How to Identify Your Church's Biggest risks through cyber security

Running a church and keeping it safe is not easy, especially not in this day and age. Data breaches are extremely common and widespread in the age of the internet. You’d think that a church is relatively safe from these Cybersecurity attacks because most people target financial and political organizations, right? You’d be wrong!

Until 2015, a sizable chunk of the daily hacks performed were against religious organisations. This data here shows how 3.4% of the daily hacks were actually a nefarious plot against churches. Keep up to date on major cybersecurity breaches

People target churches for multiple reasons, it can be to steal intellectual information as well including but not limited to names, social security numbers, personal addresses etc, Identity theft is not a joke.

The good news for you guys is that you can take steps to ensure that it does not happen to your church. I will be guiding you God-loving people to safety from this terrible crime.

Acknowledging The Danger

How to Identify Your Church's Biggest risks through cyber security

The first step in fixing anything is acknowledging the problem, therefore we’ll assist you identify your issue, which is the first step in enhancing your church’s cyber security and determining where the hacker is targeting you.

In fact, regardless of their size, the following are some important reasons that can put churches at risk: some of your private data, such as people’s (names, dresses, social contacts, places of birth, and so on.

We will provide you with solid frameworks and the best services to keep you from fraudulent activities since we have found in several churches that most of them lack the staff and resources to develop excellent cybersecurity systems.

Creating A Culture of Security

How to Identify Your Church's Biggest risks through cyber security

Strong Information System Controls Should Be Implemented

How to Identify Your Church's Biggest risks through cyber security

A complete list of network and data security controls should be developed and maintained by your church’s IT department. Although the IT department is responsible for this, it is beneficial for leaders to have a basic understanding of the challenges so that they can ask pertinent questions and ensure that the proper steps are implemented.

Here are a few things that would do you good if you were aware of them.

  • Perimeter security:Firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and intrusion prevention systems all fall into this category. These should be configured with the necessary limits to filter and block any potentially hazardous incoming and outgoing Internet traffic.
  • Endpoint Security: This safeguards servers and workstations by requiring each network device to meet certain criteria before being permitted network access. Administrative access restrictions and anti-virus protection are among these safeguards.
  • Authentication Measures: Complex passwords that expire on a regular basis should be required, as should restrictions (such as lock-out) after a certain number of failed login attempts. These safeguards should be implemented across the network and all-important systems, particularly cloud-based services that may be accessed from anywhere.
  • Patches And Updates: Your IT department should create an inventory reconciliation process to verify that all systems are protected. A procedure for keeping all operating systems and applications up to date at all times should be in place.
  • Network Security: All IT systems are monitored on a regular basis, including network traffic and system resources.
  • Wireless Restriction: To assist prevent unwanted access to critical files, WiFi provided to church visitors should be separated from the principal WiFi network used by the administrative office, in addition to other wireless security and restrictions.
  • Emergency Response Plan: Your church should have incident response plans in place that include thorough response protocols in the event of a cyberattack.

Identify Any Existing Risks and Put Your Controls to The Test

How to Identify Your Church's Biggest risks through cyber security

The measures outlined above are critical for preserving cybersecurity, but it’s also critical to conduct independent testing on a regular basis to identify and solve any existing vulnerabilities. Identity theft can be a serious issue and to prevent against it, these measures are necessary

This testing consists of two parts.

Vulnerability testing, in which a variety of systems are automatically checked to see whether any known flaws exist. The data is then evaluated to identify serious security flaws.

Information security controls testing determines whether you have the necessary safeguards, processes, and procedures in place, and, if so, if they are working properly.

Don’t be fooled into believing that there is a single “magic” control that can secure your church. The key to adequate protection is to layer many controls so that if one fails, one or more secondary controls are in place to protect the asset.

Enforced Security Policies Should Be Implemented

How to Identify Your Church's Biggest risks through cyber security

Make a list of your expectations and be explicit about the “dos and don’ts” of technology. Everyone, from the most senior positions to part-time volunteers, should be required to study, review, and strictly adhere to the security standards.

That is to say, all of the time! The importance of consistency cannot be overstated. We appreciate that senior executives in many firms prefer to have a separate set of “less stringent” regulations that solely apply to them.

Ignoring established policies in other areas of the ministry may not have a significant impact, but it can mean disaster in the world of cybersecurity. One shortcut or “workaround” is all it takes to produce unintended but severe harm. Help users by mandating basic security features like device encryption and passcodes/PINs to be implemented on all devices with access to your data.

Requiring users to utilise multi-factor authentication will also help to ensure that stolen credentials do not provide simple access to your systems.

Finally, we advocate using a password manager, which allows users to easily create unique, complicated passwords while also enforcing password policies and standards.

Implement Disk Encryption

How to Identify Your Church's Biggest risks through cyber security

The majority of consumers now have laptops as well as mobile devices (phones, tablets, etc.). Encryption mechanisms and tools are included into every vendor’s product. Use and administer these tools to ensure that all devices that contain YOUR data maintain it secured. That way, if a device is lost or stolen, no data is lost or compromised.

It makes it so your important data cannot be deciphered by unauthorized people by converting it into an unreadable code.

Check To See If SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) Works for You

Every keystroke you press and every action you take on your computer, as well as all network activity, can be logged. Many compliance procedures, including HIPAA, PCI, and NIST 800-171, demand that all system-level log files be gathered and evaluated. This means that any log data from your firewall, network switches, servers, and even individual user workstations must be compiled and stored in an off-device place in an immutable manner.

Maintaining that data storage is difficult, but the information included in these logs is invaluable in spotting security flaws in your environment. SIEM tools are intended to assist in the aggregation of all of this log data. The tools also aid in the analysis and evaluation of data by looking for questionable behaviour patterns. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack while seeking for info in these logs.

Working with a SIEM provider who can help you aggregate, filter, and flag questionable behaviour is a wonderful way to get a second set of eyes on your network’s health. SIEM vendors will send you alerts about stuff you should look into.

They can more accurately identify what looks ‘safe’ and what looks ‘suspicious’ because they have seen these suspicious activity patterns in many other client environments. This allows you to focus your time on investigating only the suspicious elements.

Determine What Is Most Important

Understanding what your digital assets are and where they are located is a crucial first step in securing them. After all, how can you begin to safeguard something if you don’t know what you have and where it is?

The following are some steps that businesses should consider:

Connect objectives/products/services/processes to the people, processes, technology (including applications, middleware, major platform and network infrastructure), and data flows (paying special attention to what information is most important and where it flows) that support them.

All third parties who handle systems/data on your behalf should be included (this is also a good opportunity to examine contracts/SLAs to ensure they include cyber risk).

Establish a comprehensive technological asset management programme that incorporates all of the assets listed above and ranks/classifies them in a centralised asset inventory according to their criticality to your organisation.

Note: Work conducted for Business Continuity Planning (BCP) and/or Disaster Recovery (DR) may be applicable, as both require an understanding of essential assets in order to plan for more traditional hazards.

Recognize The Threats

Threat actors (cyber criminals, malicious insiders, and so on) vary in skill and complexity, as well as in their willingness to change based on the worth of the prize they aim to exploit.

You will be of interest to one or more threat actors depending on the nature of your sector, the environment in which you operate, and the digital assets your company owns. It is critical to learn as much as possible about them in order to guard against them.

Steps which churches should consider include

  • Establish a Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) capability that allows you to identify and comprehend the top 5-10 threat actors and potential attack scenarios (these are your main cyber risks) and record them in a risk register (using intelligence sources/feeds).
  • Know who your adversaries are and why they’re attacking you (money, ideology, competitive advantage, etc.).
  • Understand how they might attack you in detail – this usually entails sketching out the attack lifecycle for the most common attacks (e.g., ransomware, fraud, website defacement, and so on).
  • Use this knowledge to focus your efforts on the best ways to safeguard the digital assets at risk, as well as your capacity to identify and respond to the most common attack scenarios.
  • To assist inform and lead your cyber risk management programme, repeat this risk assessment procedure on a regular basis.

Remember That Cybersecurity Is Evolving

Cyber threats are continually evolving, and every day, a staggering number of new vulnerabilities are found. It’s critical to ensure that the right controls and processes are in place and that new risks are detected and addressed once they’ve been implemented.

The more layers there are in cybersecurity, the better. The recommended practises outlined above will assist you in layering numerous controls so that if one fails, others will safeguard your church.

Cybersecurity is one of the digital age’s fastest-growing challenges. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of our increasingly interconnected society, looking for new ways to steal your data. Data breaches and cyber-attacks are on the rise, posing serious threats to your business.

It’s more important than ever to understand cybersecurity and the range of threats it poses, from phishing and malware to data and identity theft and more. Safe digital practises are promoted, implemented, and enforced by organisational leaders, personnel, and volunteers. Always remember to Think Smart, Act Fast.

Conclusion

The importance of Cybersecurity is only increasing as the Internet and everything on it takes more prevalence in our day-to-day life, all organisations including churches must get with the times to protect themselves and their members from identity theft. We at JCS computer firmly believe that we have what it takes to protect your sacrilegious church against any and all malicious attacks and intent.

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