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‘You’re attacking God’: Pastor John Gray’s church hit by ransomware attack

Relentless Church Pastor John Gray
Relentless Church Pastor John Gray | Instagram/John Gray

Relentless Church in South Carolina has suffered a ransomware attack and its head Pastor John Gray cautioned the culprits, warning, “You’re not attacking us, you’re attacking the God that we serve.”

Upon discovering an external attack on the church’s servers, Gray told NBC News affiliate WYFF in Greenville that the church's IT team took immediate action, adding that they subsequently hired a top security firm to examine the breach’s source and safeguard the data of both the church and its congregation.

Gray also released a statement: “Anyone who would seek to harm a church, you’re not attacking us, you’re attacking the God that we serve, and you don’t want to go against him. We are very confident that our data is secured, and our congregation’s information is protected.”

Gray assured the congregation that services and programs would proceed as usual. “We’re going to continue with ministry as usual, and we’re not going to allow this to stop us or hinder us in any way,” he said.

Addressing the perpetrators directly in an interview with WYFF, Pastor Gray warned, “If I were you, I’d leave the things of God alone, and make an honest living instead of trying to steal from people who are doing their best to live a right, upright life.”

This is not the first time a church has reported being hit by a cyber attack.

In 2016, an alleged terrorist group called United Cyber Caliphate took credit for hacking Michigan’s Lamont Christian Reformed Church’s website.

“I clicked on the website and all of the sudden this video pops up, and I’m like, what is going on?” a church member was quoted as saying at the time in an interview with Fox 17. The video played, reading, “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses and enslave your women by the permission of Allah, the Exalted.”

Consumers often receive unsolicited commercial emails or spam, which can sometimes serve as a means for criminals to contact potential victims for fraudulent schemes or identity theft, according to the Department of Justice, which encourages victims to report such unsolicited emails to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.

For internet fraud involving Africa-based investment schemes, the Justice Department urges the public not to send any money or financial information, and report any financial losses to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

For emails involving potentially fraudulent medical devices or products, contact the Food and Drug Administration at webcomplaints@ora.fda.gov, the advisory continues.

To report investment-related spam, reach out to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission using their SEC Tips, Complaints and Referrals Portal, it says, adding, for other online crimes, including online fraud or auction fraud, use the ICCC’s online complaint form, even if you haven’t lost any money.

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