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Church Network Security – Cyber Security for Real, Simple Things

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“When it comes to church network security, we must also resist the tendency to miss the little things . . .”

As a family, we’ve recently been challenged in coping with the loss of three loved ones. The most sorrow-filled challenge has been grieving the sudden passing of my mother-in-law (“Grandma”). Grandma will always be remembered for her kind-hearted, loving, and positive attitude. She loved her birthday, cheering her hometown baseball team, and she never missed a chance to visit a county fair. However, despite all the beautiful and wonderful memories, it is the little things that often went underappreciated that we miss most.

With our increased attendance of funerals lately, my brain must be attuned to the topic, because I came across an article the other day explaining a tragedy within a tragedy — it highlighted recent occurrences of condolence cards stolen at funerals. (People stealing the cards for the money that might be in them.)

Likewise, in the “big picture” of cybersecurity, planning and protecting for the future is essential. But when it comes to church network security, we must also resist the tendency to miss the little things, and in today’s article, I mean the physical risks of keeping our networks safe in the moment. I’m talking about physical items, such as locks, doors and access control cards. It’s a far-off concept to imagine for most church-goers, but the reality of harm and people purposely choosing it is there.

Focusing merely on guest service systems, here are a few examples:

1. Check-in stations are housed in lockable cabinets designed for the safety of the computer and the printer, which prints the guest stickers. The doors on these carts are seldom locked: meaning the contents stored are readily accessible for attacks and mischief. Access to USB drives make keyloggers, data-stealing Trojans, and other forms of malware an unfortunate possibility. If tablets are preferred, they’re rarely locked or chained, and over time fall into the wrong hands.

  1. Barcode-based cards are created for the simplification of entering passwords and speeding up the process of checking in visitors. Despite setting highly secure passwords, if these cards are accidentally misplaced, left in the open, or stored in an unlocked cabinet the likelihood of a cybersecurity breach is greatly increased.
  2. Placement of public terminals should also be in open areas — not tucked away in a corner of a hall.

The best safeguard against all security threats is to know your staff. Take the time to get to know which users may be prone to forgetfulness or outright ignore security policies.

Security seems to be a thread that weaves through every area of my life. I stand by the mantra that being proactively protected makes all the difference. Whether at a remembrance service, or in our place of worship, and our homes: be smart and be safe. Don’t miss the little things! And with the people in our lives too: don’t miss the “little things” that will one day be big memories.

This article was published in MinistryTech Magazine. Subscribe for free.