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An employee publication of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
May/June 2013

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ERS Annual Enrollment dates for Plan Year 2014 scheduled for July 15-28

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This year's Annual Enrollment for Texas Department of Criminal Justice employees begins July 15 and ends July 28. During this period, agency staff may change their work benefits for Plan Year 2014 by signing into their online account on the Employees Retirement System (ERS) website, contacting their benefits coordinator or calling ERS directly.

Employees should receive their ERS Annual Enrollment packet, which contains details about your benefits and the choices you can make during Annual Enrollment, at least one week before enrollment begins.

More information about enrollment can be found on the ERS's Annual Enrollment page for active employees.

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Firearm storage policy

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The agency's firearms storage policy as outlined in Administrative Directive (AD) 02.95 is being revised to reflect the procedures described below, but note the new procedures are effective immediately.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) requires that all persons carrying a firearm safely secure the firearm and ammunition prior to entering a TDCJ facility.

Immediately after parking or while stopped at the first security checkpoint, whichever occurs first, a person licensed to carry a handgun under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, or an employee otherwise authorized to possess a firearm shall unload and secure the firearm and
ammunition in a:

  1. Locked weapons box in a locked vehicle;
  2.  
  3. Locked compartment of a locked vehicle;
  4.  
  5. Trunk of a locked vehicle with a locking device attached to the firearm; or
  6.  
  7. Locked vehicle with the firearm concealed from view and a locking device attached to the firearm.

Law enforcement officers shall unload and secure any firearms and ammunition in a locked compartment of a vehicle; or if entering the TDCJ compound, the law enforcement officers shall unload and secure firearms and ammunition in any other TDCJ-authorized location.

Bill Stephens, director of the Correctional Institutions Division, noted the new procedures primarily affect employees, saying, “A person with a valid concealed handgun license, a law enforcement officer, or an employee otherwise authorized to possess a firearm may properly store a firearm secured in their vehicle. Individuals who do not fall into one of these categories do not have this option.”

Stephens also cited the critical need for continued vigilance, adding, “It is very important that we continue to remind ourselves that all vehicles are required to be secured while on state property. If a vehicle is found unsecured, please report the matter to your unit warden or department supervisor.”

 

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Information Security: No Phishing

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Sending and receiving computer-based digital messages is a common aspect of everyday life, and email communications are an important part of our personal and professional lives. Vendors confirm online purchases through email, and banks send email notifications about our online bank statements. We share personal and private information to our family and friends.

With so much valuable information traveling across the Internet, it didn't take long for cyber criminals to find ways to trick users into granting unauthorized access to their own computer systems. One of the most common cyber attacks which every email user should beware of is called "phishing." Phishing was originally used to describe email attacks designed to steal banking usernames and passwords. Since then, the term has evolved to indicate almost any email-based attacks.

Phishing uses social engineering, a technique where cyber attackers attempt to fool you into taking action. Attacks often begin when a cyber criminal sends an email pretending to be from a person or organization you trust, such as a friend, your bank or your favorite online store. These emails entice you to click on a link, open an attachment or respond to the message. When you follow the email instructions, you're caught.

Cyber criminals craft these emails so they appear genuine, and then send them to millions of people. Individuals are not targeted, as the criminals don't care who might fall victim; they only know that sending out more emails increases the number of people who might fall for their scheme.

Phishing attacks often employ one of the following methods.

Information harvesting: The goal is to get you to click a link and take you to a website which asks for your login and password, or perhaps your credit card or ATM number. These websites might seem legitimate, even to the point of copying the look and feel of your online bank or store, but they are fakes designed by thieves trying to steal your important personal information.

Malicious links: Again, the cyber attacker's goal is for you to click on a link, but instead of harvesting information, their goal is to infect your computer. Clicking on the link directs you to a website which silently launches an attack on your computer.

Malicious attachments: Some phishing emails have malicious attachments which, if opened, attack your computer.

Scams: Scams are criminal attempts to commit fraud. Classic examples include announcements that you've won the lottery, false-charity schemes seeking donations for a recent tragedy, and the foreign dignitary who will pay for your help transferring millions of dollars into the country. Don't be fooled, these are scams created by criminals who are after your money.

Catch and Release

Simply opening an email you've received is usually safe. Most attacks only work if you take a subsequent action, such as opening an attachment, clicking on a link, or responding to a request for information.

Red flags which might indicate that an email hides a malicious attack include email which requires “immediate action” or creates a sense of urgency. This technique is used by criminals to rush people into making a mistake. Beware of any email which uses a generic salutation such as “Dear Customer.” If it is from your bank or store account, they will know who you are and address you by name. Grammar or spelling mistakes indicate a potential problem, as scrupulous businesses and organizations proofread correspondence carefully. Finally, if you receive a generous, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity through an unsolicited email, remember the old saying, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

You can avoid falling victim to most phishing attacks by following a few simple guidelines:

If you get suspicious email from a trusted friend or colleague, call to confirm the sender. When you call, use a telephone number you know or can independently verify, not one that was included in the message.

If your agency email account is targeted for attack, or if you'd like more information about information security, contact TDCJ's Information Security Office at iso@tdcj.state.tx.us or by calling 936-437-1800.

 

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Call toll-free to report waste, fraud and abuse of TDCJ resources

Waste, fraud and abuse of state resources cost all taxpayers millions of dollars each year

The Office of the Inspector General is dedicated to detecting, investigating and prosecuting reports of waste, fraud and abuse of state resources within all divisions of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

If you have any information regarding waste, fraud or abuse of state benefits, equipment, personnel or funds, please contact the Office of the Inspector General, Crime Stoppers or the State Auditor’s Office toll free.

Crime Stoppers 1-800-832-8477 Office of Inspector General 1-866-372-8329 State Auditor's Office 1-800-892-8348

 

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ERS Annual Enrollment dates for Plan Year 2014 scheduled for July 15-28

Firearm storage policy

Information Security: No Phishing

Call toll-free to report waste, fraud and abuse of TDCJ resources

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