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August 21, 2020
I remember when a pastor called me just from a few blocks down the road and basically said, "I want you to build us a new website, but it's really important that you not go to our current website."
And usually pastors say that cause they're embarrassed. But he said: "It's actually linking to a super inappropriate site over in China right now. We've just got hacked and so I need you not to go there and I don't want anyone else to go there. So we need something done ASAP."
And sadly that story was actually not that uncommon.
With so many websites out there commonly built on WordPress there's just a lot of vulnerabilities that can come with it. Because it's open source software, which means everyone has access to the code, which means all the holes in the software are also visible to people.
And so it's sadly a bit too common that we get told from churches that they've been hacked in one way or another and so that they need some help. And often this comes with churches that maybe take the cheaper option of hosting their own websites and also kind of managing their own code base. Which not a lot of churches have that IT team or web developer on staff to keep things right up-to-date. And so web hosting and security are such an important part of making sure your website is secure, but also making sure that it works well the way it needs to. One of the challenges can just be budget if it means paying a little bit more than you're currently paying. I think so often churches will try to find the cheapest option, but that can often have hidden costs. And so again, if it means that eventually your site is going to be hacked and have something inappropriate put on it, that costs might end up being more than what the few extra dollars per month could have been.
Or maybe a volunteer generously offered to set it all up for you. And so they're the ones who currently manage your hosting, but that option falls short as well. When they maybe get busy and don't have the time to really take care of the servers and manage them for you. And so there's kind of that relational tension of well can we take it away from them? What does that look like? But at the end of the day, if it's the security and the stability of your website we're talking about, I think those are the tough conversations that can be worth having.
If you're looking to solve the problem of security and hosting with your website, I would first recommend kind of looking around at different options. Maybe Google, you can check out different online reviews and find people that are satisfied and happy with their current solution. There's also tons of great Facebook forums where people are having these discussions and you can ask around and at the end of the day if people can report happiness and good uptime and fast websites, then you're in a good spot to probably look at a new solution.
Another thing I'd really recommend there is to find a service where there's real people that you can talk to that are happy to help. Because I think so often when some of these cheaper options go down is you can't actually find anyone to get ahold of. Because there's no one on the other end of the line, support tickets can take days to respond to and so all of a sudden when that bad moment happens, you can be left with no one there to help you. So I think finding a service that really values customer support, values having real people to talk to in the moments of crisis can be really, really important. I think one trap that a lot of churches can fall into, especially with some of the bigger companies that we would see out there whether it's in Facebook ads or we're seeing them on billboards, is some of these really large companies that just by sheer scale can charge a few dollars a month for their hosting services and they can be the easy ones to jump onto.
But I think those are the ones that we see often can lack that actual personal relationship when it comes time when you really need help. Maybe you're directed to some far off call center or again, maybe it's like a submit your support ticket here and we'll do our best to help when we can. But even that, I think if you lack that relational connection to your hosting company, you might find that they're not really that motivated to help you in your time of need. So again, just like you would with any local service provider, you want to have a relationship and know the people that you're asking to secure and host your website. I think in regards to website hosting, it can be common to fall back to something we used to do many years ago of just everything we did ourselves. We set up our own hosting, we set up servers, but we're just watching those services evolve a lot more now where you can actually be part of a website ecosystem.
Where you actually are on a server with many other sites where through a service you subscribe to, you're actually taken care of. They're already looking after the hosting. They're looking after the security and so they're not relying on you to take care of it yourself. Because often again, churches just don't have that IT person there who can make those regular updates and that's one of the things that's been really important to us with Tithe.ly Sites, is making sure that our servers are taken care of. They have all the necessary efficiencies built in. Security patches are getting added on all the time, which means your website is going to be fast, secure, just peace of mind that it's going to work the way you need it to.
Read the full blog of this episode here: https://get.tithe.ly/blog/church-website-hacked
Today on Modern Church Leader, Tithe.ly Sites Product Owner Matt Morrison explains the critical steps you need to take to keep your church website from getting hacked.
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