No amount of cyberliability insurance coverage can protect a church against a damaged reputation and loss of trust. That’s why it’s important to take steps to keep data breaches and other technological mishaps from happening in the first place. “Prevention is extremely important, and it doesn’t have to be that expensive,” stressed Nick Nicholaou, president of Ministry Business Services, Inc., a team of IT strategists serving ministries.
Something as innocent as offering free public wireless networking can get a church in trouble, according to Nicholaou.
Nicholaou gives the example of a Missouri church that neither password-protected nor adequately managed its open Wi-Fi by turning it off when it wasn’t needed. “There was a guy that was pulling into their parking lot in the evenings, and he was distributing child porn through their public Wi-Fi connections,” Nicholaou said. “When the FBI determined what the IP address the child porn was coming from, they knew it was such-and-such church, so they swooped in and confiscated all the computers” and the church’s servers.
Even though no one with the church was involved in the crime, the church ended up on the news and staff members lost access to their computers for months. “That was a very heavy cost for that church, and it could have been prevented very easily and for almost no cost,” he said.
Along with addressing potential hacking and cybercrimes, churches also must work hard to maintain their integrity in copying and sharing information online, said Frank Sommerville, an attorney and editorial advisor for Church Law & Tax Report. “No church would knowingly steal someone else’s property and use it in their newsletter,” he said. “But [they think], ‘Oh, it’s on the internet, so it must be free.’”