Nonprofit leaders should be involved in risk management

June 28, 2013

Nonprofit leaders should be involved in risk management

IT professionals are brought on at nonprofit organizations to help decision-makers learn how to take advantage of technological innovations, as well as keep critical information safe from cybercriminals. However, neglecting to actively take part in risk management could be a major mistake for nonprofit leaders. According to new research from security software provider Tripwire and the Ponemon Institute, only 29 percent of IT professionals stated their employer has a strategy for preventing potential risks that is utilized throughout the organization.

"There's a big gap between risk-based security program commitment and how organizations are actually operating," said Elizabeth Ireland, vice president of product marketing for Tripwire.

Risk management is of the utmost importance
Cybersecurity is increasingly important to today's nonprofits as the number of threats continues to grow. Decision-makers understand the need for preventative measures, as 88 percent and 78 percent of respondents stated protecting intellectual property and reducing non-compliance among employees, respectively, are key objectives of their risk-based security initiatives.

Nonprofits that expose their security infrastructure to data breaches can be drained of their funds and not be able to contribute to their intended cause. This is why top leaders have to be involved in how the organization deals with risk.

Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, said IT professional handle risk-based security management, but if organizations truly want to limit their potential for a data breach and have a secure cloud environment for their team, leaders need to take a proactive role in limiting potential threats.

Ponemon added top decision-makers really have no choice but to take a bigger stance in decreasing risks at their organizations, or else they can run into real trouble.

Nonprofits have to look out for certain risks
While nonprofits operate similarly to many businesses, the risks they may potentially encounter are somewhat different. An article for The NonProfit Times pointed out some of the main problems organizations should be sure to defend against:

  • Social media negligence: Nonprofits should use social media to gain a greater following, not damage their reputation with potential donors. Being the victim of a hack has proven to be harmful.
  • Loss of funds: A strong board of investors will limit the amount of money organizations can lose when they run into problems.
  • Insider fraud: While many nonprofits aim to build a trusted team of employees, some organizations have experience internal theft among staff members.
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