Robbie Ross says cyber criminals do not distinguish between charities and businesses when planning attacks
Cyber security has posed a threat for a number of years, with many of us falling victim to online crime, in both a personal and professional capacity.
As the UK went into a lockdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many organisations transitioned to remote working. Unfortunately, cyber criminals have seen this as an opportunity to attack businesses across the globe, using sophisticated and innovative tactics to target the most vulnerable, including charitable organisations.
When cyber criminals are scanning for opportunities, they are looking for weaknesses and open doors. At Converged Communication Solutions, we want to help charities close as many of these doors as possible and allow them to focus on the incredible work they do.
Online criminals do not distinguish between charities and businesses, and charities have what they want – namely data and access to money. Unlike many large businesses, charitable organisations do not have the same expensive software or IT knowledge, which is why it is so important that charities get the security and protection basics right.
Statistics from the UK Government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2020 shows that 26% of charities suffered a cyber attack in the last year, with more than half reporting they were “negatively impacted”.
Unfortunately for larger charities, those which have earnings of more than £500,000, 57% fell victim to a cyber-attack.
Charities have it within themselves to improve their cyber security, even with very limited resources and little to no budget. However, it is up to us as an industry to share our expertise and provide the practical tools they need, to have confidence in their own ability to protect themselves and the wider organisation.
Part of this involves us breaking down the barriers which exist, especially around lack of technical know-how. We need to correct the misconception that cyber security is a specialist only remit - it is not.
Research produced by GCHQ, BIS and CPNI in a report entitled ’10 Steps to Cyber Security’, highlights that once organisations learn the basics, they could be protected against up to 80% of known attacks.
Another barrier is the cost of implementing cyber security. However, many of the steps charities can take to better protect themselves are completely free or low cost.
In recent months, we have worked closely with Scottish science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) charity, TechFest, which highlighted knowledge gaps in online security for charitable organisations.
With a passion to improve safety and raise awareness of threats, we have created a free webinar in partnership with TechFest. Not only do we want to provide advice to charities around what they can do to better protect themselves, but we also want to point out that many of these things are straightforward, and inexpensive to achieve.
Charities which don’t know where to start with cyber security are encouraged to sign up for our webinar ‘Cyber Security Basics for Charities – a chance to learn, question and build cyber confidence’.
In Scotland, charities have some great resources available to help them on their cyber journey, including the Scottish Business Resilience Centre and the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. Both organisations provide a range of cyber security services for businesses and organisations across Scotland.
With just a bit of education and support, we can make it much tougher for cyber criminals to get past security systems and safeguard both data and much-needed funds. The free webinar is taking place on Wednesday 24 February at 10. 30am. You can sign up here.
Robbie Ross is chief security officer at Converged Communication Solutions