7 November 2023

Security talks at the 'roundtable' as NFPs most at risk of cyber attack

| Katrina Condie
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AI was on the agenda at the last OPC Clients of the Round Table event. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Australian College of Mental Health Nurses CEO Adrian Armitage calls them his “shadow cyber ninjas”, a group of IT specialists working quietly in the background to ensure Canberra’s not-for-profit (NFP) organisations are protected from hackers.

“It is not just a passive protection, the team at OPC are proactively advising and recommending solutions and constantly thinking ahead for us to help head issues off at the pass,” he said.

Adrian represents just one of many NFPs whose computer systems and databases are constantly under the watchful eye of cyber security specialists at OPC.

OPC sales director Euvi Regis said NFPs were “really vulnerable” to cyber attacks.

“Data shows they’re the most highly targeted organisations because they often don’t have the expertise or funding to put the resources in place to protect their systems,” she said.

“The kind of data they’re holding can be confidential, so that makes them even more susceptible to cyber attacks.”

Euvi said OPC has ramped up its offerings to almost 30 NFPs, providing a discounted end-to-end service, from hardware procurement and improving their technology infrastructure to 24-7 security monitoring, data backup and disaster recovery, as well as web services.

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OPC has also recently begun hosting ‘Clients of the Roundtable’ information sessions to provide representatives of NFPs with an opportunity to network in a relaxed environment and discuss similar challenges they may be facing.

“The roundtable events provide an avenue for NFPs to talk amongst themselves, and see they’re not alone and that other organisations are facing similar issues when it comes to funding, technology and cyber security,” Euvi said.

“The feedback has been really positive, so we will be running a roundtable with a different topic every quarter for existing and prospective clients.”

Guest speakers at the events cover topics such as artificial intelligence (AI), application consolidation and security. Guests also have opportunities to ask questions and chat with each other about their day-to-day challenges.

The most recent topic, presented by OPC security specialist Peter Shobbrook, addressed how NFPs could make the most of the new Microsoft Copilot AI assistant feature. Interest is being sought for the next event on 7 December, where a business analyst will provide insights into the latest database technology, including MS Dynamics.

Two people standing

OPC managing director Brett Norton with Charanya Sampath from Crayon, the Microsoft partner for the recent Clients of the Round Table event. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

OPC’s managing director Brett Norton is a keen supporter of Canberra’s NFP sector. He has been involved with charity organisations across the ACT for many years, including Camp Quality, Ronald McDonald House and Lifeline.

Euvi said it was important for organisations like childcare centres, aged care facilities and disability support groups to protect their data and to utilise quality software to streamline their workloads.

“We understand NFPs have limited budgets and resources, so we can leverage preferential pricing with our vendor partners, ensuring our clients have access to the best products at the best price,” she said.

Adrian said OPC was a “reliable partner” that worked in the background to actively protect the interests of the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses.

“It’s not just the trust, but the belief that they also have your interests at heart,” he said.

“Where the team goes the extra mile is the series of roundtables. Not only was the recent session enlightening to see the impact of AI on our NFPs, but it also demystified the risk and fear factor and allowed us to see the opportunities.

“I have met some incredible guests at these roundtables and have opened constructive work with Soldier On and ourselves, that I hope one day will see mental health nurses more engaged in assisting our military veterans and supporting the great work of Soldier On.”

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Euvi said OPC was keen to assist more NFPs in Canberra, many of which were run by volunteers wearing many hats.

“I can’t emphasise enough how much they really need to be trained in this area to protect their organisations,” she said.

“Often they don’t have a dedicated IT person, so there’s no focus on making sure they’re safe and things are working as they should, which makes them even more vulnerable.

“Sometimes we find NFPs have had the same IT manager for 10 years and once that person leaves, there’s no backup and no one knows where anything is – it can be a real mess.”

Euvi said it was important for NFPs to be on top of their systems and security because people’s personal data was at stake and, at the end of the day, the board of directors was liable for any breaches.

“We do encourage our clients to get cyber insurance and we know that, if they have cyber security measures in place, their premiums will be lower,” she added.

For more information or to express interest in the next event visit OPC.


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