Alderman Censured for Not Completing Cybersecurity Training

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An alderman in the Tennessee city of Germantown has been censured for not completing a 45-minute cybersecurity training course.

Dean Massey received the official rebuke from his fellow aldermen at a heated two-hour meeting of the administration, which took place last night. The censure, which was passed on a 3-2 vote, stipulates that Massey must complete the cybersecurity training by September 27, 2019.

Authored by Alderman Rocky Janda, the censure states: "Alderman Dean Massey willfully and intentionally placed and continues to place the City of Germantown at risk of a cybersecurity breach by refusing to take reasonable training measures to prevent online security attacks."

Massey and another alderman had their city email accounts restricted earlier this month after missing the deadline to complete the cybersecurity course, which Massey told Infosecurity Magazine was not designated as mandatory.

Instead of completing the training to regain access to his email account, Massey elected to create an alternative Gmail account through which to carry out official city business.

Describing what happened next, Massey told Infosecurity Magazine: "I never opposed or refused to take cyber-training. I requested that the IT director schedule time to publicly discuss cybersecurity and training with the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, but rather than simply honoring my request and acting in the public's interest, the administration went into cover-up mode and replaced my request for public discussion about cybersecurity policies with another alderman's request to censure me."

Official censures are typically reserved for conflicts of interest, misuse of public funds, and cases of sexual harassment. 

Massey said that last night's meeting "should have been a meeting about the mayor's lack of a cyber policy" and described the censure as "completely self-serving and a total waste and abuse of taxpayer resources."  

He said: "The administration has never implemented a cybersecurity policy and has failed to discuss the threats with aldermen for decades."

Since news of the restriction placed on Massey's city email account got out, the alderman has received what he describes as "harassing email and comments on social media." 

One such comment, which Massey shared on the Facebook page Massey for Germantown, read "F**k you, you entitled pr*ck. Take the training. Oooh, you don't trust the IT department? You're an ignorant a**hole."

Massey feels that the actions of Germantown officials have put the lives of his family at risk. 

He wrote on Facebook: "By ginning up unwarranted hatred for me through the government-sanctioned smear campaign, members of the administration made my family a target and put the lives of my wife and young son in danger."

In an email sent to Massey on September 20 and shown to Infosecurity Magazine, Vice Mayor Mary Anne Gibson wrote, "As a parent, I often reminded my children that actions have consequences," before describing the media attention Massey as received as "a circus of your own creation."

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