While technology shapes every aspect of our lives from when we wake up, to how we work, it is crucial that we secure the entire digital infrastructure to ensure everyone, especially vulnerable communities have equal access to technology’s benefits. In the pursuit of a safe cyber landscape, we are thrilled to present the fourth instalment of our Donors’ series.
We had the privilege of interviewing Victor Cordon, Okta’s Head of Social Impact. Join us as we explore Okta’s mission and gain insight on creating a thriving, equitable, and sustainable future for all.
At Okta, our vision is to free everyone to safely use any technology. We work towards this vision everyday by safely connecting millions of people to the technology they need to be their most efficient, productive, and successful selves. Okta is also committed to ensuring that by everyone, we truly mean – everyone. Okta for Good – our social impact and sustainability arm – is a critical enabler in turning that vision into reality. Our mission is to build a safely connected world where everyone can belong and thrive. We leverage our identity software platform, grant dollars, and employees’ expertise to support nonprofit organizations, while ensuring the foundation of our core business is built on integrity, transparency, and trust. By working in partnership with all of our stakeholders, including customers, employees, and our communities, we hope to dramatically expand the boundaries of how business and technology can be a powerful force for good.
Why did your organization get involved in supporting the Institute? Why is the work of the CyberPeace Institute important for your organization?
Nonprofits do society’s most critical work – and technology is essential to achieving and accelerating their impact. Since its inception Okta for Good has focused its attention to technology enablement for nonprofits, and in 2020, we deepened our commitment by launching the Nonprofit Technology Initiative. Our goal through the Initiative is to contribute to a paradigm shift in how nonprofits are funded and enabled to leverage technology. The Initiative focuses on three key areas: accelerating nonprofits’ move to the cloud, supporting digital transformation to enable nonprofits to reach their stakeholders digitally at scale, and securing nonprofits and their critical data.
On that last focus area, we know that more than 50% of nonprofits report being targeted by cyberattacks, yet most do not have the resources to maintain adequate cybersecurity plans. To address this issue, Okta for Good launched our Nonprofit Cybersecurity Portfolio last summer, committing more than $1 million in grant funding to support six organizations including the CyberPeace Institute. Our support of the Institute is focused on expanding CyberPeace Builders, connecting corporate cyber volunteers with nonprofits in need of cybersecurity training. Bridging the connection between cybersecurity expertise from the private sector direct to civil society organizations, with infrastructure and wraparound support held by the Institute is exemplary to how we invest at the ecosystem level, and it’s been a true pleasure to support this program.
What impact have you seen stemming from your support to the Institute?
We are so proud to be among the Institute’s partners. The Builders program has delivered incredible results – hundreds of hours of support provided to 100+ NGOs active in over 120 countries. This is both incredible and inspiring reach and impact. Okta for Good places emphasis on collaboration and learning to accelerate impact, and we’ve seen both stem from our support to the Institute.
In collaboration, CyberPeace Institute, Okta and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) partnered with NetHope as they launched their humanitarian Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC). This first-of-its-kind public-private partnership enables coordinated, cross-sector support for the information security needs of nonprofits and the world’s most vulnerable communities. Since its launch, we’ve learned firsthand what the humanitarian sector needs, and, together, we’re starting to put these learnings into action. For example, as part of NetHope’s response to the Turkey and Syria earthquake, responding nonprofits received the basic tools to understand their cyber risks, and support to take actionable steps to improve. Organizations received briefings on the threat analysis, techniques of attackers, likely risk factors, and recommended actionable safety measures. This is the type of action that can happen when we work together, and the Institute has been a critical collaborator in this work.
On learning, partnerships with organizations like the Institute have deepened our belief that cybersecurity is truly about caring for people. Our investments in cybersecurity for nonprofits have amplified another opportunity – addressing the talent shortage in this space. The cybersecurity talent gap grew by 26.2% in 2022, with around 3.4 million unfilled jobs worldwide. Okta for Good is committed to helping address this shortage in a number of ways, including philanthropic investments to organizations working on cybersecurity workforce development, with a particular focus on communities historically underrepresented in the technology sector.
Why is supporting non-governmental organizations – such as the CyberPeace Institute – in cybersecurity so important today?
Bad actors are continuously looking to take advantage of nonprofits, humanitarian organizations and other civil society groups addressing society’s most critical issues. The risk to these organizations and the lives of those they support has never been greater. NetHope released its 2023 State of Humanitarian and Development Cybersecurity Report and found that 59% of large humanitarian organizations believe that their cybersecurity and information security practice is underfunded, and 65% believe it is inadequately managed. At the same time, most believe the risk has grown significantly or substantially to their organization in the last 12 months. If this is true for the world’s largest organizations, I can’t imagine what grassroots, community-based organizations would report on the state of their cybersecurity practices. The Institute’s work supporting those groups becomes that much more paramount! Given the evolving and pervasive threat landscape today, investing in cybersecurity is a critical investment for any funder seeking to advance progress in their areas of focus.