23 Sep Digital Security For Churches: How to Prevent a Cybersecurity Threat
Not long ago, an Ohio church lost an alarming $1.75 million due to hackers breaching two employees’ email accounts.
After gaining control of the email accounts, the hackers were able to pretend to be the employees and deceived other workers at the church that the bank and wiring instructions had been changed.
By the time the church had figured out what was going on, it was too late.
As you can see, based on this example, churches — just like any other organization — are extremely susceptible to attacks from hackers and scammers.
The key to avoiding a similarly tragic situation as this one is to ensure that your church is well prepared for any cybersecurity threat that comes your way.
To help you and your church out, here are four tips to help prevent a cybersecurity threat for your church.
Understand the Different Types of Hacking and Scam Methods
There is a laundry list of ways in which a hacker can try and infiltrate your systems. Here are some of the main ways, as well as signs to look for to see if anyone is trying these methods on you.
While there are many different subsets of ‘hacking,’ they are all very similar in terms of how they work. Essentially, hacking is when a scammer attempts to gain access to personal information your church possesses. To achieve this, they’ll use some sort of technology to break into your network.
Signs to look for when it comes to hacking:
- Missing files that appear to have been removed
- A large number of pop-ups
- An increase in your internet or phone bills
- The inability of some employees to log on to accounts — likely meaning a password was changed without them knowing.
Phishing involves the hacker attempting to pose as a legitimate company or organization and will try and trick churches into giving them their usernames and passwords by claiming that the employee’s account has been compromised.
You may think that this wouldn’t be a very effective tactic, and it may not be as many organizations, churches and companies can decipher a legit email from one that isn’t. But scammers that use this tactic go for quantity over quality. In Q3 of 2018, there were 270,557 phishing attacks reported — this according to Phishing Activity Trends Report. The idea here is that you’re bound to find some people who will fall victim to it if you send out enough fake emails.
Signs to look for when it comes to phishing emails:
- Suspicious and nosy requests
- Grammatical errors
Malware and Ransomware
Malware and ransomware commonly get confused for being the same, but they are actually quite different from one another.
First, malware scams involve someone attempting to trick you into installing software that scammers can then use to access your systems.
Ransomware, on the other hand, is when a hacker will try and block you from accessing certain files or even your system altogether. As the name suggests, they try and get you to pay ransom to gain control again.
Signs to look for to avoid malware and ransomware attacks:
- Excessive amounts of pop-ups
- Extremely slow computers
- Your computer starts to download the software without your approval
Assign Someone to Be in Change of Digital Security
So, now that you are well-versed in the different tactics that scammers will use to try and gain control of your church systems, you’re going to need to have someone who can be in charge of your digital security.
Having an IT professional on staff is a great way to manage your cybersecurity.
Make Sure Employees Are Trained in on Best Security Practices
Anyone who has the ability to access your church’s online systems NEEDS to be well-versed in the best practices for when it comes to maintaining the integrity of your cybersecurity.
In terms of resources you can use, there are plenty of third-party IT companies that will come in and train your staff in on digital security.
For example, there are phishing and security awareness solutions out there, where these third-party organizations will run phishing scam simulations and determine how many employees fell for the scams by seeing who clicked on the emails. Then, you can take proper actions to teach these employees about their mistakes.
Or, you can simply run a phishing scam simulation on your own.
Stay Up-to-Date on the Cyber Security Industry
We are in the golden age of technology.
This is both a good and bad thing.
On the bright side, there are many great things we can do as technology continues to progress — such as making it easier to donate to victims of natural disasters all over the world.
Unfortunately, scammers and hackers are also using advancements in tech to become more crafty with their techniques.
Because of this, it is imperative that you stay up-to-date on the cybersecurity industry, particularly any emerging threats within it.
There many great cybersecurity blogs and publishers you can follow, including Krebs on Security, which is dedicated to investigating stories and happenings within the cybercrime industry.
Schneier on Security is another great one, where you’ll find information on internet security, hacking, and patching — as well as a considerable amount of safety tips throughout the blog.
mobileAxept — Your Safe and Secure Church Management Solutions Provider
Here at mobileAxept, we offer multiple solutions to help you keep your church organized and functioning to the highest degree.
This includes our ReachNow, GiveNow Text, and ConnectNow services.
Our solutions are top of the line when it comes to security, and making sure that you and your congregation’s information is safe is our top priority.
The payment processors mobileAxept works with have achieved the highest safety level by the Payment Card Industry (PCI Level 1 Compliant), so you can rest assured that you’ll be in good hands when you decide to partner up with mobileAxept.
Our GiveNow Text system is set up so that credit card information is stored securely behind the payment processor’s security architecture and that all information is heavily encrypted.
Your members can freely donate without having to worry about any of their personal data being compromised.
For more information on our church management solutions, reach out to us by filling out this brief form, where you can even request a free demo.
Or, call 888-500-1997.
We look forward to hearing from you!