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Diocesan IT staffs network in Arlington
The second full day of the information systems conference concentrates on cybersecurity.
More than 100 information technology professionals from Catholic dioceses all over the United States and Canada met at the Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel July 31-Aug. 3 for an annual program organized by the Diocesan Information Systems Conference (DISC). DISC is an organization that works with dioceses to facilitate the free exchange of technology information; inform church leaders of the benefits, risks and challenges of technology; and build relationships with organizations that will enhance the value of technology to members. This year is the 28th conference gathering.
Bishop Ronald P. Herzog of the Diocese of Alexandria, La., began the second day of the conference by celebrating Mass for conference attendees at the hotel. He was assisted by Deacon Marques Silva, director of the Arlington diocesan Office of Child Protection, and Father John C. Rooney, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Shelby, Neb.
In his homily, Bishop Herzog spoke about the contrast of a 2,000-year-old church using technology that at times is just 24 hours old. Bishop Herzog is a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s communications committee.
He said that although he is obviously not an IT professional, he is interested in technology trends. In addition to his diocesan and USCCB duties, Bishop Herzog is the episcopal moderator of DISC.
The bishop wasn’t the only cleric at the conference. In addition to Father Rooney’s pastoral duties, he has some information technology responsibilities at the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., as well.
“I’m the IT guy at the Chancery,” he said.
Thursday’s general session speaker was Peter Trahon, section chief of the strategic outreach and initiative section in the FBI’s cyber division.
Trahon spoke on two topics — cybersecurity and the FBI’s online child exploitation prevention program.
Trahon said that cyberattacks originate from three main groups: terrorists, foreign governments and criminal gangs.
Many groups try to compromise individuals and companies through malicious emails. He said that not long ago, it was relatively easy to spot these emails. But they are getting more sophisticated. In the past, Trahon told people to only open emails from people they know, and never click on a suspicious link in the emails.
“Don’t even open your emails now,” he laughed.
New technologies like cloud computing and smartphones complicate the cybersecurity efforts. It’s the same with social media apps like Twitter and Facebook. Those applications can compromise personal privacy, he said.
Trahon said that organizations need to plan to make sure they are as safe as they can be from cyberattack. He advised everyone to put together a cybersecurity team and to have offsite backup for critical information.
He concluded his presentation by talking about the FBI’s Safe Online Surfing program for children and parents. The program educates parents and children on the dangers faced on the Internet and how to help prevent crimes against children.
Trahon put up a slide with quotes from famous technology people of past centuries on where technology was going. They had it wrong.
Charles H. Duell, commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office in 1899, reportedly said: “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”