Friday, April 11, 2008

Taking Nonprofit Network Security Seriously

As reported today by Democracy Now:

Report: Ex-Secret Service Agents’ Firm Spied on Environmentalists

Mother Jones magazine has revealed a private security firm staffed by former Secret Service agents spied on several environmental groups beginning in the late 1990s. The firm, Beckett Brown International, later S2i, stole documents from trash bins, planted undercover operatives within groups such as Greenpeace, collected phone records and spied on meetings. The company has worked for clients including the Carlyle Group, Wal-Mart, Monsanto and Halliburton.

Nonprofit organizations engaged in promoting social justice and environmental protection would do well to take computer network security seriously. Many nonprofits employ inexpensive WiFi networks in small offices and home offices.

Keep in mind that WiFi signals travel far beyond the confines of buildings, out into the street and into other buildings. Electronically breaking into an office may be much easier than physically breaking into it. Accessing sensitive data on your computers may be as easy as working from a parked car on the street, or hacking into a network from the comfort and anonymity of another room in the same building.

In my experience, some nonprofits do not have adequate WiFi network security.

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