5 Reasons Why Charities are Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks

11 Dec

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Charities continue to see a growing need for their services due to the ever-increasing number of needy people in society. Like other organizations, they have embraced IT in a bid to offer better services. This means they also have the challenge of having to deal with cyber attacks. In comparison to other organizations, charities are a soft target to cyber criminals due to the nature of their operations. Here are 5 reasons why cyber criminals can easily attack charities.
1. Information
In nature, charities serve vulnerable individuals or communities. Hence, they have a treasure trove of valuable information about people under their care or outside entities such as donors. Such information can be of great interest but not available to individuals outside the organization. Cyber criminals may compromise IT systems in a bid to steal the information or alter it to get benefits. For instance, they may attack the organizations to steal credit card information and use it to make fraudulent transactions.
2. Funds
While cyber criminals primarily attack businesses, charities are the latest victims due to their access to donor funds from various sources. For instance, they may receive a huge amount of donor money during of immediately after a crisis. The huge volume of transactions predisposes the organizations to hackers or other cyber criminals who may try to break into their systems in a bid to steal the money. The belief that they are not targets to cyber criminals leads to laxity on security, further exacerbating the problem.
3. Old or Insufficient Equipment
Charities largely rely on donations from benevolent individuals or organizations. Other than funds, they receive donations in form of computers and other equipment. In most cases, people give up computers to charity when they no longer need them. This means that charities are most likely to receive outdated computers and other IT equipment. Technology rapidly evolves and newer systems are secured against past and anticipated threats. Therefore, use of outdated or illegal software and hardware greatly exposes these organizations to potential cyber criminals. Additionally, staff may come to work with their own devices in a bid to supplement limited resources in the organizations. Some staff members may copy valuable data to their own devices and use it for illegal purposes. In another way, staff members may lose their portable devices along with sensitive data.
4. Lack of Skills
Charitable institutions mostly hire volunteers since they cannot afford to pay highly skilled professionals. For this reason, staff in the IT department may not be knowledgeable on ways of countering latest cyber attacks. Additionally, lack of industry regulation means that charities do not have a benchmark for cyber security. This may lead to adoption of insufficient or vulnerable security measures.
5. Data Storage
Once an organizations decides to computerize its operations, it has to contend with data storage issues. On-site data storage is cheaper but less secure than off-site options. Storing data off-site, such as on clouds, often costs a considerable amount of money depending on the hosting company and the amount of disk space required. Since charities operate on lean budgets, they may have to store data on-site, making it prone to theft or accidental destruction.

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Posted by on December 11, 2014 in Resources


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