5 Digital Safety Tips for African Nonprofits

There has been an upsurge in the use of digital tools and online platforms by African organisations in the development sector. The use of smart phones, tablets, social media platforms, and cloud enabled services are helping organisations become more efficient and globally connected. However these innovations come with their own set of problems and rules on how to navigate them. From our review of the newly launched guide,  Safe Online, by Nigeria’s leading technology accelerator and social enterprise, Co-Creation Hub, here are Five Digital Safety Tips For Nonprofits.

Secure Passwords

Individuals who have had a problem or have heard someone share their experience of their online accounts being compromised, understand the importance of password safety. Creating a secure password is the most basic step in achieving online security. It is advisable for organizations and individuals to create passwords that have a minimum of 16 characters, including uppercase and lowercase alphabets, numbers and symbols. The Safe Online guide recommends creating a password from a phrase, using the initials of each word, as well as symbols and numbers in the phrase. For example, the phrase  “I Will Definitely Achieve My Goals On Sustainable And Strategic Change in 2017%” would produce this password, “IWDAMGOSASC2017%.” Experts also suggest using a password derived from your  language.

Use a Password Manager

For a lot of organizations, managing different online accounts is a necessity and each of them requires their own unique password. This can be a problem because it means you have to remember the login details for all the accounts, which might not be very feasible. The use of Password Managers, however, resolves that problem. As the guide indicates, Password Managers such as Sticky Pass, Last pass, Key Pass X, and many more, store the login details of your different accounts and helps to fill out all login requirements so that you don’t have to remember or key-in all your different passwords. It just requires the owner of those accounts to remember one password, that is, the login details for the password manager. This helps to create a safe and more convenient way of accessing all your online accounts.

Backup Up and Store Data

Some organizations work with a lot of data and have a database management system that they operate. Losing any of that data can cause serious disruptions which is why adequate storage and regular backup of your data is necessary. Although we have the traditional external hard drive and USB memory drive that can be used to store data, these devices often get lost or damaged, causing many to utilise cloud storage. According to the guide, cloud storage involves data being backed up in remote servers that can be accessed over the internet. There are different softwares and tools that provide this service, and they include the well known Google drive and Dropbox, as well as Mega, Crash Plan and many others. These tools provide a great emergency backup plan, save costs and allow you work from different mobile devices in a on-restrictive manner.

Use Social Media Platforms Cautiously

Social media platforms are great for organisations working to engage people all over Africa and share stories of their impact in local communities.  But, it is often used without adequate safety measures. One thing to note when using social media is to be careful about the content you post. The Safe Online guide recommends that for social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others, additional security verification systems should be applied to the accounts as an additional safety measure. Some mechanisms could include two step verification with a code or activating the account using a phone number. Also, turning on the privacy settings on your accounts help keep your organisation’s information more secure.

Secure File Transfers

The work of nonprofits sometimes involves having information that is sensitive and should be treated securely. In such situations, having a secured means of sending files back and forth within the organization is needed. The guide recommends uploadfile.io which provides this service. The website is membership based and has both free and paid services with their corresponding fees. There are also secure email service providers that give privacy and security when sending emails. Some examples are ProtonMail and Tutanota.  

In addition to online safety and security, the guide provides information on Nigerian technology laws such as cybercrime, intellectual property, and identity theft, and offers tailored digital security information for journalists, bloggers, and developers. To find out more detailed information about your online security, please visit the Safe Online website.

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