The Christian Reformed Church in North America has required all staff to complete annual cybersecurity training for years. Given the real threat that cybersecurity attacks (phishing, spoofing, identity theft, etc.) pose to anyone who uses technology (computers, cell phones, etc.), we wanted to provide a few options to our CRC churches to increase awareness and (hopefully) protect you from these types of attacks.
Following are a number of free training options that churches could consider for their staff:
According to the National Council on Identity Theft Protection, there is an identity theft case every 22 seconds in the United States. In Canada, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, almost 22,000 Canadians fell victim to COVID-19 related fraud, many who also suffered the theft of personal information. Most cases of identity theft originate with just a click: a link in an email, visiting a sketchy website, etc. We all want to believe that it could never happen to us, but here’s a story I recently heard about a missionary from the U.S. (not a CRC missionary). Let’s just call him Joe.
Joe was serving on a mission field overseas; his mail, bills, etc., went to a family member’s address in the U.S. Joe had multi-factor authentication on his accounts and thought he had no risk of identity theft.
Then he clicked. The click resulted in a hacker accessing his accounts. The hacker took his/her time making changes. They managed to get his social security number (perhaps from a data breach from another company where hackers sell the information), driver’s license number, and U.S. address. Social media may have helped with a date of birth. With this information they could go into accounts and change phone numbers associated with the accounts. They changed his address on his driver’s license.
It took a while before Joe realized that something was wrong. He could no longer control any transactions in his bank accounts. Because so much of his information was under the control of the hacker, they always seemed to be a step ahead of him. There were times that the hackers told authorities that Joe was the fraud.
The impact on Joe’s ministry was devastating. Joe had to return to North America for six months to resolve the issue. When all was said and done, Joe lost time on the mission field and between $20,000 and $30,000. Cybersecurity awareness is important.
For more information, check out this resource on protecting yourself from identity theft.