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3 quick tips for improved cyber security for your religious organization

By The Glatfelter Team on August 1, 2018

Is your valuable information properly protected?

In 2011, CBS News reported the Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa, had raised funds totaling more than $680,000 to help the homeless and abused women.

But in just one moment, it was all gone.

The money was stolen by hackers through a cyber crime called account takeover fraud. Bishop Richard Pates of the church said, “It’s gone. You kind of have to take a deep breath and you have to trust in the Lord.”

Fortunately, the church’s bank and insurance provider covered the money they had worked so hard to raise, but many victims of cyber crime don’t have this luxury. The threat of cybersecurity is forcing pressure across all industries, but religious entities are high targets for hackers since their systems often hold financial and personal information of members. Your religious organization is in danger of being hit by cyber criminals like the ones who caused a disaster for the Diocese of Des Moines. Knowing about the tools that hackers use and the tactics that can help prevent their attacks are important parts of increasing your cybersecurity efforts—a vital task in today’s world.

A digital dark side

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How much of the Internet do you trust? It turns out that only 4 percent of the online world is actually safe. This amounts to about eight million pages of public information. The remaining 96 percent of the Internet—the dangerous portion—creates a space called the “Dark Web.” This digital universe is hidden from search engines and requires an anonymous browser to access. An article from CSOonline described the product line available for purchase within this space, which includes drugs, weapons, counterfeit money, subscription information, hacking software and much more. Many of these tools provide hackers the ability to breach data under the radar, as the average length of time it takes for a breach to be identified is 191 days. Taking action immediately will decrease the chances of your religious organization falling into the traps within this underground world.

Recipe for cyber protection

Start shielding your congregation and community from cyber criminals today. Follow these three prevention tactics to build better systems of protection:

  1. Develop smart passwords. This advice may seem a bit overused, but its importance in your cybersecurity efforts is unparalleled. Instead of randomized letters or personal words or sayings, professionals encourage using a mnemonic device representing a memorable sentence to protect your accounts. For example, if you traveled to Italy with your brother, Brandon, in 2005, use the phrase “I went to Italy with Brandon in 2005” to create your password containing all of the first letters: IwtIwBi2005!. Changing your passwords every six months and adding special characters are also highly advised.
  2. Be hesitant and cautions with your clicks. Phishing emails are regularly delivered to inboxes containing dangerous links, pop-ups and attachments. Before you click on these items, hover over the link to make sure you’ll be sent to a legitimate and safe site. Inform your members of the guidelines from KnowBe4 regarding “red flags” to look for in emails.
  3. Use updated software to protect your PCs. Renewing contracts with the provider of the computer security system you use is essential in making sure your accounts are guarded from hackers. Cyber threats are constantly evolving, so be sure to keep up with the growth of technological capabilities.

Cybersecurity is significant to the operation of your religious organization. Trusting that your information is kept safe will help your organization maintain focus on helping others. By encouraging strong password usage, caution when following links and using updated security software, your congregation can be better prepared to outsmart the hackers.

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The Glatfelter Team

When this team of rockstars isn't immersed in the process of researching how to reduce the risks your organization faces, we share stories of our pets, kids and favorite pizza toppings—on the daily.

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