The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released the Mitigating Attacks on Houses of Worship Security Guide and Fact Sheet to help houses of worship understand and mitigate potential threats. Houses of worship face a breadth of threats on a daily basis, and the security guide makes a number of recommendations based on an analysis often years of data on targeted attacks on houses of worship. Threats range from physical attacks such as active shooter incidents, arsons, or bombings to less visible cyberattacks.
“CISA has a strong partnership with faith-based communities and today’s release of the Mitigating Attacks on the Houses of Worship Security Guide furthers that partnership to share best practices to make our nation’s houses of worship more safe and resilient,” said CISA Acting Assistant Director for Infrastructure Security Scott Breor.
The best way to mitigate a potential attack is to take a holistic approach to security. This requires assigning clear roles and responsibilities for making security decisions, planning, and implementing the procedures and capabilities across the organization. A robust security plan should be tailored to the specific needs and priorities of the house of worship.
To develop and implement sound security practices, CISA recommends the following options for consideration:
- Establish a multi-layered plan for security, identifying clear roles and responsibilities for developing and implementing security measures.
- Create emergency action plans, business continuity plans, and incident response plans that are well communicated and exercised with the Safety Team for complete understanding.
- Conduct a vulnerability assessment to understand the risks to the house of worship from which you may prioritize implementing any subsequent safety measures.
- Build community readiness and resilience by establishing an organizational culture of caring where all members and visitors are properly supported, and credible threats are reported through previously identified channels.
- Apply physical security measures to monitor and protect the outer, middle, and inner perimeters, while respecting the purpose of each area of the house of worship.
- Focus on the safety of children by implementing safety measures around childcare, daycare, and schools.
- Implement cybersecurity best practices to safeguard important information and prevent a potential cyberattack.
These security options will not deter every threat to a house of worship, but a comprehensive security approach offers the best solution to protect people and property from an attack. Houses of worship should tailor this knowledge to account for their unique security needs while ensuring the inherent open and welcoming values are maintained.
For more information and to access the guide and quick reference sheet, visit www.cisa.gov/faith-based-organizations-houses-worship.