Why Cybersecurity Should Be Every Association’s Top Priority

8th July 2024

Boardroom Chief Editor Remi Deve explains why cybersecurity should be at the top of every association's list.

In March 2023, the American Bar Association (ABA) experienced a cybersecurity incident where hackers gained access to older credentials affecting approximately 1.46 million members. 

This is not an isolated incident. In fact, we hear more and more about associations getting breached, their data compromised and the trust of their members shaken. This is a phenomenon that has been observed with increasing frequency, revealing a shift from viewing cybersecurity as merely a technical issue to recognising it as a core component of association management.

Associations, rich with extensive networks and sensitive information, are becoming targets. The data managed—ranging from personal contact details to professional histories and financial information—is highly valuable to cybercriminals. The consequences of an attack extend beyond immediate financial loss to long-term reputational damage, which can be particularly devastating for organisations built on trust.

Acknowledging these risks is the first step. Associations need to adopt proactive measures to safeguard themselves. Conducting regular risk assessments to spot and address vulnerabilities, establishing updated and comprehensive cybersecurity policies, and educating staff about potential cyber threats are crucial.

Investing in robust cybersecurity technologies is also a good thing. Tools like advanced anti-virus software, firewalls, or intrusion detection systems can significantly reduce the impact of cyber incidents. However, technology alone is insufficient. Cultivating a culture of cybersecurity awareness is equally important. Creating environments where updates on the latest threats are shared openly can empower every individual within the organisation to act defensively against potential threats.

Yet, perhaps the most effective tool you have against cyber threats is collaboration. By sharing knowledge and strategies with other associations, consulting cybersecurity experts, and engaging in ongoing dialogues, you can strengthen your defenses and tailor solutions to meet your unique needs… and make the most of your vision and mission in the process.

Ultimately, integrating stringent cybersecurity measures into operational strategies is not merely advisable; it’s essential. It defines an association’s resilience and capacity to maintain the trust of its members. Leaders should prioritise cybersecurity today to protect their communities tomorrow.

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