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Michigan Nonprofit Association Blog

MNA’s Blog is designed to give you, the nonprofit community, an informal look into the issues currently facing Michigan’s nonprofit sector and an opportunity to share tools, resources and best practices. It’s also a way for us to get to know each other a little bit better through candid discussions of the topics, challenges and opportunities that our sector deals with on a regular basis. Check back daily and participate in the discussions by posting a comment or emailing our bloggers. We love hearing from you!

How Safe is Your Organization’s Information?

Protect against today's threats while promoting future growth

The headlines are full of stories of information breaches and other hacks in the corporate sector. These incidents cost companies millions of dollars, and in the case of retailers like Target and Home Depot, they chip away at consumer confidence. Breaches in IT security are also very real for nonprofits. Not having a system for managing your IT security is like not having a plan to secure the financial data of your organization. The truth is that all organizations, both big and small, are at risk. The key is to create and monitor your systems in order to reduce and minimize the risks.

With all the ways that technology can be a tool to help nonprofits manage data, operations, and membership, it can also create challenges if it is not managed properly. If your organization doesn't have a solid IT security strategy, developing one needs to be a top priority.

Highway T is a program of the Michigan Nonprofit Association and has been providing IT advice, planning, and support to Michigan's nonprofit sector since 2001.

Join us on Tuesday, April 14th from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM for a free and open session to ask a Highway T consultant any IT question. You will get straightforward advice aimed at making your IT easier to manage. 

In the meantime, here are some basic tips that all nonprofit organizations need to put in place today:

  • Institute a company password policy for your organization. Set up guidelines for changing the passwords every 30, 60, or 90 days. Require strong passwords that use a mix of words, capital letters, numeric, and special characters. And never use the same passwords more than once in a calendar year.
  • Stay away from recording the passwords by any method that is easily accessible. This means sharing passwords, writing them down, or even saving them in personal cloud storage systems like Google Drive or Dropbox.
  • Keep your anti-virus and your anti-malware software up-to-date on all computers and devices in your organization.
  • Don’t leave your laptop or device in your car for an extended period of time. If you must do this, leave it in the trunk of the car. This is important because if your car were stolen or if your computer were stolen from your car, your data and other important information would be vulnerable to theft.
  • Be mindful of who is around you when using your laptop or device in public spaces, such as coffee shops or hotel lobbies.
  • Remove access to the organization network and passwords of ex-employees immediately.
  • Don’t open email attachments from unknown sources. One of the easiest ways to pass on a malicious computer virus is through an email attachment.
  • Keep control of BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices); that is, personal device access within your organization.
  • Use organization-managed cloud storage for your information. Consumer versions of cloud storage systems such as Google Drive or Dropbox can keep your secure organization information out of your reach and easy to access.
  • Encourage employees to create a passcode for any smart devices that sync up with work emails.
  • Avoid using the “remember me” buttons on sites. Entering your password each time may be time consuming, but it is a good way to help protect your information.

Protect your organization against today's threats while enabling future growth with security solutions from Highway T.

For more information or to schedule a free technology assessment, contact us at info@highwayt.org.

Leon Wilson Leon Wilson is the Senior Director, Technology and Data Engagement at Michigan Nonprofit Association