The Charity Commission has issued an alert to trustees, charity professionals and volunteers to be aware of online extortion or ‘ransom’ demands affecting UK businesses, and which the regulator says are now targeting the charity sector
Based on reports made to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, the Commission is warning that charities could prove vulnerable to attack from a group calling themselves ‘Lizard Squad’.
It says charities which operate overseas and/or deal with international partners in high risk zones are at particular risk.
This group has sent emails demanding payment of five bitcoins by a certain date and time. The email states that this demand will increase by five bitcoins for each day that it goes unpaid.
If this demand is not met, the group has threatened to launch a ‘denial of service’ attack (DOS) against organisations’ websites and networks, taking them offline until payment is handed over. The demand states that once their actions have started, they cannot be undone.
Carl Mehta, head of Investigations and enforcement operations at the Charity Commission, said: ‘Charities need to be aware of the imminent danger posed by this fraudulent group and to take appropriate steps to protect their charity’s assets and good reputation – both of which could be damaged if the ransom demands of the group are met.
‘I urge all charities, if they suspect they may have fallen victim to such extortion or ransom fraud, to report it immediately to Action Fraud.’