With so many important concerns occupying the time of church leaders, issues related to church computers can easily fall by the wayside. But cyber threats are just as much of a problem for churches as they are for other organizations. Any church that uses computer systems to conduct business should give thought to managing the risks that computers create.
The kinds of cyber threats a church may face depend on how it uses computers and other Internet-enabled devices, like cell phones. Examples include:
- Hackers attempting to steal church records, such as membership and donor lists, banking information or other financial data, and employee records.
- Attempts to install malicious code on the church’s systems.
- Efforts to shut down, redirect, or maliciously modify the content of a church’s website.
- Attempts to take over a church’s social media
Attacks like these could cause a wide range of problems for a church that isn’t prepared to confront them. Some problems may only lead to temporary frustration, such as if a church’s website is temporarily shut down. The most serious might be the loss of employee records. Identity theft, disclosure of personal information like medical records, and simple embarrassment are all potential problems that can arise from this sort of attack. A church can have legal obligations to keep some information confidential, which may not be excused in the event of a cyberattack.
Churches can take a few fairly simple steps to protect themselves from surprise cyberattacks:
- Keep software and systems updated.
- Invest in security software.
- Adopt and enforce policies governing how employees and volunteers use church systems.
- Adopt a clear policy governing who has access to passwords to critical systems and online accounts, including online banking and social media.
- Consider purchasing insurance against cyber threats.
The Church Law Center of California counsels religious and secular nonprofits on organizational and governance matters. If your church would like assistance crafting policies to protect itself from cyber threats, we can help you craft a strategy. Call us today at (949) 689-0437 or reach out to us through our contact page.