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Microsoft touts new cyber security help for nonprofits

Free training, security assessments, and access to tools given to strengthen charities’ security posture

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Microsoft has launched a new suite of tools and training to help nonprofit organizations defend themselves as attacks by nation-state hackers on them increase.

Its new Microsoft Security Program for Nonprofits comprises three parts: its AccountGuard Program, free security assessments, and free training for admins and end-users.

Microsoft VP of Tech for Social Impact Justin Spelhaug said nonprofits themselves are increasingly at risk due to a worldwide rise in cyber crime.

“While this impacts all sectors and organizations, nonprofits are often perceived as vulnerable because they may not have adequate resources to safeguard the data they need to operate – impacting everyone from donors to program participants to volunteers,” he said.

He added that Microsoft’s 2021 Digital Defense Report confirmed that cyber crime has grown in scale and sophistication in the past year, leveraging crises to take advantage of at-risk targets.

"The report highlights that, in the past year, NGOs and think tanks were the second most targeted sector by cybercriminals, accounting for 31% of all notifications of nation-state attacks against organizational domains as detected by Microsoft,” he added.

The program’s AccountGuard will notify organizations when their Microsoft 365 organizational accounts or staff and board members’ personal Outlook and Hotmail accounts are targeted or compromised by sophisticated nation-state actors.

It will also offer free security assessments to nonprofit organizations to help them better understand the vulnerabilities in their existing endpoints, identity access, infrastructure, network, and data to support and prioritize an immediate action and remediation plan to better protect their environment from any imminent risk

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Lastly, it will streamline its recommended training courses for nonprofits, regardless of role. 

“Employees from any background now can learn the latest strategies to protect themselves from online scams and attacks, and work from home more securely,” said Spelhaug.

He added that nonprofit organizations are attractive targets for nation-state actors because they often store sensitive data. Although cybercriminals attempt to access government and nonprofit databases every 39 seconds, up to 70% of charity networks lack a comprehensive vulnerability assessment to determine risk, according to the 2021 Cybersecurity Guide for Nonprofit Organizations.

“We continue to stand with nonprofits so they can focus on accomplishing their missions without compromising organizational security,” added Spelhaug.

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