Okta sets aside $1 million to support cyber security training for non-profits

Okta company logo appearing on a smartphone which is placed upon a Windows laptop's keyboard
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Identity provider Okta has launched a Nonprofit Cybersecurity Portfolio, which will include over $1 million in grants to support better security practices across the social sector.

The move follows Okta’s three-year commitment to invest $10 million via the Okta for Good Fund, a donor-advised fund held at the Tides Foundation charity. The company said it comes at a time when nonprofits are facing increased cyber attacks, putting millions of already vulnerable people at greater risk.

Over 50% of nonprofits report being targeted by cyber attacks, but most do not have the resources to maintain adequate cyber security plans, the company claims. Okta’s Nonprofit Cybersecurity Portfolio is the company’s first step in supporting better security for nonprofits through six grants that provide resourcing for projects ranging from cyber security training to incident response support.

The funds will be distributed between six different organisations and projects with a presence in the US, although a number of these operate globally. Each have been selected by external nonprofit security experts and Okta Security leadership including David Bradbury, CSO of Okta and Jameeka Green Aaron, CISO at Auth0, a product unit of Okta, the company explained.

“I believe deeply that what we do at Okta isn’t just about technology - it’s about people. There’s nothing more important than the people we support and help to protect, which is why I am passionate about advocating for nonprofits and their missions and helping them protect the identities of their people,” said Green Aaron.

The grantees are:

  • CyberPeace Institute: The institute will use its $150,000 grant to expand CyberPeace Builders, connecting corporate cyber volunteers with nonprofits in need of cyber security training.
  • NetHope: This organisation has been granted $375,000 over two years to establish a “Dial-a-CISO” programme and provide coordinated incident response for NetHope members. It will also use the grant to establish a global humanitarian Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC) service to support nonprofits involved in Humanitarian Relief. This includes engaging the private sector in greater support of nonprofits cyber security efforts, in collaboration with Okta and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
  • Norwegian Refugee Council: It will be awarded $290,000 over two years to create policies and training materials for the safe handling of data in humanitarian response to be scaled across a network of global nonprofits.
  • Simply Secure: A grant of $80,000 will support privacy and design consulting for nonprofit technology startups that are building digital services for vulnerable populations.
  • TechSoup Civil Society Strengthening Fund: This is a new programme, administered by TechSoup, to help civil society organisations in and around Ukraine strengthen their cyber security, with plans to expand globally in the future. Aside from awarding a grant of $100,000, Okta is encouraging other tech companies to contribute, and so far Zscaler has given $20,000 and Zendesk $50,000.
  • UC Berkeley Center for Long-term Cybersecurity (CLTC): The centre has been awarded a $25,000 planning grant to explore areas for future collaboration such as cyber security training for graduate students and original research on public interest cyber security issues.

Okta isn’t the only tech company hoping to help these kinds of organisations. Microsoft launched new cyber security help last October, providing a new suite of tools and training to help nonprofits defend themselves against attacks from nation-state hackers.

It includes free security assessments and free training for admins and users. Microsoft also gave nonprofits access to its AccountGuard Program, which notifies them when their Microsoft 365 organisational accounts or staff and board members’ personal Outlook and Hotmail accounts are targeted or compromised by sophisticated nation-state actors.

Zach Marzouk

Zach Marzouk is a former ITPro, CloudPro, and ChannelPro staff writer, covering topics like security, privacy, worker rights, and startups, primarily in the Asia Pacific and the US regions. Zach joined ITPro in 2017 where he was introduced to the world of B2B technology as a junior staff writer, before he returned to Argentina in 2018, working in communications and as a copywriter. In 2021, he made his way back to ITPro as a staff writer during the pandemic, before joining the world of freelance in 2022.