Churches can also be a target of cyber criminals. Thousands of attacks happen every day, successful ones can cost organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars, and over half of small businesses soon close following a successful cyberattack.
Fortunately, there are effective measures you can take to prevent hackers, scammers, and other ne’er-do-wells from compromising your network, stealing information, and harming your church, employees, or members.
Here are a few of our recommendations:
- Protect your network with security software and keep this software up-to-date. A quality firewall is a must. As is encryption for your sensitive files.
- Install quality antivirus and anti-malware software on all computers used for company purposes, and set up regular scans.
- Back-up your databases on a regular basis. If your files are ever compromised, you don’t want to lose everything. Having a recent backup will enable you to restore your data so you can continue to operate.
- Train employees on your internet safety and security policy and procedures, your security software, recognizing potential security threats, and creating strong passwords. Training also should include your response plan.
- Regarding passwords, avoid dictionary words. Use multiple letters, numbers, and symbols. Phrases or long acronyms are especially hard to ascertain or break.
- Note in your policy what security measures employees should follow when they’re out of the office and not using your firewall and secure network.
- Be extremely cautious of unexpected emails that ask you to click a link to log into an account to update information or fix a problem. These are likely fake and designed to steal valuable information.
- Never enter credit card numbers or other valuable information on a website that is not secure. If a website is secure, its URL will begin with HTTPS, instead of just HTTP. You should also double check that you’re on the site you intend to be on whenever entering such information.
- Never, ever email sensitive employee information such as W-2s, benefit enrollment forms, or anything with social security or credit card numbers. Email databases and accounts are inherently insecure, and if malicious parties get access they can often see or get everything.
- Scammers may also pose as executives or employees to steal information. If you receive a request to email any such sensitive information, do not respond to it.
- When getting rid of physical documents with sensitive information, use a secure shredding company to ensure proper disposal and that documents related to an employee’s identity are secure.
- When getting rid of hardware or donating it, completely wipe its hard drives and storage. You don’t want someone finding an old church laptop, thumb drive, or computer and gaining access to information stored on it.
Clergy Financial Resources serves as a resource for clients to help analyze the complexity of clergy tax law, church payroll & HR issues. Our professionals are committed to helping clients stay informed about tax news, developments and trends in various specialty areas.
This article is intended to provide readers with guidance in tax matters. The article does not constitute, and should not be treated as professional advice regarding the use of any particular tax technique. Every effort has been made to assure the accuracy of the information. Clergy Financial Resources and the author do not assume responsibility for any individual’s reliance upon the information provided in the article. Readers should independently verify all information before applying it to a particular fact situation, and should independently determine the impact of any particular tax planning technique. If you are seeking legal advice, you are encouraged to consult an attorney.
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