Although this affects many industries and organizations, NGOs are frequently seen as being particularly at risk since they do not have the funding to adequately protect the data they need to function, which might affect everyone from donors to program participants to volunteers.
Microsoft is responding by introducing the Security Program for Nonprofits, a collection of security offerings designed to complement Microsoft’s security suite. These offerings will provide proactive monitoring and notification in the event of a nation-state attack, assess organizational and infrastructure risk to help organizations improve their security posture based on their environment, and streamline security training for IT specialists and end users. In the first year, we want to help 10,000 groups, and in three years, we want to help 50,000 organizations all over the world. This comprises:
AccountGuard for Nonprofits: This program alerts organizations when sophisticated nation-state actors target or compromise their Microsoft 365 organizational accounts, or the personal Outlook and Hotmail accounts of staff and board members.
32 new countries have already joined the program, and more than 1,500 threat notifications have been sent out. We are currently providing AccountGuard at no additional cost to any qualified NGOs. In their nonprofit hub, eligible groups can claim the offering to learn more and get started.
Free security assessments: We are providing free security evaluations to nonprofit organizations to assist them in better understanding the vulnerabilities in their infrastructure, network, endpoints, identity access, and data to support and prioritize an immediate action and remediation plan to better protect their environment from any looming risk with assistance from our partner ecosystem. Speak to your account team about scheduling an assessment, or register here.
Free training options for end users and IT administrators: No matter the function, we have developed training pathways to streamline the best-suggested training for NGOs. Today, workers from all backgrounds can learn the most recent techniques for staying safe from online threats and scams and working more safely from home. The Security Skill Hub and the Microsoft 365 Administrator's Security Toolkit are both accessible to IT administrators via the Security Program for Nonprofits page.
According to Microsoft’s 2021 Digital Defense Report, cybercrime has advanced in skill and scope over the previous year, preying on those that are vulnerable to attack.
The research notes that, in the previous year, NGOs and think tanks accounted for 31% of all reports of nation-state assaults against organizational domains as detected by Microsoft, making them the second most targeted sector by hackers. Because they frequently hold sensitive data, these institutions make desirable targets for nation-state actors. Additionally, even though thieves attempt to access government and nonprofit databases every 39 seconds, up to 70% of charity networks lack a thorough vulnerability assessment to establish risk, according to the 2021 Cybersecurity Guide for Nonprofit Organizations.
Organizations like Catholic Relief Services have first-hand knowledge of the risk and expense of cyber attacks. The multinational nonprofit organization offers assistance to 130 million people in more than 110 nations, aiding in the distribution of vaccines, and relief efforts in Haiti and areas hit by Tropical Storm Elsa.
Catholic Relief Services discovered in 2017 that it was susceptible to a hack as a result of an incident in Central Africa that revealed people's financial, geographic, and personal information. Then, earlier this year, the Nobelium email-based attack targeted NGOs all around the world. Although Catholic Relief Services was not specifically targeted, Joel Urbanowicz, the organization's director of digital workplace services, described both incidents as wake-up calls that prompted them to increase their investment in cybersecurity and work with Microsoft on a unified, comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.
With the implementation of multi-factor authentication, cloud app security, and other measures, they have significantly improved their security posture overall. However, Urbanowicz agrees that the problem is always changing and is difficult for any group to address, particularly with limited resources.
The new cybersecurity services are appreciated by Catholic Relief Services. We must recognize areas where we might improve, according to Urbanowicz. "Yes, dealing with cybersecurity is difficult and there is a lot to do, but it is vital. Starting with one item, mastering it, and then moving on to the next is the greatest strategy for dealing with this.”
We must all help nonprofit organizations as they address the world's most pressing needs. Despite the overwhelming need, volunteers, partners, donors, and workers continue to achieve wonderful things.
We'll keep supporting nonprofit organizations so they can concentrate on fulfilling their missions without sacrificing organizational security.
For more information:
• Learn more at Microsoft’s Security Program for Nonprofits page
• Read our newly-published e-book Strengthen your Nonprofit’s Digital Security: Protect your Data and Build Trust
• Register for Microsoft’s upcoming security webinar on November 10: “Introducing the Security Program for Nonprofits”
• Learn more about Catholic Relief Services
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