Publication Updated 1/4/2018
Good News; Thanks to Google many websites have now corrected flaws in their websites. There are not nearly the number of problem sites as there was two years ago. Thanks Google
There has been recent news about hackers exploiting charity websites for nefarious uses and unfortunately the trend seems to be increasing. More and more, the group as a whole has been targeted, often with consequences that run the gambit from financial hardship and duress to taking away resources that are intended to go to the good charitable work that mon-profts do.
So, why are these attacks happening so frequently?
Hackers attempt to exploit the easiest and least protected systems, because it's the easiest to do. And they have found that as a group charities (non-profits) are often vulnerable targets. The vulnerabilities come from websites that are often not protected as well as they should be and probably receive less attention than the charitable good work (which is their focus ) that is at the core of the foundation. Small organizations, especially non-profits, do not have the resources to afford IT specialists and the people who mostly take care of the website probably have many other responsibilities that need most of their attention. Once in, the hacker then users the website as a way to gain control of the resources, gathering databases and names, and then many times using their server as one of many in their botnet attack network. And they do other harmful things, like having the website display differently in some web browsers where they place links to other websites which they then charge a fee.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of scoundrels on the web. We have seen several websites that do good things compromised.
We advise caution when dealing with any organization's website that has been compromised no matter how good of a charity it is. We understand that this penalizes the foundations that possible do the very best work, however our advice is found on the possibility that you may, through no fault of your own, become exposed to malware yourself, compromising your own computer.
Some common sense information:
First use Google search as a great tool to find out if the website might be compromised. It's easy and quick and offers a great way to do one check without even having to enter the site. You'll find instructions on the right side of this page.
Two major ways malware and viruses are spread. Malicious web pages with harmful scripts and email carrying attachments, even from people that are known, because they probably don't know they have a virus.
If Google does not have a red caution statement, then more than likely the site is probably OK. We have tried to keep abreast of the sites we recommend by doing just that simple test and on rare occasions have found sites that Google warns might be compromised, which we then remove. It's easy and recommended.
Keep your computer's virus software current and do scans occasionally as a precaution. Use strong passwords for all your important accounts and the apply good common sense when opening emails with links from users who you do not know.
Just knowing makes a difference. Take the few minutes and do a Google search of your website. It's easy, it's fast and it's a convenient way to make a quick test.
Donating cars, RVs, boats and trailers help local charities do the great work that they do and we want to encourage you to be part of this experience. We also want charities to be cognizant of the possible threats that hackers pose to their good organizations.
Do your homework, experience and knowledge does make a difference. For everyone.