CyberPeace Builders: Supporting NGOs in the age of cyber

CyberPeace Builders: Supporting NGOs in the age of cyber

NGOs are in need of protection from cyberattacks 

GENEVA, Switzerland – 14 October 2021 – The CyberPeace Institute launches today the CyberPeace Builders, the first global network of cybersecurity volunteers to protect humanitarian NGOs.  

NGOs in critical sectors such as health, water, food, energy and finance are increasingly victims of cyberattacks impacting their ability to deliver vital services to vulnerable communities. The risk to lives and livelihoods is real, as over  50% of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) report being targeted by cyberattacks.

“At a time when cybercrime has become such a threat to critical infrastructure and services, it is important to recognize that so many NGOs that provide critical services to vulnerable communities need support to be able to continue their work. This is why we developed the CyberPeace Builders to increase and accelerate assistance efforts to a particularly vulnerable community, that of NGOs,” said Stéphane Duguin, CEO of the CyberPeace Institute. “We have been working closely with NGOs whose funds, destined to humanitarian activities, have been stolen by cybercriminals, and NGOs whose communications have been subjected to illegal surveillance. Building cyberpeace, starts by providing practical and free support to them,” he adds. 

The CyberPeace Builders’ mission is to help NGOs prepare for and recover from cyberattacks. They are a new generation of volunteers in the age of cyber.  Cybersecurity experts employed by local and international companies and volunteering to defend NGOs. This initiative brings support to NGOs in critical sectors at a level that is unparalleled in terms of staff, tools and capabilities. 

In today’s interconnected world, we call on international collaboration to ensure peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to knowledge and justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions.

“After extensive research and testing, we have developed a unique collaboration between the private sector and civil society that mobilises cybersecurity support to NGOs through an engaged community of experts,” explains Adrien Ogée, Chief Operating Officer of the CyberPeace Institute. “The CyberPeace Builders is already supporting over 20 NGOs, and aims to reach 100 by the end of 2022. The biggest challenge for an NGO should be how to respond to the humanitarian needs of the populations they serve, yet cybersecurity is now a major challenge for them. Our support aims to enable them to ensure they can focus where it matters most for them – their beneficiaries.” 

The top 5 cyber challenges for an NGO are now:

  1. Digitalization – the ability to leverage technology to bring scale and improve service delivery to beneficiaries whilst securing the ICT systems that enable this, 
  2. Protecting against data breaches as the data collected on beneficiaries, donors, and other stakeholders that they engage with is seen as a valuable commodity,
  3. Maintaining humanitarian (business) continuity when a cyberattack has happened and restoring trust,
  4. Building cybersecurity resilience to reduce the likelihood of an attack, 
  5. Upskilling staff who increasingly rely on ICTs and social media platforms to engage, to provide information and connect with their beneficiaries to ensure they and their beneficiaries are aware of risks and have good cyber hygiene.

These new CyberPeace Builders can support an NGOs capacity to respond to these cyber challenges through the engagement of expert volunteers that are committing their time and skills, and supported by a dedicated team at the CyberPeace Institute with specialised tools and infrastructure. This community provides pre-incident and post-incident assistance allowing the NGO’s core staff to concentrate on mission-critical services.

Pascal Carpentier, Head of Information Systems and Technology at Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) a non-profit drug research and development organization based in Geneva said “At DNDi we value the trusted relationship with the CyberPeace Institute and their commitment to help us find adequate solutions to our cyber security challenges, in particular to protect the data of our beneficiaries. The new CyberPeace Builders programme will bring great added value to NGOs based in Geneva, but also around the world, to help them face today’s digital challenges.”

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