Give a gift of security to a nonprofit

Portfolio and Wessel Accounting offer free security reviews for nonprofits in 2016

By Laura Haight

There is no way to know for certain how many nonprofits were hacked in 2015 or are in the process of being hacked right now. But many security organizations and cyberthreat analysts believe it is at least as high — if not higher — than the rate for small business.

Like small businesses, nonprofits are disproportionately victimized by fraud and hacking as well as underprotected by controls and detection measures. This assessment from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners is a wake-up call for nonprofits that do not realize how at risk they are. To support the nonprofits serving critical needs in the Upstate, Portfolio and Wessel Accounting are offering to provide their BizSafe Security Review for free to one local nonprofit each month through 2016. 

BizSafe is a scalable tool to help assess, identify and mitigate the veracity of internal controls and security procedures that could be leaving a business or nonprofit vulnerable to hacking, cracking or fraud. The service is jointly provided by Laura Haight, a former IT executive and president of Portfolio, and Kelly Wessel, former director of internal audit for the Greenville Health System and president of Wessel Accounting.

Although periodically news of a hack or exposure of a nonprofit comes to light in the news, there is a shortage of hard data to analyze. Experts like the the ACFE and the Hauser Center for NonProfit Organizations at Harvard University, see this not as a lack of risk but a lack of public reporting. 

In the small business sector both the National Small Business Association and Symantec reported that in 2014 more than 60 percent of small businesses in the US. were hacked. That trend only expanded in 2015, every cyber expert admits. Across the board, the ACFE estimates that 6 percent of revenue for all businesses is lost to fraud or hacking. In many cases, attacks and embezzlement that the business is unaware of. When it comes to cybercrime, the FBI has stated that most businesses have a hacker in their systems for 18 months before they even realize it, and most find out when the FBI comes knocking at their door. 

Experts believe nonprofits are at least as vulnerable - and most more at risk - than other small businesses. In addition to detailed donor databases including names, addresses, donation amounts, banking information and even in some cases credit cards, nonprofits have information about grants given and received, as well as clients they serve. They may have health records or family information. All of these are important data points that hackers or cybercriminals will use to build a profile and hack identities. Additionally, websites are particularly vulnerable because they are often not regularly updated or have support staff to fully monitor their security.

“Kelly and I are very concerned about the vulnerability of nonprofits and we hope that by offering our BizSafe service to some local organizations we can raise awareness about the risks, the availability of solutions and the importance of educating and protecting ourselves, our businesses, our donors and our sustainability,” noted Haight.

You can learn more and nominate your favorite nonprofit by visiting the BizSafe website:

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