Cyber Risk Might Destroy Your Ministry

In most churches today it is easy to see the extensive use of technology in worship services, as well as the daily operation of the church. Laptops, iPods, music and communication audio equipment, high cost video recording cameras are readily visible in the sanctuary. For operations, accounting and word processing software and the use of various databases make the daily work much easier. An area in which churches are advancing is the storage of member information on databases, which may or may not be kept onsite.

Today many state laws require organizations/institutions to ensure that data stored in databases and that, which is in transit via the Internet, email, faxes etc. is properly protected. These laws also require you to notify and protect the individual if personal information has been released or stolen. Your ministry is at risk for some of the following:

  • Hackers
  • Rogue Employees
  • Independent Contractors
  • Human Error
  • Social Media
  • Mobile Devices
  • Cloud Computing
  • A Changing Regulatory Environment

The cost to respond to an event can be as much as $200 per individual. These costs would include; Legal, notification, credit monitoring, and even identity theft coverage for the individuals who information was exposed.

According to Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company, there are a few things your ministry can do in advance to reduce the likelihood of a loss.

  • Perform monthly backups of business and financial information and store it in a secure, off-site location, such as a safe deposit box?
  • Do you have policies in place to protect confidential information like contribution records, counseling notes, and other sensitive information?
  • Do you have policies in place to report data breaches in accordance with state law and to protect your ministry from legal action?
  • Do you password-protect financial records?
  • Do you change computer passwords frequently?
  • Do you work with a qualified computer support company to secure your computer systems?
  • Do you update virus and spyware protection software?
  • Have you installed hardware and software firewalls that are designed to prevent unauthorized access to your computer network?

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