I have previously talked about the serious issue of ‘computer hacking’ – when someone (or something) unauthorized to do so, gains access to your computer website.
It’s a serious issue because this unauthorized person will be able to make changes to the material found on, and functioning of, your website.
And it’s not just happening to the ‘big guys’. My church, and a few others I partner with, have been hacked.
Even more problematic is that hacking is increasing. According to 2015 data from the UK, ¾ of small businesses have suffered from some kind of security issue.
For churches, hacking is serious because more than any money issues, hacking can affect a vital aspect of your church – its good reputation.
Think of your website as your virtual welcome mat at the entrance to your digital door. What does this mat look like?
- Is it torn and muddy, discouraging people from crossing over and entering?
- Does it have inappropriate pictures giving the wrong message?
- Perhaps there is no mat at all – it’s been blown away or stolen.
What, then, does this say about the church and the people who run it? Not only will people forget about reading your blogs or watching your sermons – they won’t feel confident about paying you an online tithe.
Fair or not, Internet surfers who find a website that ‘turns them off’ or is ‘turned off’, almost never visit that website again. It’s like your digital dirty underwear.
Ready to find out if it needs ‘cleaning’?
We recommend running this check RIGHT NOW.
Of course, no program or person can detect all potential issues with your website with 100% accuracy but this check is a good start to understanding your site’s status.
Once your site has a clean bill of health, we recommend following these steps.
- Own your domain name. When you are the owner, you will have ready access to your website for a quick ‘shut down’ if attacked.
- Back things up. ‘Back up’ means saving daily copies of your website pages and data. In the event of a hack, your website will use its back ups to quickly return to an uncorrupted version.
- Educate your tech team. Many people have weak passwords which are easily found. Your church website tech team should be taught how to create strong passwords and how to keep them safe. Software such as lastpass.com and 1Password can help.
- Create a ‘hacked action plan’. Similar to an evacuation plan (what to do in case of fire or other emergency), your church tech team needs a plan in case of a website hacking. Do they temporarily close the website? Do they call the hosting company? What if they can’t get through to that hosting company?
- Less is safer. Many people feel that the more ‘stuff’ on a website, the better it is. We’re not sure. What we do know is that every add-on or plugin is a potential ‘doorway’ for a hacker. When adding something, look at the complete picture, considering value vs. risk.
- Keep it current. Outdated software is a hacker’s dream come true. Routinely update your system and all its components.
- Hire professional guards. Reputable companies such as Sucuri, monitor, analyze, and clean up websites so that they are less vulnerable to hacking. If a hack does occur, they take immediate steps to minimize any damage.
This will also help you do a website audit and create a plan for strengthening your website’s fortifications against a hacking assault.
Want to share any experiences or thoughts about hacking? Have a question about the subject?
Love to hear from you – add a comment or question in the comment section below.