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Microsoft Launches Security Program for Nonprofits

Microsoft on Thursday announced a new program for nonprofits that provides a suite of real-time monitoring and protection tools.

The new offering, called Security Program for Nonprofits, is looking to help further protect those organizations that are "a lifeline to some of our most vulnerable communities," according to Justin Spelhaug, Vice President of Tech for Social Impact, Microsoft Philanthropies, in a blog post.

Spelhaug said that due to the financial nature of nonprofits, they may not have the resources to combat increased cybercrime activity. "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."

According to Spelhaug, cybercriminals attempt to access nonprofit and government databases once every 39 seconds, and most (70 percent) do not have the security infrastructure or procedures in place to determine and combat risk.

Thursday's announcement is an attempt to curb that trend by offering qualifying organizations monitoring and alerting tools to safeguard against nation-state attacks, resources for IT training, and personalized organizational insights.

With support from the partner community, Microsoft will offer nonprofits free security assessments for current networks and provide guidance in immediate actions that organizations can take to strengthen their security efforts. The company mentions security and nonprofit experts, including Risual, Readapt, MOQdigital and Open Systems, as helping in these efforts. Qualifying companies can sign up now for an assessment that Microsoft says should take less than five days.

The company will also be including Microsoft AccountGuard for Nonprofits, which notifies Outlook, Hotmail and Microsoft 365 users if they are targeted by nation-state attacks. This will also be free to all eligible nonprofits. This service was originally launched during the 2018 U.S. midterm elections for political organizations. Since then, it's been extended to the health care, journalism and human rights industries. Thursday's move further extends the service to the nonprofit sector.

Finally, Microsoft will help guide IT towards training paths, again with leveraging the partner community. Spelhaug said that Microsoft will be able to find the right training for each individual – no matter their technical skill or knowhow. This includes a mix of on-demand training opportunities, virtual live events and an online database of security articles aimed at the nonprofit sector.  

This last offering dealing with training will be crucial for many nonprofits. According to a study by NTEN, 59.2 percent of respondents said their nonprofit does not offer any cybersecurity training and, if they do offer training, 31.4 percent said it's not mandatory.

Microsoft is aiming to support 10,000 organizations in the first year and 50,000 by the end of the third. All offerings through the Security Program for Nonprofits are now available for those who qualify.

About the Author

Chris Paoli (@ChrisPaoli5) is the associate editor for Converge360.

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