Wednesday, 22 May 2024
Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Robust Cyber Security for Charities: Protecting Against Attacks

We wanted to talk about cyber security this month as a follow-on to our piece about data protection, as the two matters are intrinsically linked. 

Cyber security is the protection of computer systems, networks and devices from information disclosure and theft of, damage to, or loss of access to their hardware, software or electronic data. In short, it’s about making sure your tech is protected and people’s behaviour is managed to mitigate the risk of cyber attacks.

How common are cyber attacks in the charity sector?

With so many demands on funds and time, using resources to create and implement a cyber security plan when a breach may not happen might seem wasteful, but a cyber attack can cause serious and long-standing issues for charities. 

Criminals know that charities hold a significant amount of sensitive and confidential personal and financial data electronically. The sector is regularly attacked by those who want to steal information about people and money, and they have several methods to gain access to it.

In 2022, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) surveyed charities and measured the scale of the problem. In total, 30% of the 424 charities who responded reported having a security breach in the last 12 months. 

What are the possible impacts of a cyber attack on charities?

The effects of a cyber attack vary from a minor disruption which is not immediately obvious, to complete disasters, the effects of which may be permanent.

Cyber attacks may lead to:

  • Being unable to operate for hours, days or weeks until issues are resolved and processes put in place to prevent a recurrence 
  • Financial costs to bring in experts to recover and restore systems after an attack
  • Damage to your charity’s reputation 
  • Money could be stolen from your charity or supporters’ accounts 
  • Important files could be lost permanently or maybe unrecoverable 

It will never happen to us…

It’s easy to become complacent, but here are some real-life examples of cyber attacks:

  • An attack on an educational charity led to thousands of pupils being unable to access their content after the attackers encrypted it and published data on the dark web. It cost the charity over £500,000 to resolve
  • A religious charity suffered a data breach where criminals accessed employee data and used it to open credit accounts
  • Attackers compromised a housing charity’s emails, imitated a trusted supplier and asked for payments of over £900,000 

Do you need to sharpen up your cyber security?

Our CharityGo cyber security course gives easy-to-understand, practical guidance to increase your charity’s level of protection.  It reiterates the importance of a robust cyber security plan, outlines each of the main threats and how to spot them, plus details top-level actions you need to take in the event of an attack. 

Cybersecurity is one of the topics in our online library of expert-written, ready-made courses for staff and volunteers. Powered by TrainingToolz, subscriptions start at just £25 plus VAT for up to 500 training sessions per month and new clients can benefit from added extras if they sign up before 31 March 2023. For more information and to book a no-obligation discovery call, visit


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