Charities hit by Blackbaud ransomware attack

YoungMinds, which was caught up in the breach, urges supporters to be wary of unexpected communication

At least one UK charity has had data stolen after a hacker attacked a US-based cloud computing provider.

Blackbaud is one of the largest providers of fundraising, financial management, and supporter management software to the UK charity sector.

The firm said it had notified affected clients about an incident where a cybercriminal accessed some clients’ data, and that it paid the ransom to ensure that data would not be made publicly available or shared elsewhere. 

In a statement on its website, Blackbaud, said: “Because protecting our customers’ data is our top priority, we paid the cybercriminal’s demand with confirmation that the copy they removed had been destroyed.”

“Prior to our locking the cybercriminal out, the cybercriminal removed a copy of a subset of data from our self-hosted environment. 

“The cybercriminal did not access credit card information, bank account information, or social security numbers. 

Affected clients were contacted this month after the breach was discovered in May. 

The mental health charity YoungMinds said it had filed a serious incident report with the Charity Commission and informed the Information Commissioner’s Office. 

In a statement the charity said: “We have been assured by Blackbaud that there is a low risk to YoungMinds’ supporters, but all the same we would urge all of our supporters to continue to be wary of unexpected communication, and practise the usual caution around suspicious emails and letters.” 

The charity said Blackbaud had told it that, to the best of its knowledge, "all of the details that were accessed have now been destroyed".

Blackbaud has apologised to customers and said that it had made changes to avoid a similar attack in the future. 

“We believe the strength of our cybersecurity practice and advance planning is the reason we were able to shut down this sophisticated ransomware attack," its statement said.

"We have already implemented changes to prevent this specific issue from happening again.” 

But the company has so far declined to say how many clients were affected and give any breakdown by region or sector, citing client privacy, but said: “The majority of our customers were not part of this incident.”

Blackbaud has notified the Information Commissioner's Office of the incident and said it was working with them and its customers, plus federal law enforcement agencies in the US.

A number of UK universities, and the US-based non-profit Human Rights Watch, have also been affected.

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