Charities must do more to tackle cyber threats, say government study

22 Aug 17

Charities are just as susceptible to cyber attacks as businesses but aren’t taking enough precautions, government research has found.

A report published yesterday by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said the charitable sector urgently needs to improve its awareness of cyber security threats.

The report, Cyber Security among Charities, states that many third sector staff are not well informed about the topic and awareness and knowledge vary considerably across different charities.

Other findings show those in charge of cyber security, especially in smaller charities, are often not proactively seeking information and are relying on outsourced IT providers to deal with threats.

Where charities recognised the importance of cyber security, this was often due to holding personal data on donors or service users, or having trustees and staff with private sector experience of the issue.

Helen Stephenson, chief executive at the Charity Commission for England and Wales, said: “Charities have lots of competing priorities but the potential damage of a cyber-attack is too serious to ignore.

“It can result in the loss of funds or sensitive data, affect a charity’s ability to help those in need, and damage its precious reputation.”

She said charities needed to do more to educate their staff about the threat and invest more resources into improving cyber security.

Minister for digital Matt Hancock, said: “We have world leading businesses and a thriving charity sector but recent cyber attacks have shown the devastating effects of not getting our approach to cyber security right.”

He added: “Charities must do better to protect the sensitive data they hold and I encourage them to access a tailored programme of support we are developing alongside the Charity Commission and the National Cyber Security Centre.”

The report follows the WannaCry ransomeware attack, which hit parts of the NHS earlier this year.

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