St Albans Cathedral takes steps to avoid cyber crime

St Albans Cathedral is taking steps to increase cyber security. Picture: Alan Davies

St Albans Cathedral is taking steps to increase cyber security. Picture: Alan Davies - Credit: Alan Davies

The Diocese of St Albans has taken steps to ensure that it is as immune as possible to the threats of phishing.

There are 60 staff members in the main office of the Diocese of St Albans, as well as a reach of 355 churches, 135 church schools, and thousands of local people.

Therefore, if one person is not aware of the risks of phishing, the consequences could be disastrous for the church organisation and all those that are linked with it.

Although cyber security may not immediately spring to mind when thinking of the church, phishing, a cyber-based attempt to obtain sensitive information through disguising yourself as someone trustworthy, is a risk that no one can avoid.

If an attack infiltrates just one user, the data and money of an organisation could be compromised.

As hacking has become increasingly high-tech, the Abbey, just like every other organisation, must take necessary steps to reduce the risk of an attack.

That is why Philip Townsend, IT and facilities officer at the Diocese's office, has taken the steps to train his colleagues against vicious phishing attacks.

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Using Hertfordshire-based IT company, Assign-IT's, phishing simulator 'Phish-IT', workers at the Diocese are trained on how to identify and prevent fraudulent attacks.

The simulator sends out regular 'scam' emails so users can become familiarised with how to spot the attacks.

While staff were briefed on the campaign before the assessment period started, Philip was shocked to see that so many people were not well versed in how to identify fraudulent emails. He noted that more of his colleagues than expected proved to be susceptible to phishing.

Despite this initial concern, Philip said: "It's working. The training is having the right effect: people who were getting caught out at first are not getting caught out any more.

"It has been an extremely useful exercise as it has pointed out there's more risk than you would imagine. People used to send suspicious emails to me, so it was hiding the fact that there were others who weren't doing it."

Following the assessment phase, Philip has seen a distinct improvement in results month on month, resulting in a decrease in the risk rating for the Diocese.