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Cybersecurity in the Humanitarian NGO Sector: NetHope, USAID and Okta Form Alliance

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NetHopeUSAID and Okta are partnering to address the humanitarian impact of cyberattacks through the creation of the Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC).

The “Global Humanitarian ISAC” will identify cyber risks and suggest remediation, provide training and advice to nonprofit staff on cyber security and threat response, and provide tools and technology to receive and react to threats.

In announcing the partnership, the trio of organizations signed a memorandum of understanding, according to a joint statement released September 9. CyberPeace Institute, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) committed to assisting humanitarian entities to defend against cyberattacks, also intends to sign the memorandum.

NGOs, Nonprofits Not Immune to Cyberattacks

As cyberattacks continue to increase globally at an unprecedented rate, humanitarian organizations are developing cybersecurity protections to guard against cyber threats. However, many nonprofits and NGOs are unprepared to face the growing threats.

Once established, the ISAC will enable host governments, donors, technology companies, MSPs, MSSPs and other trusted providers to support the spectrum of information security needs of nonprofit agencies and the world’s most vulnerable communities.

Lance Pierce, CEO of NetHope, an organization focused on helping nonprofits address the world's most pressing challenges, explained the ISAS’s charter:

“Leveraging NetHope’s global network of 65 member organizations, USAID’s convening power, and Okta’s technology expertise, the ISAC will support global humanitarian nonprofits to increase their cybersecurity preparedness so the most vulnerable, and those who assist them, are better protected.”

Cyber Defense in Numbers

Many nonprofits are kept from scaling up technologies due to information security resource constraints. Therefore, they must divert valuable resources in lieu of responding to increasing humanitarian and conservation emergencies worldwide. Consequently, the Global Humanitarian ISAC will be a single voice in helping humanitarian-focused nonprofits act as a force multiplier that brings contextually sensitive expertise into one platform to drive efficiency, reach and digital impact to those they serve.

Erin Baudo Felter, vice president of Social Impact and Sustainability at Okta, an independent identity provider, hailed the partnership:

“The technology sector has a collective responsibility to improve tech access and capabilities for all. As one of the leading identity providers, Okta’s responsibility naturally extends to ensuring everyone can safely access and use technology. Technology companies, governments and funders can and should unite to design unified, and ultimately more effective, cybersecurity solutions that empower and better protect implementing partners, partner governments, and nonprofit organizations’ crucial work. Okta is proud to partner with NetHope and USAID in these efforts.”

Stéphane Duguin, CEO of CyberPeace Institute, an NGO focused on ensuring the rights of people to security, dignity and equity in cyberspace, expressed hope for a safer cyber future:

“Our collective ability to protect the most vulnerable online is the most urgent and critical issue to address on the journey towards cyber peace. ISACs have long proven to be a key asset in building cyber resilience and it is time for humanitarian actors to have their own. Our Institute's commitment to assisting NGOs to build cyber capacity continues as we proudly support NetHope, USAID and Okta with the launch of the Global Humanitarian ISAC."

Jim Masters

Jim Masters is Managing Editor of MSSP Alert, and holds a B.A. degree in Journalism from Northern Illinois University. His career has spanned governmental and investigative reporting for daily newspapers in the Northwest Indiana Region and 16 years in a global internal communications role for a Fortune 500 professional services company. Additionally, he is co-owner of the Lake County Corn Dogs minor league baseball franchise, located in Crown Point, Indiana. In his spare time, he enjoys writing and recording his own music, oil painting, biking, volleyball, golf and cheering on the Corn Dogs.