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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Top Scottish charity compromised by cyber-attack as data is dumped on dark web

This news post is over 2 years old

Emails and phone lines have been affected as well as 12GB of personal data

Police are investigating a “devastating” and sophisticated cyber-attack at the Scottish Association of Mental Health (SAMH).

Emails and phone lines have been affected by the attack which has left the organisation struggling to manage its vital support services across Scotland.

SAMH had posted a notice on its website on Friday that its digital communications were being compromised before a second post yesterday confirmed it was subject to a sophisticated cyber-attack.  

Cybersecurity researcher Sofiane Tahiri first revealed the attack after discovering 12GB of SAMH’s data on the dark web.

The data included sensitive personal information such as names, addresses, email addresses and passport information.

Cybercriminal gang RansomEXX has since claimed responsibility, adding the charity to an extensive list of victims online.

RansomEXX has previously been used in a number of high-profile breaches, including attacks against government systems in both the United States and Italy.

Billy Watson, chief executive at SAMH, said: “We are devastated by this attack. It is difficult to understand why anyone would deliberately try to disrupt the work of an organisation that is relied on by people at their most vulnerable.  

“Our priority is to continue to do everything we can to deliver our vital services. My thanks to our staff team who, under difficult circumstances, are finding ways to keep our support services running to ensure those they support experience as little disruption as possible. 

“We are working closely with various agencies including Police Scotland - this is an active investigation.   

“We will continue to take the best expert advice to assist us in effectively dealing with this situation.”

Police said the attack on the Glasgow-based charity happened last Thursday.

"Inquiries are at an early stage and we are providing support to those affected," a spokeswoman said.

SCVO has produced guidance relating to cyber security - it and a range of helpful links can be found here.