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5 data security questions to ask before buying grant management software

by Optimy
May 17, 2023 - Reading time: 5min
5 data security questions to ask before buying grant management software

Consolidating your data in a secure cloud environment leads to an immediate improvement in data security by providing a modern digital infrastructure. This is valuable for both cybersecurity and data protection compliance.

Many organizations are concerned about the data security of donor and grantee information. The possibility of data breaches is a reality that many organizations are facing, and you must take steps to protect your data, and your organization, from risk. 

Here are five data security questions to ask before choosing grant management software for your organization.

1. How sensitive is the data in the grants management system, and how is it being secured?

Managing grants is all about managing money and sensitive information. Whether it is the private data of grantors, grantees, or data about your operations, you would not want an unauthorized person to have access to sensitive or confidential data from your grants management system. This is why you need to be aware of how your data is being secured.

All data transferred, whether on the public interface or the administration interface, should be encrypted using HTTPS. To ascertain that non-secured channels cannot be used to transport your data, a Strict Transport Security (HSTS) policy should also be implemented. While it is critical to have your data secured through those systems, one must know that the weakest links are most often the end-users of your grants management tool. 

2. Does the grants software provider train your team about cyber fraud?

While cloud platforms are getting ever more secure, the main risk often comes from human error. Unfortunately, your employees can be the origin of security breaches because of increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity threats such as phishing attacks.

Thus, they must be trained to understand the signs of attempted online fraud and the fallout of a security breach. Some companies approach cybersecurity training as a box to tick, generally for budgetary reasons or because management underestimates the risk of a data breach.

As a user of a grant management tool, you should define the period of time to store sensitive data and set it up in the tool, among other details. Having your employees trained to detect suspicious activities is a great asset to avoid having your foundation’s sensitive data “out in the wild”.

3. What data security and privacy regulations does your grants management platform comply with?

Different countries have different data privacy laws. Europe has been a pioneer in enacting data-safety rules with the General Data Protection Regulation. It is safe to say that companies compliant with GDPR are most likely also compliant with other local legislation.  

GDPR mandates that individuals own their data, not the companies that process it. Data privacy is a right for all EU citizens. In a nutshell, this means that personal data must be protected and citizens should be able to access their data and modify or erase it. European citizens can also withdraw their consent at any time if they wish to do so.

If you are operating in the EU, you must ensure that your organization will be GDPR compliant at any time.

4. What cloud services does the solution provider use?

Being aware of the cloud applications your grants management system operates with or the type of data managed by them is fundamental.

Make sure that your grant software provider continuously deploys great efforts to meet the highest cybersecurity standards. Look for secure cloud hosting, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), which, among others, meets the certifications ISO 27001, PCI DSS Level1, and SSAE 16. Additionally, if you operate in Europe, all your data should be stored in Europe.

5. What measures has the software provider put in place to avoid data breaches?

Data breaches are the last thing you want to happen. They impact your organization’s reputation and your ability to carry out your social impact initiatives. Companies using grants management systems should invest in penetration testing to ensure a data breach never happens.

You can take steps to prepare yourself and external collaborators for potential hacking attempts, whether it is the encryption of your data, your grantees’ privacy, certified cloud platforms, or the training of grants managers.

If you are curious about other actions you can take and would like to know more about how to make your data safe, we’re here to help. Contact us today!

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