The Church & Cybersecurity
This tumultuous year has brought paradigm shifts across every facet of daily life. A global pandemic has pushed much of our lives online—work, school, entertainment, shopping, and socializing. But one thing remains unchanged: people everywhere share a common need for safety. Today, our need for personal safety includes the digital realm. At Techchurch.io alongside Microsoft, we believe that a secure online experience helps empower people to do more, create more, and have trust in the technology that connects us all. It’s no wonder that cybersecurity is a vital part of everything we build.
Cybersecurity is no longer an issue only for large companies. Now that many more churches have an online presence and is actively soliciting online viewers, the threats to churches are real and present.
Church leaders must begin to educate themselves on the risks that exist and ensure that they do everything possible to protect their ministry infrastructure, congregants, and guests alike.
The first thing you can do as a ministry to protect yourself against cybersecurity attacks is to acknowledge that cybersecurity is real. Just because you are a church or you’re small does not exempt you from such attacks. The reality is you are more at risk of a cybersecurity attack for those very same reasons.
You could have data that hackers are interested in obtaining. Depending on the nature of the attack, your ministry could experience network lockout, lose valuable data or even have personal information about employees and/or members compromised.
The second thing you can do to minimize the possibility of an attack is to designate someone to oversee cybersecurity within your ministry. They must be responsible for taking a critical look at your existing infrastructure, connections, policies, procedures, and protocols so that a proper plan of defense can be structured.
Invest in that individual. Send them to classes on cybersecurity. Hire an IT firm to work along side them. If churches don’t take this threat seriously, they will soon find themselves as victims.
Thirdly and in my opinion one of the most important things you can do is provide ongoing training to your staff and volunteers regarding cybersecurity. You need to create and promote a culture of cybersecurity safety by discussing the possibilities for attack and training your team to properly handle an attack.
Teach them how to recognize a phishing email. How to set stronger passwords. What info not to share on social media, etc.
Most churches depend very heavily on volunteers and not everyone understands the level of threats that may exist. Training will help to level the playing field by ensuring everyone with access to your network understands the importance of cybersecurity.
Cyber threats are ever changing, and it will take diligence to stay ahead of those that would try to take advantage of you. Federal, state and local governments are discovering new threats and vulnerabilities every day. It’s important that churches begin to seriously look at cybersecurity and take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.