Government and Other Institutions Should NOT Use Public Email (GMAIL or YAHOO) As Their…

first_img– Advertisement – Dr. Darren Wilkins -They should use institutional email accounts!By Dr. Darren Wilkins | 0886703789\0777129092 | [email protected] few months ago, I tried to register for a course in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at a renowned university in the USA, using my GMAIL account. During the registration process, I was asked to enter my institution of employment in addition to other required information. When it was time to finalize the registration process, I received an error message informing me that the process could not be completed because an INSTITUTIONAL EMAIL was required; that the system could not accept my GMAIL email address. Prior to that experience, I had received a similar error message when I tried to subscribe online to a white paper on the topics mentioned above.In today’s article I try to inform if not educate, my readers on the essence or the imperatives of using institutional email rather than public emails, for official communication purposes. I shall briefly define public email; give you examples of them; and delineate some of the dangers of using them as an institutional communication medium. I will also suggest ways of obtaining an institutional email system for your institution, assuming you already don’t have one. So, here we go!!!Despite the advent and presence of other communications tools such as texting, video-conferencing (WhatsAPP, IMO, Skype, Messenger, etc), blogging, microblogging, etc., email remains yet a popular platform for business communication. Two types of emails are frequently used by individuals and organizations: institutional emails and public emails. Institutional emails are those specifically owned by the institution using its own domain name. For example, [email protected],  or [email protected], [email protected] email systems are those that are offered FREE OF CHARGE by their providers. Some examples of pubic email systems include GMAIL, Yahoo, Hotmail, ([email protected], [email protected], etc.). Since these email services are provided by external providers, they (the providers) remain in complete control of all emails and account data, which are stored externally on their servers; and they (providers) are not subject to our regulatory restrictions.Visit the Emansion website’s jobs page or read some of the local dailies. You will notice that official communications emanating from Government agencies or other public institutions, especially job advertisements, often include something like: “Contact human resources at: [email protected]” or “[email protected]”. Oftentimes we see Government communications or business cards with individuals listing their GMAIL or YAHOO! account(s) as their official email contact. And when I say officials, I am not just talking about low level officials, I am referring to some top officials of Government, businesses, academia and other sectors. While the use of public email system is not illegal (not to my knowledge of course), it is absolutely UNPROFESSIONAL and from an IT/ICT standpoint, it allows room for a lot of problems.No doubt, public email systems have increased and improved communications since the advent of the internet. They have made the traditional postal system relatively useless since they are faster, less cumbersome and cheaper. Yet, like most “free” things on the internet, public email systems come with a lot of stress. They provide a medium for scamming, cyber-impersonation, hacking, malware distribution, phishing, cyber-extortion and other cyber-crimes. Moreover, an institution’s use of public emails as official communication medium not only leaves room for data breaches, legal issues, etc., but it also takes away the professional image that is supposed to be inherently exhibited by institutions.Some folks would argue that public emails such as GMAIL or YAHOO are provided by large companies that have tremendous resources to prevent cyber-criminal activities, hence it is safe to use them in ANY institution. It is true these are companies with humongous resources, but immunity from cyber-attacks has not always been the case with all of them. You see, for many years, many of us thought that companies like Yahoo!, Google, et al, were totally untouchable or impenetrable. This perception endured until September 2016 when Yahoo confirmed that its system had been attacked and that, no less than half a billion user accounts had been compromised in what was one of the largest cybersecurity attacks ever known. What was very alarming about this incident was not only the fact that detailed account information was stolen, but rather, the fact that the breach itself occurred in 2014, two years before being discovered.The other obvious reason why pubic email, especially public email accounts of individuals should not be used in institutions is the possible threat on continuity. For example, if an employee uses his/her public email address to set up an account for a service that’s critical to the institution, the institution runs the risk of losing access to that service if individual’s email account is compromised or if the individual leaves the institution. To ensure that the institution retains ownership of its services, it is best to use the institution’s email and not a public or an individual email account.I may sound a bit trite or redundant but the primary goal of this article is to discourage Government officials and officials of other institutions from using public emails for official communication purposes. Emails from institutions should be sent through their own email system using their own domain (@yourinstitution.gov.lr, .edu.lr, .com.lr, etc) and not at GMAIL or at YAHOO. You see, just like an institution’s name or logo, an email address is often one of the things that people see when dealing with an institution for the first time. Hence, a branded email address usually gives the right first impression.Obtaining an institutional email system using your own domain name these days is not as difficult as it used to be back in the day. These days, all you have to do is first obtain a Liberian internet domain if you are operating in Liberia (something with the .Lr extension…. www.xxx.gov.lr or www.xxx.com.lr or www.xxx.edu.lr). This is done at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications through the Chief Information Office. The CIO submits a request for a domain to our domain registrar who then creates the domain. I know this because I wrote the procedure to obtain a domain. After obtaining the domain name, you can purchase an email service from a reputable company, assuming you do not have an email server in-house.The process of obtaining a .LR domain as I said earlier is not as cumbersome as it was in the past. There are few requirements of course and they are as follows: an entity requesting a .LR domain must be registered in Liberia and have a physical presence here. In addition, the institution must have a hosting (web or email) platform that is connected to two international backbones situated in two geographical locations. Now the two geographical locations is a requirement that many web hosting companies including GoDaddy do not meet. So, it is imperative that your institution speaks with the authorities at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications for guidance with this endeavor.Finally, this email is not intended to discourage you from using your Gmail or Hotmail or Yahoo email accounts for your own personal reasons. No! In fact, I too have my Gmail accounts that I use for personal reasons. I just won’t use it when I am performing tasks for an institution that employs me. If you are conducting business on behalf of the institution, you should use the institution’s email because it reduces the chances of data breaches and other disruptions; it provides better legal protection; it gives the IT/ICT department better control over institutional communications; it provides email continuity; it provides a safeguard for critical institutional functions and it enables the institution to exhibit its professional image. So, let me end by stating succinctly that NO GOVERNMENT, BUSINESS or ACADEMIC institution should use GMAIL, YAHOO, or HOTMAIL to send any serious business communication to external partners or stakeholders; that’s a NO NO!!Until next week,Carpe diem!Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Welcoming President Weah’s Remarks With Caution

first_imgPresident Weah, delivering the State of the Nation’s Address yesterday remarked that the Media is an indispensable partner to Government and will do everything to protect and guarantee free speech.The Daily Observer welcomes President Weah’s comments but with caution. This is because this is the not the first time the President has expressed support for the Liberian media yet, policy actions by his officials tend to point in the opposite direction. Indeed the media can be a truly valuable partner to government, informing the people about government’s programs and policies.While it is a fact that some journalists sometimes throw caution to the wind and indulge in sensational reporting which often draws the ire of government, it remains an incontestable fact that the Liberian media, with all its shortcomings, have over the years, done a remarkable job informing the Liberian people about government’s policies and programs.The case of the missing billions is, for example, a case in point. Initially news of the missing money was first broken by a local media outlet, the Hot Pepper. Official denial was the first reaction. And then it was followed by admissions, also by government officials that money did indeed go missing.Amidst the public outcry, the government announced that it was launching an investigation into the matter but it was also calling on the United States government to intervene and assist in the investigation.But government spin doctors were already hard at work charging its detractors of promoting falsehoods and creating hype intended to undermine the Weah administration. The media or at least certain sections of the media were accused of fomenting dissent through their coverage of developments surrounding the missing billions.In one breath the media was being praised for bringing the matter to public attention while in another breath, media institutions were being lampooned by government officials with some officials insisting that media institutions changed the narrative about the missing money.Those media institutions which complied with this ultimatum were according to reports rewarded while those that did not were punished by withholding legitimate payments for services rendered — official government advertisements. These officials do this with the intention to bring such media institutions to their knees by withholding legitimate payments, being fully aware of the strangulating effects of their actions.The Daily Observer is one such media entity which is being affected by such policy actions by government officials. This newspaper, by publishing government adverts without demanding payment upfront is indeed cooperating with government and helping its cause. Also, government functions and programs are also covered by the Daily Observer without charge as part of its news reportage.Yet, for months on end, the Daily Observer has gone unpaid for services rendered and its legitimate payments are being withheld for no apparent reason other than its stubborn insistence on remaining true to its longstanding policy of fair, accurate and balanced reporting of the truth.It is for this reason that the Daily Observer in the past has suffered arrests and imprisonment of its staff for its coverage of events and when all such appeared to fail, government agents resorted to the physical destruction and burning of the Daily Observer’s offices, not once but twice.But rather than cowering in fear and answering to base commands, this newspaper has remained undaunted and shall continue to remain so even in the face of trying conditions being currently experienced. The Daily Observer welcomes President Weah’s remarks. We however urge him especially his officials to match policy pronouncements with action.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more