WA initiative launched to boost security for Australia’s non-profit sector

A West Australian-led international collaboration is boosting security aimed at helping Australia’s vulnerable non-profit sector defend itself from cyber attacks.

Led by Perth-based Microsoft gold partner illuminance Solutions, the initiative is designed to allow non-profits to access cyber security expertise while staff are trained by international experts to help fight future hackings.

illuminance Solutions has partnered with the WA AustCyber Innovation Hub,which is funded by the WA Government’s New Industries Fund, in a project which will seek to utilise the Cyber Check Me program, which was created by, and is managed through, the Security Research Institute at Edith Cowan University.

According to illuminance’s CEO Nilesh Makwana non-profits are highly vulnerable to malicious cyber attacks because many lack modern security systems.

“Nonprofits are so focused on doing valuable work for our communities across the nation that they can develop a blind spot for cyber security,” he says.

“illuminance Solutions is devoted to helping companies use Microsoft technology to thrive, and we see this initiative as a way of helping some of Australia’s most important groups secure their digital links while upskilling their workforces and helping establish more local jobs.”

Dr. Ian Martinus from the WA AustCyber Hub said illuminance’s work with nonprofit organisations provided the perfect opportunity to spread the benefits of secure cyber practices even further into the Australian and global workforce.

“The third sector holds significant personal data which makes them attractive targets for malicious attacks, so it’s vital we increase their cyber-resilience and collaborate with an industry leader like illuminance Solutions,” he says.

“Engaging talented students is also a great way to grow Australia’s local cybersecurity workforce and to showcase the highly developed skillsets that graduates in WA possess in this specialist field. The WA AustCyber Innovation Hub promotes a model of ‘Partner, Build, Export’ - this type of collaboration has the potential to deliver on those themes.”

Nilesh Makwana says opening access to the Microsoft stack of technologies gives nonprofits a great leap forward in their security, and he hopes to add the Microsoft platform of business apps into the mix to further enhance their experience.

“With many workers across global industries logging on from home to protect themselves from COVID-19, hackers are taking advantage of the situation to exploit weak systems, planting computer viruses and stealing money, or confidential information,” he says.

“Human or operator error is widely acknowledged as the cause of the vast majority of cyber attacks. This is often due to a lack of training for staff or improper procedures being followed or disregarded.”

To help nonprofits overcome this skills gap, illuminance Solutions is also working with Canadian cyber security firm Terranova Security to bring its globally-recognised training courses to assist nonprofits in Australia.

Terranova Security CEO Lise Lapointe says her company offers a “human fix to human risk” and will help nonprofits alert users to phishing scams, help reduce user risk and change behaviour, and tighten their procedures.

“By teaching staff members about what forms cyber attacks take and how to deal with them, and protect from them, we equip organisations with invaluable skills that secure their operations and establish a strong security culture,” she says.

“As the Microsoft partner of choice in security awareness training, we’re excited to work with illuminance Solutions, who have been providing strong leadership for incorporating Microsoft technology into business in Australia.