Charities and the Need for Cyber Security

Even with today’s technology and ever-advancing levels of security, cyber-attacks can still occur. And now, more than ever, charities are being urged to protect themselves against a specific type of cyber-attack; ransomware.

The ‘WannaCry’ ransomware, in particular, has been targeting Microsoft Windows since Friday, 12 May 2017. More than 230,000 computers in 150 countries have already been affected. WannaCry demands ransom payments in bitcoin, a type of digital currency, in 28 different languages.

This highlights just how important it is for charities to be protected.

Are Charities at Risk?

It’s not clear yet whether charities are affected by WannaCry, but the truth is that IT systems and existing protection need to be kept updated at all times. After all, according to James Mulhern, chief information security officer at Eduserv, “charities are a big target for cyber criminals because they have valuable data, including personal information which is of huge value to attackers.”

The Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2017 also reveals that almost seven in ten companies identified a breach or attack. Businesses that hold electronic personal data were more likely to suffer from breaches (51%) than those that don’t (37%), which showcases the severity of this issue and why charities need to be protected against cyber-attacks.

The most common attacks occur through fraudulent emails, which try to get staff and consumers to reveal personal information, as well as passwords. Malware and viruses in attachments and links are also common, as is ransomware.

How Can Charities Remain Protected?

Charities can protect themselves by using donated security software, according to Richard Craig, CEO of charity software specialist Technology Trust:

“A lot of the problems have been caused by organisations using legacy systems, predominantly Windows XP, which is no longer supported by Microsoft. It’s understandable that charities try to send as much money through to their cause but this shows what can go wrong if you postpone upgrading. Microsoft donates Windows operating systems to charities so that at least takes a lot of the cost away.”

Backing up systems, having an up-to-date antivirus in place, and investing in high-quality technology can minimise the risks of cyber-attacks. It is also important that staff have the necessary skills to identify an attack or to respond to it, so make sure everyone is trained in cyber security (or has enough knowledge of it).

At Nisyst, we strive to make charities safer than before, be it to prevent ransomware or any other security breaches. We have extensive experience in the way volunteers work and have worked closely with many charity IT departments to advise on and implement best practice at the retail point for greater security. So book a demo or call us on 01204 706 000 and we’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you may have about our technology and to discuss how we can help you to become a safer charity.

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