Tech For Good looks to bolster charities cyber-security efforts

News by Rene Millman

Charities will be on the lookout for CISO to give up their time to help out fighting hackers this Thursday.

Charities will be on the lookout for CISO to give up their time to help out fighting hackers this Thursday.

Called "Tech for Good", the event will see charities such as Cancer Research, Comic Relief, Barnados, United Response, pitch their needs to a number of CISO from FTSE 250 companies in the UK. The aim is that each charity will leave with a free advisor on bolstering their cyber-security posture.

The event has been put together by recruitment company La Fosse Associates. It will host around 80 industry-leading CISOs, including representatives from the FTSE 250. The evening will give ten charities a platform to speak to attendees, expand on their mission-statement and explain the important of cyber-security to their organisation. The aim is for each charity to be paired up with a pro-bono advisor who suits their requirements and identifies with their cause.

Ross Tanner, head of Information Security Practice for La Fosse Associates, said that while nearly every organisation today faces cyber-security threats, the industry’s leading professionals are costly and hard to come by. Unfilled cyber-security roles are expected to reach 3.5 million by 2021, according to findings by Cybersecurity Ventures, with the top roles demanding six-figure salaries.

"Charities are as in need of specialist advice as any other organisation, if not more so: they collect personal and financial information and process payments, while the public nature of their work can make them very visible targets," he said.

Tanner added that executive full-time talent is hard to find, and money spent onboarding executives at this level is less money spent actively campaigning for causes. He said that his firm’s pro-bono advisory service enables not-for-profit organisations draw on the expertise of industry-leading professionals on a part time basis and for free, receiving invaluable guidance while sidestepping high salary expectations.

"This enables them to think more strategically about their security posture with the perspective of an individual from some of the most security-conscious businesses in the world," said Tanner. "Simply put, we introduce top professionals in our network who are interested in giving back."

Tanner said that this programme benefits not only the charities who gain invaluable guidance, but also CISOs because the gain increased board exposure and experience operating in a different environment, making them more commercially aware in their own organisations.

Once matched, the CISOs will go into the charities as an advisor, looking at the charity's cyber-security strategies as well as the threat landscape it faces. The advisors then discuss what the charities should be doing from a technology, a business, and a people perspective. They will also introduce them to vendors. Some will have access to people working at the National Cyber Security Centre to provide visibility on the threats they face.

"These charities already have security people to address the problems they face, but what a CISO advisor gives them access to a whole new level of CISO that they wouldn’t even be able to come close to paying for."

"Those people will mentor those internally, tell them where to spend their money, tell them what to do. They are there to help provide strategy and oversight. It’s the next level above consulting."

La Fosse recently partnered with Amnesty International, placing an advisor to support the group's needs. It approached professionals in its senior network about the prospect of supporting Amnesty international on a consultative basis for a few days a quarter.

"The proposition was met with widespread interest, and we presented a shortlist of high-calibre candidates for interview," said Tanner.

Amnesty subsequently appointed Steve Wright, Interim Data Protection Officer at The Bank of England and previous Security and Privacy executive for John Lewis, Unilever, Deloitte and PwC.

Mike Robinson, head of Technology UK, Amnesty International said that as a Human Rights Charity it is exposed to the same threats as any other commercial organisation – more so at times given the work it carries out.

"We can’t operate with integrity without knowing we are doing everything we can to keep our donors and activists’ personal data safe and secure. The La Fosse pro bono offering builds on our existing security posture by providing us with invaluable access to advice and mentorship from an industry-leader in the security space, allowing us to continue to campaign for our causes safely and effectively," he said.

Wright, acting as a cyber-security advisor for the charity, said that advisory work was something he always planned on carrying out at some stage in his career.

"La Fosse’s creation of a platform for pro bono work in cyber-security is an innovative solution which allows charities to spend more of their resources campaigning and helping others, and will allow me to give back to a cause more than I ever would be able to in donations," he said.

Wright added that it is important to help NFPs such as Amnesty as much as we can to enable them to carry out the crucial work they do. "I’m excited about the relationship we’ll build from here, and would wholeheartedly recommend the scheme to any other Security executives interested in advisory work which allows them to truly make an impact."

Tanner said his firm was happy to waive its fee and bring together charities with industry-leaders, "freeing up more resources to go directly to their brilliant campaigns".

"This feels right, and fits in with our founding purpose – that treating other people well isn't just the right thing to do, it's a better way to do business," he said.

The event will be held this Thursday evening in a venue in Mayfair. Charities or CISOs interested in attending future events should contact Ross Tanner at ross.tanner@lafosse.com or call on 02079321651.

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