by Glenn C. Koenig, webmaster at Town Wide Mall
Maynard MA - Many volunteer community groups face a hidden hazard when it comes to their online presence. Often, small organizations depend on one or two individuals to maintain their group’s domain name, web site, e-mail, or social media accounts. However, one simple factor is often overlooked: Making sure that more than one member has saved the “keys” to these accounts, such as names of vendors, account names, passwords, and methods of payment, if any.
With today’s complex password requirements, two factor authentication, and personal security backup questions, trying to recover from a loss of such information can be a daunting task! The Friends of the Assabet River Rail Trail is a recent example of what can go wrong. Within a single year, two members of the group passed away. Soon, things stopped working and none of the remaining members had the information to log in. They are still in the process of trying to bring everything back up. Even now, the group’s official web site, arrtinc.org, brings up a “403.14” error message, instead of the group’s web page content. Fortunately, their facebook page still appears, but the most recent post is from May of this year.
Perhaps this may seem to be an extreme example (the passing of two members in a single year), but other problems such as computer crashes, lost cell phones, or other unexpected events can cause a similar scenario.
These days, the “cat and mouse game” between legitimate users and cyber attackers keeps getting more and more sophisticated, as vendors try to protect their clients’ access to their own data! All the more reason for group members to take appropriate measures before the next crisis occurs.
It’s easy to add levels of security when a vendor asks you to, but it’s not as easy to remember to keep track of the changes you just made and share them with the others in the inner circle who manage your group’s affairs. Having two or even three people keep careful up-to-date records seems prudent.
One of the current board members of the ARRT reminded me of how important it can be for community groups with mostly elderly members to put some work into bringing younger people in. There are a number of reasons for this, including the fact that new members often bring in fresh ideas. Younger people may have a better idea of how to connect the group with more people of different age ranges in the community, as the world of communication and cultural norms has changed so much in the last few decades. If new members begin to share some responsibilities when older members need to step back into more of an advisory role, the organization can stay vital and functioning.
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