Churches and Data Security
Traditionally, people find churches to be safe from the world. However, we now hear stories in the news of cyber-security threats and data breaking with organizations. Churches are at risk as well concerning their data security.
We start by learning the differences between Information Systems (IS) and Information Technology (IT). Information Systems fall under the more programming side of things, whereas Information Technology deals with the computers, printers, and the hardware in the network of an institution.
They are an institution that has computers and network servers, employees, etc. Hence, there are things that churches do need to know that are related to data security. In such a context, what we want to do is try to create barriers to limit how easy it is for people to get access to all the information.
There are four items I want to touch on that are perfect for this purpose:
Log on Feature
To start off with any computer system, you’re able to set up a login to get access to that computer. All too often, people may set up a computer where you turn it on, you don’t have to log in, you can just start working. The concern there is if you use a third-party service to manage the church business, you may have those passwords saved in a web browser somewhere. So anybody could get access to that computer, and get access to that important information. It also helps to know that most operating systems have that inherent whether you have a PC or a Mac.
What do you mean by a third-party service?
It may refer to a cloud-based service that churches can use to manage the church information whether it’s budgeting or other parts of their ministry.
With using these computers, we want to make sure that we’re using the current version of these operating systems, and locally installed software. This is important because vendors will continue to publish security updates for those systems, so you want to make sure that you stay current.
We have applied the updates and patches, so now we have to create a layered approach of security which is the third item dealing with anti-virus or malware.
Malware is short for malicious software. You want a product that is something you can maintain a subscription with, and stay current because you got to get those updates all the time. A certain amount of malware is released a day, but this can always change. However, at the moment, around 350,000 pieces of malware are registered each day.
Despite creating all these extra layers of data security, things can still happen with computers where the computer just may physically fail itself.
You may be hit with some ransomware, which causes you to lose all your information. So, what you want to do is create some sort of backup strategy where you’re backing up the important information to an external drive of some sort that you can then put elsewhere.
One could always remove data from the external hard drive as well. Data destroyers can be purchased via data destruction companies such as Whitaker Brothers. Depending on the institution’s needs, equipment types and sizes can vary.
Now, we are not trying to say this is the comprehensive plan that you should put in place for cyber security, but these are things that you can do as a church leader or a pastor.
Remember, require your church staff to require a password for their computer, make sure all the computer systems are up to date so you can have the most recent version to help block malware or potential attacks. Also, look for a third-party antivirus malware, and lastly, back up your data. Make sure it’s accessible later if something bad were to happen to the computer so you do have access to the data.