The Cyber Helpline, a national charity dedicated to providing support and advice to victims of cyber crime and online stalking, is to receive a major boost to its finances from the National Lottery Community Fund, which has awarded it £10,000 to support its work.
The helpline was founded a few years ago by security consultant and former Secureworks marketing head Rory Innes, who saw a gap in support for cyber crime victims that was leaving millions of people to fall through the gaps.
He set up the service with the intention of connecting victims to some of the estimated 58,000 private sector security professionals currently working in the UK. The helpline now offers free and confidential emergency assistance to cyber crime victims through its network of 50 volunteer cyber security experts and 24/7 guidance through an online chatbot.
But demand for its services has exploded in the past nine months, with huge spikes in online fraud and abuse seen during the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning the cost of running its services has also soared.
“We’re delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund has recognised our work in this way. Now, thanks to National Lottery players, we will be able to support hundreds more victims of cyber crime in the UK and alleviate the severe emotional and financial burden caused by these attacks,” said Innes.
“At a time when the country is going through a national lockdown and economic hardship amid redundancies and closed businesses, we see our mission of creating a country where the cyber criminals do not win as more important than ever.”
Online stalking victim
The Cyber Helpline will split the money between scaling its chatbot technology to offer assistance tailored to pandemic-linked crime and onboarding new volunteers to act as first responders. Currently, the team supports around 400 people every month, addressing problems such as stalking, lost devices, hacked accounts, online bullying and harassment, and sextortion and revenge porn. They aim to help victims take back control of their lives following a cyber attack and learn how to secure their online presence.
“Stalking is like online murder,” said Linda, a recent victim of online stalking who was helped by the service. “It’s a terrible experience and one I felt I would never escape. The Cyber Helpline team helped me navigate an online world I just didn’t understand. The way you worked in unison with the other parties involved and had a clear plan made me feel safe. I knew I was in good hands. Keep up the good work, this is a vital service for other stalking victims like me.”
Andrew Pitt, director of security channel managed service provider Saepio, who recently completed a virtual 5k fundraising run in support of The Cyber Helpline, added: “The team at Saepio is incredibly passionate about giving back and we are proud to support The Cyber Helpline.
“We are committed to raising awareness for this meaningful cause, which helps members of the public who fall victim to cyber crime – from ransomware attacks, to hacked email accounts and cyber bullying.”