Scottish government offers grants to improve cyber protection

Charities can apply for grants of up to £1,000 in the latest round of funding from the Scottish government's Cyber Essentials fund

Scottish charities are being invited to apply for grants of £1,000 to improve their cyber resilience.

The Scottish government set up the £500,000 Cyber Essentials small grants scheme in 2017 to help charities and small to medium-sized businesses boost their cyber security.

Research at the time showed that one in five UK charities had reported a cyber breach but almost three-quarters hadn’t invested in cyber security.

Sixty charities will be awarded grants in the latest funding round.

Successful bidders will use the funding to meet UK government accreditation standards in firewalls, secure configuration, user-access control, malware protection and patch management.

They can spend it on internal IT support staff or contractors.

Figures published this week by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport show that more than a fifth of charities suffered cyber breaches or attacks in the past 12 months.

David McNeill, digital director at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, which is administering the scheme, said: "Charities are increasingly vulnerable to cyber risks, so it’s really important that they take action to keep themselves and their data safe."

Kate Forbes, the Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy, said the accreditation scheme "demonstrates to supporters, donors and beneficiaries that charities are protecting their data".

Charities with annual incomes of up to £4m are eligible to apply for grants.

The accreditation certificate is valid for a year and then has to be renewed for £300.

An SCVO spokesman said: "Since most of the cost is the technical work for initial accreditation, most organisations should find renewals are straightforward."

The deadline for applications is 25 April.

More information is available here.

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