JOINT CYBER-CRIME CONFERENCE HELPS CHARITIES
PROTECT AGAINST CYBER-ATTACK
A cyber security conference organised by Tom Floyd DL, the High Sheriff of Hampshire and Chairman of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation (HIWCF) was held at St John’s House in Winchester on 10th November 2016. The event was a joint initiative between Action Hampshire, HIWCF, Hampshire Constabulary, Fixers, Southampton University and Vermont to help smaller charities and voluntary organisations protect themselves against the threat of cyber-crime. Over 70 participants attended from organisations across Hampshire, with a closing speech by the Mayor of Winchester Cllr Jane Rutter.
In 2014, £1.2 billion of direct debit donations were made to charity, providing a huge temptation to criminals perceiving charities and voluntary groups to be an easy target. Smaller voluntary organisations and community groups don’t often have the financial or staff resources to protect themselves against cyber-attack and can find their customer database held to ransom, their website forced offline or they may suffer loss of access to emails or business-critical data. The impact on charities following a cyber-attack can be immense, involving loss of funds, valuable staff resources wasted trying to resolve the situation, and donors potentially losing their trust in that organisation.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics indicate that fraud and computer misuse accounting for 5.8 million crimes in 2015 and showed a further sharp increase in the first half of 2016. Detective Chief Superintendent Ben Snuggs is responsible for Cyber-Crime, Digital Investigation and Intelligence at Hampshire Constabulary and gave an insight into the world of cyber-crime, explaining that in order to defend your organisation, mind-set is absolutely key. Staff must be willing and prepared to protect themselves through adequate training and regular auditing of systems, update of software patches, reporting of suspicious activities. Implementation of Cyber-Essentials, a scheme designed by the Government, will help to prevent the most common types of cyber-attack.
As new technology emerges, single minded criminals are adept at quickly exploiting any vulnerabilities. Neil MacEwan of Southampton University presented a case study on a recent cyber-attack against event organisers Action Hampshire, where access to vital business data was only unlocked once a ransom of almost £500 had been paid to faceless cyber-criminals.