What are cyber risks and what can your church do to protect themselves?
Though your church is unlikely to experience a serious attack, knowing how to react can minimise the impact and keep people safe. These special buildings are places of worship, meaning a balanced and proportionate approach to planning is necessary.
When looking for ways to minimise security risks at your Methodist church, it’s important to remember that each church is unique. Here are some tips to consider when creating a plan for your Methodist church:
Educate staff and volunteers on how to respond to suspicious mail or unidentified objects. Make sure a formal and recorded search plan has been introduced at opening and closing times to identify any suspicious activity or device.
Review security at entry points to your premises including vehicle access. Take a look at the appearance of existing door and window locks to see if they appear robust/suitable.
Check that intruder alarms, fire alarms and CCTV systems at your church meet your individual requirements. Are there identified blind spots that need to be addressed?
Ensure any appropriate background checks undertaken on new or existing staff and volunteers are carried out.
Don’t make life easier for attackers. Never allow ignition sources or other materials that could be used in an attack to be left inside or outside the building.
Keep in mind that extra attention and precautions are required as events are likely to attract higher footfall. Think about having dedicated staff for car parking and visitor conflicts. If an incident does occur, ensure you have appropriate debrief and counselling support available for your staff and volunteers.
Any suspicious activity should be reported to the police immediately. You can consult experts for guidance, regional police forces are now often supported by dedicated Counter Terrorism Advisor Teams.
As churches rely more on technology, there is a greater risk of cyber-attack. Cyber criminals are indiscriminate about the types of the organisation they target.