Home Christian News Pastor John Gray to Ransomware Attackers: ‘Leave the Things of God Alone’

Pastor John Gray to Ransomware Attackers: ‘Leave the Things of God Alone’

john gray
Screenshot from YouTube / @RelentlessChurch

John Gray, senior pastor of Relentless Church in Greenville, South Carolina, has vowed not to let a recent ransomware attack impede his ministry. After the nondenominational megachurch faced an April 29 online breach, it enlisted a security team to investigate and to protect private information.

Nearby Spartanburg County was also targeted by a ransomware attack recently, but authorities haven’t indicated if the cases are connected.

John Gray: ‘You’re Attacking the God That We Serve’

During a ransomware attack, perpetrators threaten victims by blocking, publishing, or corrupting their data unless a ransom is paid. Relentless Church hasn’t indicated what type of data might have been targeted and/or compromised—or what type of ransom was demanded (or whether the church paid it).

“We are very confident that our data is secured, and our congregation’s information is protected,” Pastor Gray said in a statement. He also indicated that malicious entities would not intimidate or slow down the church. “We’re going to continue with ministry as usual,” he said, “and we’re not going to allow this to stop us or hinder us in any way.”

To the people or group responsible for the ransomware attack, Gray said, “Anyone who would seek to harm a church, you’re not attacking us. You’re attacking the God that we serve, and you don’t want to go against him.” The pastor added, “If I were you, I’d leave the things of God alone, and make an honest living instead of trying to steal from people who are doing their best to live a right, upright life.”

Data Breach Can Be ‘Catastrophic’

Speaking to TV station WYFF4, technology expert Danny Tang said, “People think [ransomware] attacks happen from some guy in the basement with a screen of code coming down typing away, penetrating some technology with their technical expertise. That’s usually not how this happens. It happens through an email that comes from a malicious actor pretending to be someone that the recipient trusts.”

Although ransomware attacks are on the rise, churches don’t usually tend to be victimized, according to Tang. That doesn’t mean congregations shouldn’t be prepared, however. “In the event of a breach, it can be very catastrophic for an organization,” Tang said. He recommends treating any suspicious-looking emails with care, verifying information by calling the sender, and backing up vital data on an additional, off-site server.