Washington, DC - Do you work for a non-profit? Or maybe you’re on the board of a charity or active in a professional or service organization in your community. If so, you know the group collects all sorts of private information, including details about members or people you serve and financial information related to donors. Your own personal information, too, is probably in the group’s records of employees and volunteers. Cyber criminals would love to get their hands on that data. You can help protect the organization by implementing the same common-sense principles that security-centric executives are using at businesses across the country.

And a good source for to-the-point advice is at FTC.gov/Cybersecurity.

At FTC.gov/Cybersecurity you’ll find resources on 12 different topics, including cyber scams like ransomware and phishing, key considerations like physical security and vendor security, and technical guidance on things like email authentication. The new materials reflect the FTC’s experience in the area of data security, privacy protection, and scam prevention, and also reflect the know-how of the SBA, NIST, and Department of Homeland Security. The resources are designed for small businesses, but the same tips and information apply to charities and other non-profits.

The bedrock principle is that if any group – including non-profits – collects information about people, they should protect it. Imagine if donors’ credit cards are exposed because of a phishing scheme, or if the network gets blocked by a ransomware attack. That can be devastating not just for the organization and leaders like you, but also for the communities that rely on the group’s services. To help protect the organization’s network and data, make cybersecurity part of the everyday routine.

You can start with these basic cybersecurity tips:

  • Use security software and set it to update automatically.
  • Back up important files offline, on an external drive or in the cloud.
  • Encourage the organization to have policies covering basic cybersecurity and to train employees and volunteers on those policies.
  • Visit www.FTC.gov/Cybersecurity and share the fact sheet, quizzes and videos with your colleagues.