Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cybersecurity Smarts: Tips for Travel

Internationally, protections and safety on the Internet can vary widely from our own. According to the FBI, “In most countries, you have no expectation of privacy in Internet cafes, hotels, airplanes, offices, or public spaces. All information you send electronically can be intercepted, especially wireless communications.” This can put you at risk when you are traveling, especially if you’re bringing your laptop or smartphone with you when you go. Not only are your technological valuables at risk from physical threats, but cyber threats as well.

To ensure you have the best and safest travel experience as possible, you may want to take some steps to ensure your security.

Before You Go:
  • Make sure all of your files are backed up on an external hard drive.
  • Make sure all of your security software is up-to-date.
  • Clear your browser history, cache, cookies, and passwords; otherwise these could give people information to your browsing habits and personal information.
While Traveling:
  • Keep your technology in a secure spot, and know it’s whereabouts at all times.
  • If you leave your laptop in a hotel, make sure to store it in the safe when you leave the room. In some countries (such as Russia and China), it is recommended that you keep all technology with you at all times; even the hotel safe cannot be trusted.
  • Beware of wandering eyes if using your computer in public. You may want to invest in a privacy screen -- just in case there’s a not-so-friendly neighbor sitting next to you on the plane.
  • Beware of public WiFi, it’s much easier for hackers and scammers to infiltrate and gain access to your data on it.
  • Clear your Internet browser after each use to limit the access of data that can be retrieved.
  • Avoid using public computers. These may have keyloggers and other types of data capturing software present. If you do use a public computer, change your password for any accounts you accessed, as soon as you can, from your personal system.
When You Return Home:
  • After returning home, you may want to keep an eye on your bank and credit card statements for a little while, just in case someone did gain access to any of your information.
  • Run a virus check on your computer to make sure no viruses or malicious programs were placed on your computer without your knowledge.
  • Change passwords to all accounts you used while traveling.
If you do run into problems while traveling, make sure to contact the right people:
  • If you are traveling internationally and your computer gets stolen, report it to the nearest US Embassy to get help.
  • If someone gains access to sensitive information, especially for your job, be sure to contact the head of IT at your work. Hackers can use this information to infiltrate the whole network and compromise sensitive information for the entire organization.
  • Contact any banks or credit companies if you think any of sensitive information has been exposed.
Good luck on your explorations, and just remember: Don’t invite hackers to join your travel adventure.

Debbi Blyth: Chief Information Security Officer. Colorado native (almost!), beach lover, deep sea diver, Sunday school teacher. I'm the queen of keeping Colorado safe online. Find me on Twitter at @debbiblyth.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Colorado Crank: Hitting the Open Road On My Bike

Update - Sunday, Sept. 20: After nearly 2m 15 sec in Nebraska, was great to be back home in #Colorado - and then… DONE! 200 miles in 3 days across Eastern Colorado. Now, music and food time!

Read more on this topic from Brandon and check out his pictures from the ride so far on coloradocrank.com.


Update - Saturday, Sept. 19: ...Talking today with Kelly Kinnie of Kinnie Farms in Julesburg actually opened up an opportunity for the State to help on the technology front. Kelly uses GIS to track and locate his harvesters. Kelly is a Google user. There are no additional cost tools, such as Google Maps, that allow the State to take an active role in education to make Colorado farmers even more productive with easy to use access tools that the State has expertise and support in...

Read more on this topic from Brandon and check out his pictures from the ride so far on coloradocrank.com.

Update - Friday, Sept. 18: Tech won’t make you healthy… but it won’t hurt. As an avid triathlete and, recently, when talking about gearing up for the Pedal the Plains, I am often asked by friends, family and colleagues about training, how to get started and how to keep it up. First thing I always say is that you have to make time and start slow. Some people have a goal of doing an Ironman, others to lose a few pounds or to just feel better.

Technology won’t make you healthy, but today’s world does make it easier to get organized, track your progress and make it easier to balance life, play and work...

Read more on this topic from Brandon and check out his pictures from the ride so far on coloradocrank.com.

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Today’s guest blog comes from Brandon Williams, Director of Google Operations for the Governor’s Office of Information Technology. Brandon and his team are responsible for supporting nearly 30,000 Colorado state employees using Google Apps for Government.

Tomorrow, I -- and many friends I have yet to meet -- will set out on a three day tent-n-ride adventure for the annual Pedal the Plains tour through eastern Colorado. And I can’t wait.

I can’t wait for a number of reasons. Instead of my normal race-event mindset (I live and breath Ironman) with race plan and nutrition at the forefront, this event is going to be a chance for me to just enjoy riding through beautiful country, see amazing places and experience a part of Colorado I rarely get to enjoy at pace. Food, new towns, people…it should be amazing.

I will be writing and snapping pics along my way to share with you. The event is sponsored by the Governor’s Office and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, and as the Director of Google Operations for the Governor’s Office of Information Technology, this is a chance for me to view technology in a different light. I want to observe how it plays into not only fitness and sport, but also how it connects us as we ride with the communities and people we serve.

Specifically, I will be looking at the intersections of technology and fitness, the State of Colorado’s first responder communications systems, agriculture technology, and how local, rural communities are leveraging technology for tourism and information purposes. Also being both a history nerd, a person who is fascinated by all things weird, and a food-lover, there will be a lot shared on those fronts, too.

Pedal the Plains is a one-of-a-kind cycling event, celebrating the agricultural roots and frontier heritage of Colorado’s Eastern Plains. Described by the Governor as “a ride for the rest of us,” the event engages riders of all abilities. The 2015 tour will hit northeastern Colorado and highlight three unique communities in Julesburg, Holyoke, and Sterling.

A lot of the tech stuff will be posted on this blog, but I will also be posting to coloradocrank.com, on Twitter @bwwilliams and on facebook at facebook.com/coloradocrank. So, if you can’t join us for the ride, be sure to check in!

Brandon Williams
Director of Google Operations, OIT
On Twitter at @bwwilliams

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Waves of Change: Municipal & State Government Annual Conference


This year, for the first time in history, the Colorado Government Association of Information Technology (CGAIT) is partnering with the Colorado Information Management Association (CIMA) to bring both municipal and state employees the very best annual conference yet! This joint conference, Waves of Change: Oceans of Opportunity, is taking place Wednesday, Sept. 23 through Friday, Sept. 25, in Colorado Springs and focuses on all aspects of information technology for all Colorado governmental employees (state, county, city, higher education, K-12 and other local governments).

This year’s conference includes awesome speakers in the categories of IT security, technology, application development, project management, and employee enrichment. There will also be networking events and a vendor hall. Click here for a current list of speakers and to see the conference schedule.

This is a great opportunity for public sector employees to gather and learn from each other, and I hope you consider attending. Register here to join us (do so by Friday, Sept. 11, at midnight to snag the $80 rate -- that’s a $120 discount)!

CIMA is an educational association specifically for the government information technology professional or technician. CIMA provides educational opportunities in the field of information technology to employees of governmental units within the state of Colorado.

CGAIT promotes advancements in information technology in order to facilitate networking, collaboration, cooperation and education among government information technology leaders in Colorado -- resulting in greater efficiencies and effectiveness for member organizations, while enhancing services to Colorado communities and its citizens.

Exciting things are happening across the country in government, and our beautiful Colorado is no exception. We look forward to seeing our public sector peers at Waves of Change: Oceans of Opportunity in Colorado Springs, as we all work to elevate the services we provide to Coloradans.

Suma Nallapati: Colorado Secretary of Technology and Chief Information Officer. Colorado lover, business owner, mom, nuclear physics junkie. Find me on Twitter at @Suma_Nallapati.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Cybersecurity Smarts: How to Keep Kids Safe

Kids are becoming more and more savvy about technology every year. We’re getting to the point where toddlers know how to use iPads better than we do. So, as parents, what do we need to know to keep our kids safe?

The Threats:

There are a variety of things that can be a problem for kids when they start using the Internet. These things can put your computer, identity, and private information at risk. Some of the cyber scaries include:
  • Viruses and Malware
  • “Hacking”
  • Scams, misinformation, and fraud
  • Privacy violations (exposure or theft of your personal information, or personal information about your children)
  • Gambling
  • Explicit content
  • Predators
  • License violations (illegal downloading of music, movies, etc.)

Tips & Tricks:


The most important aspect of keeping your kids safe online is information. Be informed on what your kids are doing on the Internet -- what websites they are going to, what they are downloading, and who they are talking to -- and inform them of how to be “digital citizens,” or those who use the Internet regularly and effectively.

1. Get to Know Your Technology
  • Make sure to have a good security system in place on your computer (anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall protection).
  • Know the parental controls of your browser and computer (here are links to Windows and Apple to do this). Each computer come with options to set up parental controls that you can find in your computer’s settings.
  • Create separate user accounts for kids on your computer. As an administrator, you can change the privileges for each user.
2. Communicate With Your Kids
  • Talk to them about the potential dangers of being “wired” -- like viruses, phishing emails, and personal privacy.
  • Ask them to think before they post. What goes on the Internet remains there permanently for people to find. Your kids should be aware that before they post about themselves or a friend that it could impact them long-term.
  • Remind them to keep all online profiles private.
  • Make them aware of mobile security -- online traffic is moving toward more mobile than desktop. This means your child’s location can potentially be shared when they post something from their phones. You may want to turn the location settings off, at least for some apps.
  • Talk to them about cyberbullying. Being anonymous online sometimes encourages bad behavior. Cyberbullying is a serious issue, and if they see it or experience it they should report it to authorities (parents, school administrators, or -- in some cases -- the police).
The Internet is a great resource that helps our kids in tremendous ways. It advances learning, creativity, transparency, and allows people to maintain relationships. But, in the wise words of Spider-Man, “with great power, comes great responsibility,” and we need to ensure that our kids use this resource safely.

For more safety resources, visit Connect Safely, Get Net Wise and NetSmartz Kids.

Debbi Blyth: Chief Information Security Officer. Colorado native (almost!), beach lover, deep sea diver, Sunday school teacher. I'm the queen of keeping Colorado safe online. Find me on Twitter at @debbiblyth.