City Blocks Email Account of Alderman Who Refuses Cybersecurity Training

City Blocks Email Account of Alderman Who Refuses Cybersecurity Training

Officials in the Tennessee city of Germantown have restricted the email account of an alderman who refuses to undergo cybersecurity training. 

Insurance specialist and married father of one Dean Massey was elected to the position of alderman in 2016. His official email account was restricted earlier this month after Massey failed to complete a mandatory cybersecurity training course.

All Germantown officials and city employees were asked to complete the 45-minute course by a specific date and were warned that failure to comply would result in their email access being restricted. 

Massey, who holds a degree in criminal justice from the University of Mississippi, told the Commercial Appeal website that he refused to complete the cybersecurity training because the instruction to do so had come to him from the city’s unelected director of information technology. 

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for a city employee to tell aldermen what they have to do to access their email,” said Massey.  

Massey responded to the imposed restriction by setting up a personal email account——to handle his official city business. Conducting public business from a personal email address does not violate any Tennessee state laws or ethics guidelines but could complicate the process of fulfilling public records requests. 

Massey’s refusal comes in the wake of a July 2019 ransomware attack on the neighboring city of Collierville, which compromised the town’s internal servers. 

Commenting on Massey’s argument that an elected official shouldn’t have to comply with a directive from an unelected official, fellow Germantown alderman Rocky Janda told Infosecurity Magazine: “Mr. Massey came up with that reason for not taking the training. This was a city administrator/mayor decision to make it mandatory for all employees and elected officials due to recent local threats. Staff does not make these kinds of decisions on their own.” 

Asked if Mr. Massey’s actions had undermined the authority of Germantown’s aldermen, Janda said: “Nothing Mr. Massey can do would undermine the authority of the aldermen. There is nothing special about him.”

Janda, who himself became a victim of cyber-crime when hackers targeted his company with ransomware, believes mandatory cybersecurity training for elected officials is a good idea. Asked if he thought that Massey’s ability to carry out his alderman duties had been affected by the restriction of his official email account, Janda said: “Yes, at least with staff.” 

Stating how he would like to see the situation resolved, Janda said: “Mr. Massey just needs to take the training. It’s 45 minutes . . .”

According to Commercial Appeal, Janda has asked the city administration to discuss a potential censure of Massey’s actions to encourage a discussion around cybersecurity issues. Massey has also asked for cybersecurity to be added to the administration’s agenda for the next meeting, which will take place on September 23.  

Massey did not respond to Infosecurity Magazine’s request for comment.

Source: Infosecurity
City Blocks Email Account of Alderman Who Refuses Cybersecurity Training