A virus can bring your nonprofit to a raging halt when it infects your computer system, forcing your nonprofit to come to a stand-still until your IT staff takes care of the problem. It doesn’t matter how careful you are with your computer networks and systems, there is always a chance that a virus could infect your computer system.
There are ways to prevent viruses and protect your nonprofit’s data and you don’t need a computer science degree to do so. The most important thing you can do is to apply good old-fashioned common sense to your computer use and to teach your team the same simple steps to follow.
Five Tips to Improve Data Security
- Update your software: Have you ever experienced those annoying update notices on your computer that pop up, telling you to update your software? Do not continue ignoring them, but instead run them. Software manufacturers issue updates when there are holes in the software code that have been exploited by hackers to spread viruses and malware. Older software is more vulnerable to problems than newer software and the updates are provided to help prevent and protect your entire system. You could invest in new software, but cloud-based software would be the wisest choice as they offer better security compared to in-house software security.
- Add virus protection: Add an extra layer of protection to your online interactions by having the software scan incoming emails and check websites before allowing you to access them. Some virus codes can be easily picked up just by visiting an infected website. To prevent this, you will need software that can scan sites, so you are not visiting sites that can give your nonprofit a virus.
- Improve passwords: Be sure to change your passwords monthly and make sure your entire team does the same. Instruct them to use complex passwords that include upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Strong passwords incorporate phrases that only the user knows, but that is also hard to crack. It is important to avoid sharing the same password among different systems or websites. If you are hacked, that password can now be used to access any other places that share the password. Also, do not share passwords by email or tape them to your computer or mobile device. This is a recipe for disaster and is practically asking for someone to steal them.
- Switch to the cloud: Cloud-based software, such as Abila MIP Advance, offers excellent data security. Cloud-based systems can protect your data better than most on-site systems. Your data is not only protected behind numerous firewalls, but is also backed up frequently on the cloud.
- Email protection: Hackers use simple tricks to enter systems and it’s mostly due to employee interaction. They can send “change password” emails that look good at a glance, but then provide them with what they need. Hackers can also send emails asking you to click a link to access information or to change passwords. A rule of thumb is to never click links in emails unless you are sure that they came from the company, itself. If you are in doubt, close your browser, open your internet browser again, and enter your website user name and password manually to check on your account. Simple steps, such as these, can save your nonprofit much grief.
Good Data Security Can Prevent Costly Mishaps
Having a data security breach can be financially costly, as well as costly in the terms of customer trust. Nonprofits have been known to spend thousands of dollars just to repair any damage that was caused by the data loss and the compromised data security. Other nonprofits find that they lose customers after a major data breach. Even if the data breach is not your nonprofit’s fault, your customers do not know that. All they see is their data is not safe and that they need to take their business elsewhere. Having good data security can help you keep your customers. You can never guarantee your data will remain secure, but taking these simple precautions can significantly help your nonprofit fund accounting team prevent costly problems later down the road.
RBP Methods is a nonprofit software and consulting firm that helps right-brained people navigate a left-brained world. We want to help you understand cloud-based fund accounting software for nonprofits. Whether you’re interested in AccuFund Nonprofit Accounting Suite, Abila MIP Fund Accounting, Abila MIP Advance, or other accounting software, we offer information, training, and support to help you manage your nonprofit accounting needs. Contact us today or call 503-648-9054 for more information.