Humanitarian Cybersecurity Centre launched in Geneva

The International Committee of the Red Cross suffered a cyberattack last year, compromising the data of vulnerable people. Attacks on NGOs in the humanitarian sector have become more common. Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi

A new platform has been launched in Geneva to help humanitarian NGOs protect themselves against cyberattacks.

This content was published on February 28, 2023 minutes

“In the last three years, cybercriminals and Nation State actors have accessed systems and personal records, stolen millions of dollars of donations, carried out surveillance operations, or led disinformation campaigns against non-governmental organizations (NGOs),” said a statementExternal link on Monday by the CyberPeace Institute, which initiated the platform.

For example, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was hacked in January last year, compromising the data of half a million highly vulnerable people.

+ Read about last year's cyberattack on the ICRC

“The need is crying out,” said Stéphane Duguin, executive director of the CyberPeace Institute, in an interview with the Keystone-SDA news agency. Since its launch in 2019, this institution has supported some 100 companies and NGOs before and during a cybersecurity incident. Duguin says it now wants to increase this figure tenfold by 2025, and the new centre must bring all players together “for sustainable solutions”.

Key focus areas will be detection, prevention, assistance, and strengthening protection, for example by developing standards and fostering multi-stakeholder collaboration, according to the press release. The CyberPeace Institute says it is a free global resource for NGOs and humanitarian actors. 

“Whether responding in a conflict zone, to a natural disaster, or carrying out development programmes, NGOs do not have the capacity to both be on the frontline and respond to cyber threats,” says Duguin. “The CyberPeace Institute’s Humanitarian Cybersecurity Centre provides them with the tools, workforce and knowledge to face the threat.”

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