As we live more and more of our lives online, an increasing number of churches are having to hire administrative staff to run the church’s website and handle the personal information of its members.  While technology has enabled churches to significantly up their levels of outreach, this trend towards the digital has unfortunately also opened churches up to a new form of risk: cyberattacks.     Network security should be one of the top priorities of any church IT support team in order to protect the data of its members and keep its website up and running.  Luckily, you don’t need years of technical training in order to keep hackers’ mitts off your data.  Here are a few easy ways to secure your church network:

1. Keep Secure Passwords

In the early days of the internet, people could afford to be a little more lax when it came to deciding on computer passwords.  But Password1 isn’t going to cut it anymore, sadly.  Make sure you’re coming up with complex passwords that can’t easily be guessed.  You should also store your passwords in a safe and secure location rather than writing them down or keeping them within sight of the computer.  Password managing applications such as LastPass will store all of your passwords within the application, allowing you to access them all with the use of one master password.

2. Use Multi-Factor Authentication

You can further boost your network security with the use of multi-factor authentication.  If a hacker manages to steal one of your passwords through a data leak, they can easily break through into your church IT network and wreak all sorts of havoc.  By requiring multi-factor authentication in which a second device is required to access the system, you stop the would-be hackers in their tracks and help protect your network.

3. Use Anti-Virus Software

A virus is the last thing your church’s network needs.  Be proactive in protecting against viruses and malware by finding anti-virus software that fits your needs and your budget.  Whichever program you choose, make sure you stay on top of software updates so that it runs at its best.  You should also train your church IT support team to look out for suspicious emails and downloadable files that carry the warning signs for potentially containing a virus.

4. Look Into Cyber Insurance

There truly is insurance for everything.  If you’re concerned about the risk of cyberattacks, then you may want to look into purchasing cyber insurance.  This will help cover some of the costs your church will have to pay to recover from a cyberattack, virus, or malware.  Because many churches have access to sensitive data about their members, you’ll want to communicate with your insurance company to see what coverage level is best for your church.

5. Create A Strategy For Common Issues

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a dedicated church IT support team of paid experts who’ve received years of training on how to handle every little aspect of network security?  Unfortunately, many churches can’t afford to hire experts to handle the day-to-day running of their church IT network.  Most will depend on the services of one or two IT experts as well as church volunteers with a little technical know-how.     In order to keep things consistent and efficient, come up with a strategy for dealing with common issues that can arise such as the computer breaking down or the website going offline.  This gives everyone a list of concrete steps to follow to get things back online as quickly as possible and ensure that breakdowns happen as infrequently as possible.

6. Always Be Monitoring

When something goes wrong with your church IT network, it isn’t always readily apparent.  There’s nothing more embarrassing than discovering a hole in your network security by means of a cyberattack.  By running regular security assessments, your church IT support team can discover issues before they turn into full-blown disasters.

7. Keep Security Training And Testing Up To Date

As with most things technology-related, cybersecurity is constantly changing to keep up with software updates.  Make sure that every member of the church IT support team is receiving ongoing security training and testing.  This can help them figure out what danger signs to look out for and make your church IT network less vulnerable to a cyberattack.

8. Use Data Encryption

Data encryption is a handy little tool that’s built into most laptops and mobile devices nowadays.  This feature means that if a thief gets their hands on your smartphone, they can’t access much of the data on it without a password.  Make sure that all of your devices that have access to your church IT network have data encryption enabled.  That way, a lost phone doesn’t have to compromise network security.

9. Stay On Top Of Updates

We’ve all been there: that little notification hovers in the corner of your desktop telling you it’s time to install the latest update.  Would now be a good time?  You’re in the middle of something, so you click out of it, resolving to get to it later.  Rinse and repeat.  The unfortunate reality is that the more you delay these updates, the less secure your network will be.  Stay on top of updates and install them as quickly as possible in order to prevent hackers from taking advantage of holes in your security.

10. Back Up Your Data

One form of network security that people don’t often consider is what happens if your computer is physically destroyed.  Computers can break, get spilled on, or even burn in a fire, leaving you with no backup for your data.  To offset this potential risk, consider backing up your data in the cloud.  There are several different free and paid services such as CrashPlan Pro that will give you greater security in preventing the loss of data.   These simple tips can help you secure your church network so you can keep things running safely and smoothly. Want something more customized or have questions on how to secure your network? Contact Cenetric Network Services for a free consultation.