Has your nonprofit board put application security on your board agenda? Cybercrime is ubiquitous, and it can cause problems for your nonprofit’s budget and good name. To help your board stay informed on the latest application security measures, we’ve put together 12 best practices to bolster application security for your nonprofit.
What Is Application Security?
Application security refers to all processes that make apps more secure. Security involves finding and fixing security problems and making enhancements to existing security measures. Developers evaluate security according to a lifecycle that includes analysis, design, implementation, maintenance, and verification.
The goal of application security is to improve security practices within your nonprofit’s software applications.
Why Is Application Security Important for Nonprofits?
Your nonprofit likely deals with lots of confidential information including names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. Perhaps you even collect social security numbers and credit card numbers. Criminals are working diligently behind the scenes on ways to steal data and shut down legitimate, helpful organizations like your nonprofit for their own benefit.
If a data breach victimizes your nonprofit, it could cost your organization thousands of dollars and your reputation. Cybercrime is continually getting more sophisticated. Vulnerabilities are even being discovered in production codes in web applications.
With so many nonprofit board directors and staff working from home, the tools and applications your nonprofit’s application users are logging into at home may not be as secure as they should be.
According to Security Boulevard, there are three big reasons why application security is essential:
- To prevent data loss
- To establish application security measures beyond testing
- To implement application security measures to protect your nonprofit’s reputation and minimize losses
Hackers are out there attacking online accounts 2,244 times every day on average. To help you protect your nonprofit, we’ve got some practical tips to help you bolster application security protocols.
12 Best Practices for Nonprofit Application Security
- Test your system. Ask a third party to try to break into your system. If they’re successful, it will help you discover your vulnerabilities.
- Study web application security blogs. Designate a board member or other individual to read up on application security and report findings back to the board.
- Establish a solid data backup plan. If a hacker sabotages your website, you’ll need a backup to quickly get it back up and running.
- Perform security checks and vulnerability scans. Most IT experts recommend performing security scans whenever you make changes to your applications and at least weekly.
- Enlist the help of a security expert. A security expert or security service can perform security audits, run scans, and monitor your applications for vulnerabilities if it’s more than your board can do on its own.
- Implement security practices during the development process. Many developers try to tackle it on the backend, and problems could already be built-in.
- Keep plugins updated. Keep a list of plugins and run updates on them as soon as they’re available.
- Implement security monitoring software. State-of-the-art security software isn’t foolproof, but it will save you time, money, and frustration.
- Use ultra-strong passwords. Password management tools will help you store complex passwords without having to remember them.
- Use two-factor identification. This is also called multiple-step or multiple-factor verification, and it’s a way to verify that one of your nonprofit users is legitimate.
- Set up SSL encryption (HTTPS) for your login pages. It encrypts information so hackers can’t understand it even if they intercept it.
- Choose a secure web host. Don’t take their word for it. Check out their reviews on sites that they’re not connected to view objective comments.
Bolstering Application Security in 3 Places
To ensure your nonprofit has robust all-around security measures in place, you need to have application security measures in the cloud, your website and your mobile application.
Website Application Security
To be clear, website applications refer to apps and services that you access using a browser on the internet. Website applications are not stored locally on desktops or laptops. Instead, they’re stored on remote servers. A web application firewall will help to block harmful data packets.
The cloud often shares resources. Sensitive data is at risk in the cloud because it gets transmitted from users to applications and back via the internet. Take special care to make sure users only have access to the data they need to complete authorized tasks for your nonprofit.
Mobile Application Security
If your nonprofit offers a mobile app for receiving donations or registering for events, you also need to address security risks on your mobile app. Cell phones and tablets also transmit and receive information via the internet. At any time, they could give cyberattackers an opening to tap into your system. Virtual private networks (VPNs) add a layer of application security for mobile devices that individuals use to log into your systems remotely. You might consider enlisting the help of an IT expert to evaluate your mobile app to ensure it has the appropriate security measures.
Security Statistics Your Board Needs to Know
- 94% of malware comes through emails
- 53% of users rely on their memories for typing in passwords
- Over half of people use the same passwords at work as for personal use
- 57% of people don’t change their passwords even after they’ve been scammed
- 23 million users use the password “123456”
- 33% of cyber victims stopped doing business with businesses or websites where their credentials got compromised
Final Thoughts on Application Security for Nonprofits
There’s no question that it’s tough to stay a few paces ahead of nefarious individuals that are out to sabotage your nonprofit.
By following best practices, your board will better protect the sensitive data you need to run your organization. The right application security practices will go a long way toward protecting your organization’s systems and reputation.
With BoardEffect, you can be sure your board management system has the latest security updates to support your nonprofit board’s work.