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SECRC calls on charities to strengthen their cyber defences after local charity suffers cyber attack

The Cyber Resilience Centre for the South East (SECRC) is a police-led, not for profit partnership that sees Thames Valley Police, Hampshire Constabulary, Sussex Police and Surrey Police come together with local academia, and private industry, to help protect businesses in the South East region from cybercrime.

The SECRC is warning local charities to be vigilant and take extra steps to help keep cyber criminals out of their organisation. This comes after the Cyber Security Breaches 2021 survey, which is published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport revealed that in the last 12 months 26% of charities had been hit by a form of cyber-attack.

Among the 26% identifying any breaches or attacks, 79% had phishing attacks, where attackers attempt to obtain sensitive data by pretending to be a trustworthy source, have been the most common threat, 23% were impersonated and 17% had malware (including ransomware).

Unfortunately, one not-for-profit organisation located in the South East who provide support services to children and young people is yet another charity that has been targeted by cyber criminals.

The organisation was notified by the security settings within their website that an unverified user had attempted to login to their website. Thankfully, this organisation had the right settings in place to alert them of attempted unauthorised access and were provided with guidance and services to secure their website further.

While it is tempting to think it cyber-attacks only happen to high-profile, high turnover businesses and charities, research shows that regardless of the size and complexity of your organisation, anyone can be targeted.

Head of Cyber and Innovation for the South East, Detective Inspector Chris White, said: "Charities often run on the trust and confidence of their supporters for the money they raise. Whilst it’s hard to believe that anyone would target a person who is trying to raise money for a good cause, sadly cyber criminals are ruthless and do not care about the victim.

"There are some simple measures that not only safeguard you, but protect your systems as well. Many people don’t know these facilities exist and just need help with the activation. The example really highlights how simple measure protected what could have been a huge disruption not only to the charity but those who rely on their provisions in times of crisis.

“Charities can help keep their supporters from falling victim by providing the right guidance and that’s where the Cyber Resilience Centre for the South East can help. We offer a free membership that is specifically designed to help to protect small companies and charities in the region from cyber-crime.

"Our free core membership offers charities and companies access to cyber safety guidance, exercises, and toolkits, as well as regular updates on the latest threats. We also have a team of cyber security professionals who are ready to deliver our range of cyber services that are designed to focus on individual areas of cyber resilience.

“Each centre is led by two serving police officers who understand that cyber security services can be expensive, and charities need to watch every single penny they spend. As police officers, we are here to help and want to extend this help and support to charities of all sizes across the region, just get in touch with us so that we can help you to build a bespoke package of support.”

“If you need further support, we have membership packages for larger charities too, so there is something for everyone. Cyber-attacks really are a case of when and not if, so let us help you in the fight against them.”


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