Charity cybercrime is a growing threat – here’s what you need to know

Untitled design 45 | Charity cybercrime is a growing threat – here's what you need to know
By Toby Lester | 19th February 2020 | 8 min read

In a just world, charities would be safe from being targeted by cybercriminals – after all, they have a noble mission. However, did you know that some charities experience several thousand attempted cyber-attacks every week?

Rather than keel over under the weight of these attacks, these charities prevent theft by deploying robust defences, including up-to-date software patching and ironclad firewalls. Such is the benefit and the threat of being a larger charity – the more resources you have at your disposal, the bigger the target on your back.

However, as concerted attacks like these become more commonplace, cybercriminals will shift focus from the largest organisations. Instead, it would be easier for these criminals to target large but unprepared charities; in short, anyone could soon become a target. In fact, according to a government report, one in every six large charities will suffer from cybercrime attacks in the next two years.

Worryingly, many more charities will be the victim of cyber-attacks without even knowing it. That’s why it’s important to protect your charity now before it becomes part of a growing statistic.

What is the threat of charity cybercrime?

If you’re unprepared, it can take relatively little for your defences to be breached. A government study found that 54% of charity cybercrime is undertaken with phishing and malicious emails, which anybody can be susceptible to.

Otherwise known as mandate fraud, it’s relatively easy for criminals to spoof a fake purchase order and request a bank transfer.

It’s also common for charities to be targeted by hacking and extortion attempts, which accounts for 31% of charity cybercrime. This includes the recently emerging threat of cryptolockers and ransomware, which can completely cripple an organisation.

Less common threats include distributed denial of service attacks (DDOS) which can take charity websites or services offline, and brute force attacks designed to steal financial records. These methods can cause a significant data breach, which can be disastrous for charity reputation.

What is the impact of being a victim?

Where there was an adverse impact on charities, charities reported a wide range of issues, ranging from the relatively inconsequential such as loss of time to significant problems such as reputational damage.

Inarguably, however, the biggest impacts of charity cybercrime are financial loss (reported by 19% of charities) and data loss (15%), which can be difficult to recover from. Luckily, thanks to modern technology, it’s possible for charities of any size to protect themselves from the risk.

How to protect your charity from financial damage and data loss

Trustees have the power to protect their charity from these attacks. The government has published advice for charities looking to prevent cybercrime, including:

Ensuring strong financial management and good governance

Putting in place financial controls and ensuring they’re applied robustly

One of the easiest ways for charities to achieve both of these is to move their financial services to the cloud. With robust, cloud-based financial management software such as IRIS Financials and PS Cloud, you can easily protect your most valuable resources from the most common forms of cybercrime.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this new technology, you can visit the PS Cloud website for more information or even book a free demonstration to see it in action.