While reviewing articles for this month’s Best of The Web, it occurred to me that, considering it’s only 25 days old, this has already been a busy year. There’s so much technology news these days that it can be difficult to keep up, even for those of us whose job it is to try.

Reading through headlines about the new Google Grant requirements for nonprofits using AdWords to recently discovered security risks that might affect the majority of our computers and mobile devices, I kept asking myself one simple thing: “What does this mean for me?” I’m sure I’m not alone.

So I thought I’d dedicate this month’s Best of the Web to trying to answer that question. Here goes…

What Your Nonprofit Needs To Know About Google’s New Ad Grants Requirements

When Google said it would impose new requirements upon nonprofits enrolled in its popular AdWords Grants program, a lot of small nonprofits began to worry. AdWords is a powerful tool, but implementing and maintaining it requires some ongoing effort and a steep learning curve. If you’re in the program, as of January 1, Google expects you to do more to retain the $10,000 in free ads you’re offered each month.

The experts say those requirements will ultimately pay off by leading to higher quality ads and engagement, but for small nonprofits without staff to dedicate to AdWords, there’s a risk of losing their grants. What do those requirements look like, and how can you make sure you’re in compliance? Aine Creedon has the scoop.

What Your Nonprofit Needs To Know About Facebook’s New Algorithm

Google is not the only corporation to announce changes. In the wake of criticism for spreading “alternative facts” and new research indicating that its site may be negatively affecting the mental health of its users, Facebook recently said it will change the algorithm that decides what people see in their News Feeds yet again. This time, it will shift priority away from posts from commercial entities, including nonprofits and publications, in favor of more “personal” posts from family and friends.

As a result, you’re likely to see more pictures of babies and lunches, and possibly more politically aggravating posts from that one uncle—you know who I mean. But how will it affect your organization’s ability to engage on the channel?

What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know About the Microprocessor Security Flaws

If you read, watch, or listen to any kind of news at all, you’ve probably heard about the security vulnerabilities discovered in the microprocessors used by most of the world’s computers. Given the villainous names of “Meltdown” and “Spectre,” these flaws may put devices using those processors at risk. The Progressive Technology Project says that “using these vulnerabilities, an attacker with access to a computer or server (including remote access) can read information used by other programs on the computer or server.”

But how does it affect you or your organization? The following articles will bring you up to speed and let you know what steps you can take to protect yourself:

What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know About The Password Manager Vulnerability

As our lives move increasingly online, we start to collect passwords—websites, online banking, Amazon, email, CRMs, you name it—and for many of us, keeping track of them all is nearly impossible. Maybe you’re using a password manager like LastPass to manage yours? You should be, and your staff should be using one to protect your nonprofit’s computers and the data they contain. But many of us are just as likely to use the lightweight versions built into nearly every web browser.

Targeted ads are a powerful way to reach and engage an audience, and you, my friend, are an audience for someone—if you’re online at all, you’re being targeted with ads by marketers, vendors, and other commercial enterprises, even nonprofits. These ad targeters have figured out a way to trick browser-based password managers into revealing information about you.

How does this vulnerability work, how does it affect you, and what can you can do about it? Russell Brandom tells you all about it at The Verge.

What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know About IT Security

How do you keep your nonprofit’s data safe? What are the most important steps you can take to protect your staff and the people you serve from online security threats? We’ve written reports on this topic, and still have barely scratched the surface. Computer security is a multi-billion dollar industry filled with experts and organizations dedicated to trying to keep ahead of the latest and greatest threats. While it’s not possible for small nonprofits to employ the same rigorous, cutting edge defenses, common sense can go a long way toward prevention.

In this post, our friends at Tech Impact nutshell a few simple steps you can take to secure your network.

And, finally…

What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know About the Hawaii Missile Alert

On Saturday, January 13, residents and tourists in the Hawaiian islands received alerts on their mobile devices letting them know that ballistic missiles were inbound. THIS IS NOT A DRILL, they said, and it wasn’t a drill—it was a mistake, one caused by human error. But for more than half an hour, this transmission went uncorrected, sowing panic and fear. As a thought exercise, Kim Flaherty considers what we can learn about error prevention and user design from the experience in this interesting post.

See you next month!


P.S. Thank you to everyone who sent me suggestions for this month’s roundup of links. As always, if you come across something you think would be a good fit for the Best of the Web, send it to me at info@idealware.org.