Protect Yourself Online with Tips from Oakland County’s Chief Information Security Officer

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January 28th is #NationalDataPrivacyDay! Today reminds people the importance of staying vigilant in protecting their privacy. Oakland County Chief Information Security Officer, T.J. Fields, shares about how your personal information can be compromised and how to detect an attack.

One of the greatest risks to data and systems is ransomware – an attack where hackers trick a user into clicking on an attachment or link. This then runs a program which ‘locks’ data on that system (making it unusable) and asks the user to pay money to get their data back.

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More advanced forms of ransomware also look for other computers on your network to infect.

Here are some tips on how to detect ransomware attacks:

  • Most ransomware attacks come through email – be very careful when opening email attachments or clicking on links in emails. Be especially suspicious of emails that:
    • Come from someone you don’t know
    • Create a strong sense of urgency
    • Offer something too good to be true
    • Are confusing, have poor grammar, or simple spelling mistakes
  • Carefully check the content of emails you receive:
    • Hover​ the cursor/mouse over any link to ensure it goes where it claims to go
    • Make sure you were expecting the email
    • Be suspicious of emails that start with ‘Dear Customer’
    • Do not open or download attachments unless from a ‘trusted source’
    • Be suspicious of emails that claim to punish you in some way if you do not respond, i.e. shut off water, locking bank account, etc.
    • If the email is asking you to complete a certain task, do not act on the information – contact the person/firm directly to review the validity of the requestPicture1

T.J. is responsible for managing Oakland County’s IT Security Program, including maintaining and validating an Information Risk Management Program to ensure that information assets are adequately protected. He is also responsible for identifying, evaluating, and reporting on information security risks in a manner that meets compliance and regulatory requirements.

Visit www.oakgov.com/it to learn more about Oakland County’s Information Technology Department.


Follow along with Oakland County on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube using #OaklandCounty, or visit our website for news and events year-round.

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