I’m the CEO of a small ( but fabulous) third sector organisation – and I can clearly remember life before computers, before mobile phones and before email. When I started work I had a Rolodex file on my desk with all my contacts. If I wanted to send a letter it took a minimum of 3 days to write it, send it to the typing pool, get it back, correct it , send it back again and finally sign it and put it in the post. Waiting for a reply took a similar amount of time. And now, I’ve been asked to write a blog on cyber security. On the face of it this is unlikely as me writing a blog on my first marathon or how I won Bake Off!

So having established I am not a techie type by birth, I can reassure you that I do know what I am talking about a bit. I am one of the Scottish Government appointed Third Sector Cyber Catalysts. I am here to tell you that cyber security is an issue for every organisation no matter how small. There are financial and reputational consequences for getting it wrong so you really ignore it at your peril.   

My own organisation provides housing advice and support to over 700 clients per year. We all work remotely and are paper free. Thanks to the latest technology ( of which I have limited understanding ) we can communicate with our clients by phone, email Skype . We can call up information from around the globe as well as around the corner. We are flexible, dedicated and responsive but we are also – drumroll- vulnerable to cyber attack.   

“How so?” I hear you say. As I understand it the very large organisations out there ( you know who I mean) spend gazillions on their cyber security. So the bad guys and gals out there are turning their attention to easier targets.   Why? Well, sometimes for money. Did you know someone can hack into and disable your website and hold you to ransom?  Sometimes for information. Client enquiries can generate all sorts of data which might be useful to cyber criminals – names, addresses, dates of birth all have a value in this black economy. Sometimes hackers will be motivated by malevolence or in today’s world trying to score political points. 

Having scared the life out of you I want to say to you that there is lots of help out there. Much of it free. Some of it is just good practice! This tells you how you can apply for funding to make sure you are cyber resilient, and there are lots of top tips here. 

The cyber security world in my experience is a very friendly place. People are very willing to share their expertise. If you have any questions at all please get in touch with Alison Stone at SCVO – you can email alison.stone@scvo.org.uk.