Posted on March 15 by ITSmart
Microsoft working to safeguard Not For Profit organisations against increasing cyberthreats

One of the things we have learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic is how vital the Not For Profit (NFP) sector is. Across the globe NFPs have stepped forward and offered their services to those who needed it the most.

To achieve this, the NFP sector has had to undertake an accelerated overhaul of their IT systems to cloud technology. In doing this they have also exposed themselves to greater risks of cybersecurity attacks and breaches in sensitive information, including nation-state attacks.

Those that target non-profits are usually fuelled by a sense of activism or what we refer to as ‘hacktivism.’ Joel Portsmouth, Solutions Consultant at It Smart Solutions, says “If an NFP has a certain stance on an issue or cause, hackers who disagree with this viewpoint will target them, with an intent to take them down. They can utilise sensitive information of donors or volunteers to hold NFPs for ransom”.

The Australian Cyber Security Centres (ACSC) annual cyber report claims that over the past 12 months there has been an increase of 13% in cybercrime reported. Over 1500 of these reports were related to the covid-19 pandemic, which equates to approximately 4 reports per day.

These statistics, predicted to continually grow, are not surprising when we know that too often cybersecurity policy is considered as an afterthought for non-profits, with 70% of them unaware of their organisation’s vulnerability

Microsoft has recognised this danger to NFPs and has developed a detection and notification service to assist in protecting against cyberthreats. Microsoft AccountGuard for nonprofits was developed in late 2021 as part of the Microsoft Defending Democracy Program and the Microsoft Philanthropies project. AccountGuard is designed as a “security service to protect sensitive data and build trust by providing unified threat detection and notification across organisational and associated personal accounts in the event of a nation-state attack” says Microsoft.


There is no such thing as “too much security” 


As Microsoft partners, we know how crucial it is to have many layers of defence. Microsoft AccountGuard is free for eligible NFPs. It sits in the background, checking for malicious activity, and has no downtime. Not only will AccountGuard warn you when there has been an attack on your own systems, it will also notify you if another registered NFP has been hacked, so that you can ensure your IT is in order.

When registered with Microsoft AccountGuard, you automatically become part of an online community, looking out for the online safety of each other and making it hard for cybercrimes to perpetuate.

Other benefits of Microsoft AccountGuard for your NFP include:  

  • Access to exclusive cybersecurity workshops and webinars
  • A direct phone line to Microsoft’s Defending Democracy Program team
  • Notification if there has been a breach in another non-profit so you can reinforce your security measures
  • If a compromise is proven, recommendations are sent to the specific organisation to fix the issue such as changing passwords
  • Security guidance specific to those in the non-profit space
  • Improved identity protection features such as access to other discounted Microsoft 365 products and services


A commitment to NFPs on all levels


Having worked with many NFPs, IT Smart Solutions recognises the commitment that Microsoft has made to NFPs’ online security. We also know NFPs have a smaller budget for IT and security. With the amount of digital transformation happening currently, and the fact that Microsoft has made AccountGuard free to eligible registered NFPs, we can’t find a reason not to shine a light on this security service. 

 “Your NFP does not need to have a case of cybercrime happening or a reason to install Microsoft AccountGuard. As your IT team, we use these notifications from Microsoft to work behind the scenes with Microsoft specialists to identify and combat any issues that may affect your NFP. AccountGuard will just keep growing and getting better. Security is an area where you want too much rather than too little. When it is there and it’s free for an NFP it just makes sense to have it,” says Joel. 

Cybersecurity is an important aspect of any organisations considerations towards efficiency and effectiveness. As an NFP, your focus should be on your mission rather than on who is trying to hack your systems. Combining a service such as Microsoft AccountGuard with your IT team gives your organisation more freedom to focus on achieving your goals.


How to register your NFP for Microsoft AccountGuard 


To be eligible for this free Microsoft service, you need to:  

1. Be located in one of the many countries where AccountGuard is available. 

2. Be registered with the ACNC (The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission) meaning that you are legally recognised as a non-profit.

3. Comply with licence restrictions. 

You can find out if your nonprofit is eligible here, and if you need assistance, IT Smart Solutions can register your NFP for you.


Smart Security by IT Smart Solutions


While staying informed is one of your best lines of defence against the threat of cyber-attacks, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) recommends to implement risk mitigation strategies that constitute the Essential Eight, making it much harder for cybercriminals to compromise systems. 

At IT Smart Solutions, we offer advanced security capability that adheres to the Government Essential 8 framework. So if you need help protecting your organisation or assessing your needs, contact our security expert today. 

In the meantime you can also check out our security offering here.