Protect Your Association from Cybercriminals

These best practices and established solutions will keep your systems secure and on the cutting edge.

By Erin Lemons, Senior Director of Marketing at Fonteva & Protech

There are numerous reasons associations should switch from proprietary or legacy AMS systems to association platforms built upon trusted cloud business solutions like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics 365. The benefits of doing so include simplified tech stacks, increased scalability, optimized operations, reduced costs, revenue growth, and better member and customer engagement.

These factors are substantial on their own. But the most compelling reason to trade in legacy systems for platform-based solutions has to do with survival.

Dirk Behrends, Vice President, Association Solutions, Fonteva & Protech, said that while many associations are risk-averse when it comes to adopting new technology, the real risk is running on legacy systems that aren’t backed by the security of trusted cloud platforms like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics 365.

That’s because associations can’t afford to ignore the devastating financial and reputational impacts of cybersecurity breaches associated with aging, often cobbled-together proprietary systems — systems that cybercriminals specifically target due to inadequate security measures.

“Security should be top of mind,” Behrends said. “If you’re not using state-of-the-art Azure or Salesforce-hosted facilities, you may not be protected.”

A lack of cybersecurity protection comes at a high cost. According to the latest report from the Ponemon Institute and IBM, the average cost of a data breach in 2021 was $4.24 million—a 10 percent increase from 2019. Based on nearly 550 real-life breaches, the report considers several cost factors, including “legal, regulatory, and technical activities, loss of brand equity, customer turnover, and drain on employee productivity.”

On the Shoulders of Giants: Leverage Existing Investments in Security

Next-generation association platforms are designed to make management easier while safeguarding organizations from security challenges—both now and in the future. For example, Protech, built on Microsoft, and Fonteva, powered by Salesforce, are association-specific solutions that manage a full range of association business operations while leveraging the security of the world’s top cloud platforms.

“It’s the unknown that keeps association leaders up at night; they’re thinking about what they will face in 2023 or 2028,” said Jake Fabbri, Chief Marketing Officer at Togetherwork. “The difference between a legacy system and a true cloud platform is that Salesforce and Microsoft invest billions every year to keep their systems secure and on the edge of innovation. With a true cloud platform, you’ll have access to whatever technology and features that you need to stay relevant in 2028.”

Believing that “success is built on trust,” Salesforce offers transparent, real-time information on the performance and security of its core system. The company also issues alerts for the latest phishing and malware attempts, which hackers design to steal sensitive information or damage computer systems, respectively.

To supplement this data, the company offers guidance on security best practices, such as the use of multi-factor authentication (MFA), which enhances login security through extra protection against unauthorized access to accounts. (As a matter of security, Salesforce requires all customers to enable MFA when accessing Salesforce-based products.)

Similarly, the Microsoft Trust Center provides users with information on “specific policies, operational practices, and technologies that help ensure the security, compliance, and privacy of data across Microsoft services.” For example, Microsoft secures data at rest through a range of encryption capabilities and via encrypted transport protocols while in transit.

Whether built on Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics 365, modern association platforms allow users to become part of a more robust technological environment that puts the latest security tools within reach.

And, because they are delivered through a Software as a Service (SaaS) model, associations don’t have to worry about the vulnerabilities inherent in hosted applications and on-premises servers. SaaS software resides in a secure cloud environment only, where it is automatically updated, patched, and maintained.

Security Assessments and Education

If you’re unsure whether your current association technology can keep up with today’s rapidly evolving security and technical landscape, ongoing assessments can help identify gaps between your existing technology and modern association platforms.

This quiz at, for example, empowers associations to determine where limitations lie, whether they are accessing the benefits of a true cloud solution, and how prepared they are for the future. also offers unbiased blogs, ebooks, and webinars that will help leaders select the enterprise business cloud provider and software platform that is right for them.

In early 2021, Togetherwork acquired Fonteva, a platform solution built on the robust capabilities of Salesforce. Toward the end of 2021, Togetherwork acquired Protech, an association platform solution built on Microsoft Dynamics 365. Through, Fonteva and Protech educate the industry on technology that empowers associations to deliver a modern member experience.

(Handout photo)