Free Wi-Fi has become commonplace in many venues, from coffee shops and bookstores to auto repair shops and laundromats. Now churches are providing the same service.
A few of the ways churches have begun to use wireless internet include:
While free Wi-Fi provides many benefits, it also carries risk. For example:
In each of these situations, the church could be held accountable for what has happened on its network.
In order to safely provide free Wi-Fi, churches should protect their administrative computers, put passwords in place, and prevent illegal Internet usage on their network.
Administrative computers often contain confidential information, like bank account numbers or information from counseling sessions. In the wrong hands, personally identifiable information can be used to steal the identities of the people who participate in your ministry.
To help protect the church’s administrative computers and data, create a Wi-Fi network for guests that is separate from the network used by staff members. The guest network should only have access to the Internet. See this article for more tips on safeguarding ministry data and computers.
A strong password makes for a safer network. Changing the password for administrative computers every six months decreases the likelihood of someone breaking into church files. Consider creating a password for the Wi-Fi network that you offer to church goers. Having a password also can help prevent people from accessing your Wi-Fi while they loiter nearby.
One way to keep the free wireless connection particularly secure is to change the password weekly. Some churches do this by announcing the new password each Sunday morning, and making it correlate with the sermon.
You or your church could be punished for what others do while utilizing your free wireless Internet connection. It’s important to prevent members of the church and community from using the church’s Internet connection illegally.
One way to help prevent illegal Internet usage is to require all visitors to agree to an Internet Usage Policy before using church Wi-Fi. Key terms in the policy could include:
To put your Internet Usage Policy into effect, ask users to agree to follow the policy before allowing them to use church Wi-Fi. You could obtain agreements by:
A content filter is another measure that can help prevent illegal Internet use. Cisco Umbrella, or similar services, can protect you and your ministry from liability by blocking websites that you don’t want people visiting while on the church’s Wi-Fi.
If you want to set up free Wi-Fi in a safe and secure way, and don’t know where to turn for help, Church IT Network has a live chat section on their website where churches can go to ask tech questions.
With preventative measures put in place, the growing trend of offering free Wi-Fi at church can continue to energize ministries. There’s no limit to the number of ways churches can use wireless Internet and handheld devices to spread the gospel message through their city, their country, and the world.
Thank you for your interest in Brotherhood Mutual. We appreciate the opportunity to provide your church or other ministry with an insurance quote and will reply to your request as soon as possible.
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