Interview with Fox News Affiliate – Email Security and Encryption

“On Monday, 25 July 2016, I was interviewed by our local Fox News affiliate on the topic of email security. The report is archived below, the original is online.” ~ Greg Johnson



Full Report

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) — Hackers have already disrupted the Democratic Party after releasing many damaging emails from the Democratic National Committee. They were embarrassing for party leaders and will likely result in at least the party chair stepping down this week.

But IT security for political groups and organizations at many different levels often balances on human error.

Running a campaign is a lot like a small business. There’s plenty of things to spend money on. With so much technology all around us, it’s often not an area where campaigns spend a lot of extra resources.

Physical protection is generally something we think politicians and their Secret Service Agents get right, especially at the highest levels.

Online, Director Greg Johnson says even they fall short.

“There are just so many points of failure,” said Johnson.

CBS2/FOX28 spoke to local campaigns and elected officials from both major political parties about their IT security. They say, generally, campaign staff email is handled through services like Google’s Gmail and some additional security options within those programs. Rarely will even the most Congressional races have a dedicated IT team to keep it safe.

“Just using Google, or some similar service, steps it up a bit, but it’s not entirely secure,” said Johnson.

Once a candidate is elected to Congress, their staff is brought on to Federal Government systems. That’s usually a step above most security, but Greg says it still doesn’t solve human carelessness.

“All it takes is for one person to lose their computer or have one person get their password and suddenly, that person has access to all those emails that somebody was copied on, or anything they’ve ever sent or received,” said Johnson. “It would be a huge collection of emails just from one account getting breached.”

Greg says there is encryption software that would make sure emails and information is locked and can only be accessed by someone with the right password. He says that can be free, or be as expensive at $175.

Where I Live: Beautiful Music Video of Iowa City Area

DPD Productions of Iowa City recently produced a exceptional video for the Convention and Visitors Bureau. The video was launched yesterday on YouTube and 24 hours later it already has over 10,000 views. The featured song and them is “Great Big Storm” which conveys the abundance and diversity that comes together in Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, and surrounding area.


The video is a great resource for employers, businesses, educators, realtors, web designers, and anyone wanting to share a glimpse of the opportunities in this area. The YouTube version embeds nicely and looks great on just about any platform. The Vimeo version is also excellent.

You can visit DPD Productions on Vimeo to view their recent portfolio of work consisting of 90 professional videos. Follow DPD Productions on Facebook for the latest news.

Enjoy and share!

What a Leader Looks Like

Having spent most of my career as a technology service and support provider, I’ve grown to appreciate others in the industry. Even if someone is your ‘competition’ you inevitably acknowledge and give them credit when they are doing things right.

At some point along the way, as a consultant you find yourself with an abundance of work to do, or you’re on vacation, or there’s someone outside of your service area, and you need to recommend a business you can trust. One such business is Erb’s Technology Solutions in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They’ve been in business since 1961 and have many satisfied customers.

One day I had to deliver a printer for one of my clients to their facility for some in-warranty repairs. As I recall, back then, the equipment service entrance was on a lower level at the side of the building. I thought I’d take the opportunity to visit a bit with the employee working at the service desk.

The service reception desk is generally not the most glamorous job. The pay isn’t great. Usually a less experienced technician would work at the receiving and pickup area. It’s sometimes an unpleasant job if customers are upset about failed systems, crashed computers, delays in repairs, and/or unexpected repair costs.

I had a good talk with the technician that day. I let him know that I’m an area tech consultant and have been impressed with their business. He was very friendly.

When I asked his name, he told me he was Larry. Then I realized, I’d been talking to the owner of the business, Larry Erb.

At that point I just had to ask… why was he working at the service desk? Usually the owner of a successful business that size has managers who manage the managers who manage the employees.

What I learned is that he likes to have some hands on emersion in the various departments in his business. It gives him an opportunity to evaluate continuous improvement opportunities for better procedures and practices. It also lets him have direct contact with his customers and hear first hand about their experiences with his business.

Leaders are sometimes portrayed as people who are removed from the ‘commoners’ and  inaccessible. It’s assumed that one of the perks of being the boss is that you don’t have to do the dirty work and heavy lifting. You’re able to escape from listening to customer complaints. Yet, these portrayals of leadership aren’t the ideal.

A true business leader isn’t trying to avoid their employees or the customers they serve. A true leader spends some time with their sleeves rolled up, working side by side with their employees and serving customers. This builds relationships and trust. It also helps an innovative leader explore opportunities for improvement — since ultimately that’s what their highest calling is.

Related Media – Audio

The audio below is from 7 April 2003. It’s the story of how this kind of management style became the foundation for Honda’s success — success in job satisfaction, customer satisfaction, product quality, and customer service excellence.

Related Media – Video

The video below is about a Japanese airline industry CEO who decided to give himself a pay cut as a way of sharing the burden when a depressed economy adversely impacted the company’s revenue. This CEO frequently works along side with employees and listens to their ideas, praises, and suggestions for improvement.



About This Article

“In 1987, at 23 years old, I had my first experience with leadership and business management as a manager of a Radio Shack store in California. Going from a recently hired sales person, to managing my own store in 6 months was a kind of a record. In the 28 years since then, my interest in leadership and management has grown. I’m intrigued by innovative approaches to facilitating progress for organizations and businesses. Much of what I’ve learned over the years, I’ve applied to my work as President of the Small House Society (2002 to present). I describe myself as a “facilitator” in my work with the organization. I like the term facilitator because for me, that’s what a leader does — empower, equip, inspire, and help people grow in their areas of passion and expertise. So, the above article is inspired by these experiences.” ~ Greg Johnson, 12 March 2015


CBS News: Shopping Mall Security and Safety Concerns

On Monday, 23 February 2015, CBS News produced a story about shopping mall security and safety concerns. I had an opportunity to be briefly interviewed for that news segment. The video is below and the story is also available on our local CBS website.


In visiting with the news team, I pointed out that our local shopping malls are mostly single-level and spread out over a large area, so they are not densely populated which makes them less likely targets for terrorist attacks. With a trend toward supporting small locally owned businesses, people are doing less shopping at malls, and seeking out small local businesses to support.

In other countries I’ve traveled to, the shopping malls may have three or four levels and are more densely populated making them a higher risk security concern. Heightened security measures are in place, with security guards checking under cars with mirrors and mall visitors are required to go through metal detectors.

In the United States, with some exceptions, many malls simply aren’t the hub of activity and community that they are in other countries.


FOX News: Interview About Phishing Emails

[vimeo 119551631 w=540 h=304]

Updated: Thursday, February 12 2015, 09:46 PM CST

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28)– Internet hackers are still after your computers…and your identity. With some big name businesses being hacked, employers are trying to find new ways to protect themselves.

Today a technology expert tells CBS 2/FOX 28 businesses are practicing security from the inside…out.

“My husband is more into computers and I remember calling him and saying, “I clicked on this, what happened?” says Amie Villarini of Iowa City.

Most of us have gotten those emails, a convincing and seemingly legitimate message with a link that could install a harmful virus to your computer or get you one step closer to giving away your personal information. It’s called phishing. Some businesses are hiring companies to send messages like those to their own employees.

“As businesses lately have become more aware of the various threats that are out there, what people realize is that the greatest vulnerability is just the human factor,” says Gregory P. Johnson of

The businesses see which employees bite the bait and use the fake phishing email as a learning opportunity to increase security.

“It’s a stress test of the business to see if that business has both the physical security, digital security and that critical third component, the human training,” he says.

“Seems like a smart thing to do. I mean, if it is going to happen, might as well make sure that it happens in a way you can control,” says University of Iowa Senior Christopher Wright.

Johnson says to be careful before clicking anything. What is the address of the email? Does what they are asking make sense? Are they asking for personal information?

“That’s really the best thing you can do is go to the site you know is official and log in and then see ‘Oh, is this really happening,’” he says.

Johnson says if you receive one of these emails at work, report it to your IT department. If it happens at home, you can report it through your antivirus software. If the email claims to be from a particular institution, send it to them so they are aware of it.

If you feel your computer has been negatively impacted by one of these emails, he suggests getting it checked out by an expert. Johnson also advises regular computer check-ups.



Source: Fox News, 12 February 2015