Shielded from cyberattacks

A Christian Science perspective: The realization that God, good, is infinitely powerful inspires vigilance and practical solutions that keep us safe.

Ever since my wife and I were targeted by a direct cyberattack that threatened our personal finances several years ago, I’ve been closely following the topic of online security. Recent ransomware attacks worldwide have targeted governments, businesses, and the transportation and health-care industries by encrypting users’ data until they paid to unlock their files. This has in turn renewed public demands for computer security experts to develop stronger software protections.

But is there really no hope besides toughing it out in this way, relying on someone else to prevent future attacks with a software patch? For me, these latest incidents are actually an imperative call to seek a higher intelligence – to pray for lasting answers to this threat, which experts say will continue.

At its most basic, prayer involves staying mentally alert. I’ve found that acknowledging that we are truly God’s creation – God’s image and likeness – and therefore purely spiritual and good, enables us to discern what’s good and true from what’s not. This inspires vigilance and wisdom about things going on around us at work, at school, or at home – including in our online environment.

Keeping this true, good nature of man (a generic term that includes all of us) in thought enabled my wife and me to approach our situation with calmness and a solid confidence that our actual identity, which is spiritual, could never be stolen. We realized, too, that the behavior of whoever had done this wasn’t in line with his or her true nature, and that this person couldn’t truly benefit from such a selfish, misguided act.

Thankfully, despite their vulnerability because of the attack, our finances were never actually affected. Further, the professionals we contacted assured us that they had resolved the case. We also felt led to investigate and incorporate some new online practices and protections that we hadn’t considered before.

I’m happy to say that over the past several years, we haven’t had any further computer-related breaches. But I’m even more grateful to have seen that the view that there’s nothing we can do in these situations simply isn’t true. Defending against cyberattacks doesn’t depend only on software experts, computer codes, or antivirus programs. The Monitor’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy, explained that evil intent was really no match for the ultimate power of the Christ – the active, healing presence of God’s goodness in the world. She wrote: “Good thoughts are an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 210).

The divine power that defends each of us has a more lasting origin and is infinitely stronger than anything that would seek to attack God’s law of good for all creation.

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About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

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The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

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