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Although cyber attacks are becoming more of a certainty than a possibility, there are still numerous companies and organizations that are not purchasing cyber insurance. In addition, many are not taking proactive measures to protect data such as updating software programs and installing security updates in a timely manner.

Any person or organization with a computer is subject to a cyber attack. Unfortunately, most attackers don't seem to have a conscience when it comes to an attack target. An attack can result in devastating financial loss to an individual and even the largest of companies; however, to a charitable organization it can mean the difference between being able to continue providing services and shutting its doors.

In addition to the purchase of cyber coverage, here are eight tips for how a small business or nonprofit [namely anyone] can respond to cyber security threats:

1. Prioritize Data Security

Make data security a priority for the entire organization. The more costly a breach could be to continuing services, the greater the need to prioritize data security.

2. Upgrade Computers

If computers are using Windows XP or earlier versions, these computers are running outdated software and are more vulnerable to hackers and cyber-attacks.

3. Train Employees [and Yourself] on Cyber Threats

Train employees on how to spot malicious or suspicious emails, to not open links in emails, and to use pop-up blockers on websites. The organization should develop strict policies on the use of the internet, installing new programs and downloading documents, and prevent the use of personal computers and cell phones for organization work.

4. Inform Volunteers [Everyone] of Potential Threat

For anyone having access to the organization's computer systems, they should receive the same training and adhere to the same policies as employees.

5. Password Management

Provide training on creating strong passwords, such as using long phrases and mixing in numbers, letters, and symbols; or use a password manager app.

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6. Update Software or Technology

Understand that the organization's data is only secure to the extent it is protected by the organization itself and its connected third parties. Handle donor information and financial data using reputable, dependable technology systems to secure data. Consider using third-party services that are especially designed for nonprofits, such as Network for Good or Razoo.

7. Secure Cloud Data

When storing data in cloud-based services and storage applications ensure that the data is secure and encrypted, such as restricting the data to authorized users only and encrypting data before entering it into the cloud. In the encryption process, data is turned into ciphertext, which is nearly impossible to figure out without decryption.

8. Keep Informed

With privacy of vital importance in nonprofit organizations, it is imperative that the organization be informed when there are changes in privacy policies and evaluate the way these changes will affect the organization's data security.

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SOURCE - Property Casualty 360 - Excerpt from "The unique risk to nonprofits of a targeted cyber attack" by Karen L. Sorrell, CPCU

Karen L. Sorrell, CPCU, is an editor with FC&S Online, the recognized authority on insurance coverage interpretation and analysis for the P&C industry. It’s the resource agents, brokers, risk managers, underwriters, and adjusters rely on to research commercial and personal lines coverage issues. She can be reached at
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