As the coronavirus evolves in Texas, being vigilant about cybersecurity is more pressing than ever. County officials and staff are the last line of defense against hackers hoping to obtain the private data of Texas residents – and hackers are being more and more creative about how they get their hands on this important data.
A rise in cyberscams related to COVID-19 email and text message correspondence recently prompted the Texas Attorney General to publish a consumer alert on the topic. The alert outlines tips for avoiding these and related scams.
In light of recent incidents, The Texas Association of Counties' County Information Resources Agency (TAC CIRA) recommends the following email security best practices.
- Be mindful that hackers take advantage of current events. They have used related emails and webpages to lure users to click and download malicious links and files.
- Never respond to, click on a link or download a file in an unexpected email. Email addresses are often "spoofed" to hide the true sender, and instead the email appears to be from a known sender. When in doubt, always verify with the sender by phone or in person that an email is legitimate.
- Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. Once one password is compromised, hackers will use it to try to gain access to other accounts.
- Avoid using traceable words or numbers in passwords, such as your county, the names of your family members, anniversaries or birthdays. These are the first things hackers will guess.
In compliance with House Bill 3834 by Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake), 86th Legislature, TAC also offers a 45-minute cybersecurity training course at no cost to county members that is certified by the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR). The course focuses on forming habits that secure information and teaches best practices for identifying and addressing security threats. This is in addition to TAC’s existing cybersecurity awareness training program, offered to nearly 12,000 county officials and staff members last year.
For more information about the certified course we offer, check our website.