Cybersecurity tips for churches

It’s natural for people to think that they won’t be victims of cyberattacks. Most of the news surrounding hacking and data breaches involves large corporations, but that is because that’s where a high number of victims are affected. Hackers may find they have an easier time going after smaller organizations that aren’t prepared for a security breach. In fact, churches are a growing target for cybersecurity threats. While they might get less information from smaller organizations, thieves will have an easier time accessing that information.

If your church keeps any time-sensitive information on a computer network—whether that is personal information, credit card info, or other vital data—you need to ensure your cybersecurity is top-notch, so you, your church and your members are fully protected.

Here are some tips for enhancing your cybersecurity.

1. Keep your staff informed

The unfortunate truth is that human error is one of the portholes through which hackers can attack your church. Staff are constantly hooked up to your network, whether that’s through email, church computers, or home devices.

Make sure you have security protocols for accessing your network, and ensure your volunteers are aware of them. Keep a checklist handy that your staff—and anyone who accesses your network—can access. Regularly update your policies to reflect the new techniques cybercriminals develop.

Here are some questions to ask: Are there rules about when staff can be connected to your network or what they can do while connected? Do you have policies about password protection? Are staff allowed to take church laptops and tablets home with them? If so, what are the rules around doing so?

2. Update your network regularly

Your computers, network and system should be updated regularly. These updates provide additional protection for your church. As developers become aware of new threats, they create programs designed to prevent the latest hacker techniques and spread those through updates. Old, outdated networks are easier for hackers to access.

In addition to updating your network, take the time to regularly inspect your system for weaknesses and take the steps to address those vulnerabilities.

3. Be aware of information breaches

It isn’t just credit card information that hackers are after. Personal information, passwords, and other sensitive data can be sold and used for fraudulent purposes. Your church may not collect credit card and other payment information, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have data that’s valuable for hackers.

If you have any information that could be bought, used for fraud or identity theft, or used for extortion, you need to take steps to protect that information.

Once your network has been hacked, you risk losing your members’ trust. Once that trust is gone, it’s hard to get it back.

4. Keep up-to-date on the latest scams and threats

Monitor the media and security sites to keep yourself informed about the latest techniques being used by scammers so that you’ll be better able to identify them if they approach you. For example, phone calls to your church asking for information, or that there is an issue with your computers that the caller can help fix.

Final thoughts

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because you run a small church or don’t collect payment information that your business is safe from hackers. There is a lot of private information available that hackers and thieves can use to make money from, and churches small and large are targets.

Be aware of vulnerabilities in your system and take the steps to address them, before it’s too late.

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Got a question about your church? Get in touch to find out how we can help.