OPCD Cybersecurity Spotlight
Ryan Eleew, OPCD Network Operations Manager
For Cybersecurity Awareness Month, OPCD is excited to spotlight the members of our Technology Department leadership team, who spend their days and nights ensuring that all technological aspects of New Orleans 9-1-1 and NOLA-311 are fully functional and operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Join us throughout the remainder of Cybersecurity Awareness Month as the OPCD Technology Department director and managers give a sneak peek into their world of encryption, virus protection and data security. Not only will these interviews give us a chance to learn about who they are and what they do to protect the agency from cyber-attack, we’ll also find out how to better protect your data and devices from things like ransomware, phishing and malware from the people who do it for a living.
Our first Cybersecurity Spotlight goes to OPCD Network Operations Manager, Ryan Eleew.
OPCD Network Operations Manager, Ryan Eleew,
shortly after being ambushed in his office by our photographer.
Ryan – who began his career at OPCD more than six years ago as a System 1 Engineer – first started considering a career in technology at a very young age. “When I was 10 years old my dad and I built a computer together,” Ryan stated. “Instead of teaching me how to use it, Dad said, ‘This one is yours to keep; figure it out.’ From that experience, I became self-taught with computers and technology. Over the years, I have had several other jobs in non-related technical work but always kept up-to-date on technical trends and cybersecurity.”
“In my spare time while working in those non-technology’s related positions,” Ryan continued,” I would seek out chances to repair computer issues of any type for small businesses and clients. Then one day, I was lucky enough to see the System I Engineer job posting for OPCD. The opportunity to work here made me certain that I wanted to work in technology for the rest of my life. I will also say, having a career in technology and cybersecurity can be very humbling. Just when you think you have mastered something, you quickly realize there is still so much more to learn. The rabbit hole never stops!”
Just as the rabbit hole never stops, neither do the number of cyber-attacks being experienced by corporations, government agencies and normal, everyday people. “Most people are not protecting their data or device efficiently because they have not been properly educated on cybersecurity basics,” Ryan continued, “which is unfortunate because these attacks can happen to anyone, not just large companies.”
Ryan suggests maintaining “password hygiene” through vigilance and trusted technology as a way to be better protected. “You can use an incredibly low-cost, paid professional password manager to ensure all of your passwords are at least 12 characters long with symbols, numbers, lowercase and uppercase characters, and ambiguous characters. The best thing about using password managers, other than the additional protection from cyber-attacks, is you only have to remember one password. The manager keeps track of all your other passwords for you. Remember, though, change all of your passwords at least twice a year, and never use the same password twice.”
Ensuring your software remains regularly updated is another simple way to protect yourself from cyber-attack. “You would not believe how something so simple as clicking ‘update’ can be so impactful in defending your systems from cyber-attack. The best example that comes to mind is the WannaCry Ransomware attack. WannaCry was ransomware that encrypted the data of people and organizations, not allowing them access until the hackers were paid a fee in Bitcoin. Here’s the kicker, though: two months before the WannaCry attacks began, Microsoft had already released a patch which protected users from this exploit, but the victims simply hadn’t updated their software, causing a lot of people to lose money and access to their data. Ransomware like WannaCry are classic examples of why it is always important to keep your machines up to date.”
Working in technology is something that has allowed Ryan to continue to learn and gain new skills to solve problems, which he loves to do. “With everything in life, there is always a solution to a problem. Technology and cybersecurity are full of problems, and I thoroughly enjoy finding solutions to them. I also love how working in technology will make you learn other potentially unfamiliar aspects of different technologies. Case in point: one time, I got locked out of a server because it was stuck on the sign out screen. I needed access to this server to make changes necessary to the project I was working on, and no one was on site to give me access to it. That was the day I learned how to use PowerShell!” said Ryan, laughing. [Note: We didn’t know what PowerShell was either, so we looked it up and provided a link here to save you a few clicks!]
When Ryan’s not protecting OPCD from all sorts of cyber-baddies, he enjoys spending time with his family. “One of my greatest pleasures is teaching my child about all aspects of life, ensuring she has all the tools in life to be successful,” Ryan said. “Watching her learn and grow is an extremely rewarding job.”
Thank you, Ryan, for your advice, and for letting us take a quick look into your world. We are all excited to see how you and all of the OPCD Technology Team continue to #SHOWUP for our Heroes Under the Headset and the people of New Orleans!