How Beth Shean Trust Stays on Top of Cyber Security and Keeps Their Customers’ Data and Other Information Safe

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Beth-Shean Trust is a New Zealand-registered charitable trust set up in 1995, whose main mission is to promote hope and well-being for people affected by mental illness and emotional issues. The trust provides respite and accommodation services following the Māori model – Te Whare Tapa Wha – which encompasses all aspects of our life from physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational.

Just like most small and medium-sized businesses in New Zealand, Beth-Shean’s IT infrastructure and data security is put on the backburner. The day-to-day focus is mainly on their operations and caring for their guests. However, with the increasing risks of cyber security and the legislations they need to adhere to, this kind of business-as-usual approach is no longer an option. While they have not encountered any incidents or incursions as yet, it is only a matter of time until they get affected unless they assume a proactive posture.

Miriam Milson, Beth-Shean‘s Administrator and Manager, shares their journey from being completely unaware of how to tackle this big task, to having a complete roadmap of things they need to address, in order to improve their security.

Client

Beth Shean Trust Logo

Year

1995

Services provided

Respite Services


The Problem

Beth-Shean is a small organisation that was founded by husband and wife, Barry and Miriam Milson. For over 20 years, they have been providing care and other services to guests at their respite Mount Albert house in Auckland.

Throughout the years, just like most SMBs, their technology infrastructure has become outdated and no longer fit for purpose. Naturally, this presents an increased security risk due to vulnerabilities and out-of-date systems. But for most businesses, this doesn’t hinder day-to-day operations except to provide some minor inconveniences that people learn to live with. But that wasn’t the case for Beth-Shean. As a registered trust, they had an obligation to report back to the Ministry of Health which requires a minimum level of security standards.

“There was a long-time last year when we couldn’t do our data reporting to the ministry because the old system was no longer fit for purpose. The system we were using was affordable for small businesses like ours to do our secure reporting, however it was a big hassle when it wasn’t working,” said Miriam.

If that wasn’t enough, the pandemic brought in new challenges for the Trust as well. Suddenly, their doctors and other health professionals could only provide services via Zoom calls or other video conferencing services. Staff getting sick or leaving also became a challenge. With all this happening, Miriam knew they needed some professional guidance to help them with their technology.

The solution

Benefits of Being a Spark Customer

Beth-Shean Trust is a Spark Business Hub customer. Because of this, they already have a reliable partner they can turn to when it comes to helping them grow their business.

Spark knew that businesses like Beth-Shean need some guidance on the technology side of the business. After all, almost every aspect of today’s businesses involve technology at some level. Internet and Wi-Fi, laptops and computers, video conferencing, social media, accounting, to name a few. However, most SMBs don’t have dedicated IT teams that can handle the research, the selection process, and implementation of these technologies.

This is the gap that Spark wants to bridge. They work with local IT providers who can offer services needed by SMBs. Spark vets these companies beforehand to ensure that these firms can deliver high quality services at affordable prices. By providing small and medium sized businesses with custom solutions that meets both the current needs of the organisation as well as its budget, Spark enables SMBs to focus more on their business and, at the same time, ensure they are getting the right level of support that they need.

Perfect Timing

While they already had a trusted IT person that helped them with their basic IT needs, the pandemic swiftly changed the dynamics of their relationship. Their provider was also serving other customers and couldn’t give Beth-Shean as much time and focus as before. With everything that was happening, Miriam jumped at the opportunity to get Beth-Shean audited from an expert’s perspective.

 

“[The cyber security audit] puts its contents in a controllable context for me…having a review time, identifying the 6-7 different domains to look at, seeing where you are, then clearly knowing what kind of things we can work on to bring us up to an acceptable level. I found it extremely helpful.

 

Miriam Milson

Administrator & Manager, Beth Shean Trust

Miriam knew about the importance of cyber security and its risks. She had been reading articles on topics like phishing emails. What she didn’t have is the expertise to implement the changes needed nor did she know where to start.

Miriam shared, “I knew we were probably not up to scratch with what we had. We didn’t know what we didn’t know. Some of my staff are not at all IT-savvy. I don’t think people will click on a link, but some of the emails are pretty convincing and they just may do so”

This realisation was the first step. She knew that there were a lot of things outside her control. With news of Kiwi businesses being affected by ransomware and the increasing quantity and quality of these cyber threats, it was only a matter of time until they got affected.

Around the same time, Spark knew businesses were struggling to cope with the changes brought by COVID-19. While remote work and video conferencing may seem like the norm today, a lot of SMBs have never implemented them before. Because of this, customers of Spark Business Hubs often get recommendations on IT areas they may need help with. In this specific instance, Spark was offering a cyber security audit with one of their accredited IT partners; iT360. This was perfect timing for Beth-Shean.

Beth Shean Trust Today

Final Thoughts

“[The cyber security audit] puts its contents in a controllable context for me,” said Miriam. “Having a review time, identifying the 6-7 different domains to look at, seeing where you are, then clearly knowing what kind of things we can work on to bring us up to an acceptable level. I found it extremely helpful.”

When asked about what she thought about the cyber security assessment, Miriam said “I wouldn’t have known the extent of our lack of knowledge without the assessment. Also, we wouldn’t have had the assessment if we had not of been a Spark business customer.”

She further adds that the “assessment was quite in-depth. I think, yeah, iT360 know what they are talking about. They have provided some useful tips, not just trying to sell me something and they weren’t all hard things. Some, we could do it ourselves.”

As a final word of advice for other SMBs, Miriam said that “if you don’t keep on top of things, you could end up in a situation that might cost a lot of money to fix. But for a relatively small amount of money, you’re able to get a sense of assurance that somebody identified our areas of vulnerability”

In a few months, Beth-Shean Trust plans to take the assessment again to find out how they score against where they were a few months ago.

The iT360 cyber security audit looks at 7 different dimensions of the business. Following a series of questions to answer, the audit provides quantitative scores on how the company is performing. Overall, this comprehensive audit provides a clear roadmap of things needed to do to improve an organisation’s security.

After taking the assessment, Beth-Shean has moved forward in implementing some of the recommendations. As an example, they have already updated their years’ old passwords and created policies for both new hires and existing staff.

One of the biggest realisations Miriam shared after taking the cyber security assessment was that “we weren’t quite as hopeless as I thought we might have been and that’s reassuring to know.” She acknowledged that some of the information she did not really understand, and she is okay with that. Miriam knew she was not as tech-savvy as iT360 and nor should she be. At the end of the day, all she cares about is that Beth-Shean’s data is safe and secure.

The assessment analysed areas they needed help with and which ones they could do themselves. Not all recommendations would involve big purchases for them. This is what made Miriam place her trust in iT360.

“The fact that the initial consultation was free really did help. It set us up for success. We got enough information from the audit to know we needed to invest some money into updating critical areas and it seemed a reasonable amount of money too.”

Do you know where your security blind spots are?

When it comes to protecting your business’ data, it pays to be proactive. It pays to have a plan. If you do not have policies in place or a plan to improve your security, then you are at substantial risk. Schedule a call with our team of experts to shed light on your business’s blind spots.