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An employee publication of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
March/April 2017

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ERS Summer Enrollment for TDCJ employees begins June 26

Beach scene sand and waves, Employees Retirement System of Texas logo. 2017 online summer enrollment starts June 26.

This year's Employees Retirement System’s (ERS) online Summer Enrollment runs from June 26 to July 8. During these two weeks, active TDCJ employees may use the ERS website to enroll in new benefit programs or to change their current coverage. After July 8, employees have until July 28 to make enrollment changes through their Human Resources representative, their unit HR office, TDCJ’s Human Resources Headquarters, or by calling the Employees Retirement System.

With few exceptions, Summer Enrollment is the only time of the year when you can make changes to your benefits without a qualifying life event. If you don't want to change any of your benefits, take no action and your current coverage will continue. Changes made during this year’s enrollment will go into effect on September 1, 2017.

Before enrollment begins, you’ll receive your Personal Benefits Enrollment Statement indicating your current benefits, along with information about Plan Year 2018 benefits. As Summer Enrollment approaches, the ERS will provide current information about employee benefits through their website.

When enrollment begins on June 26, TDCJ employees will be able to sign into their ERS account online or contact their HR representative to make benefit elections. After making your elections, you will receive an email or letter verifying your Plan Year 2018 coverage.

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Upgrade data security with easy-to-remember passphrases

Clipart image with'PASSWORD' across middle, password type box below and computer images floating in space behind.

In recent years, passphrases have begun to replace passwords as a method of user authentication. Some agency computer systems already use passphrases and the Information Technology Division is currently evaluating how to migrate key TDCJ systems, such as the mainframe, to allow for the use of passphrases in the future. There's no cause for concern, though, as switching from using passwords to passphrases can be easy if done correctly.

A password is an arbitrary string of typographic characters used to identify a computer user before they are allowed access to secure information. Everyone who uses a computer on a regular basis is likely to be familiar with username and password procedures. Many current TDCJ computer systems require passwords of up to ten characters and prohibit use of dictionary words, proper names, user names or ID numbers. Users are also required to change passwords on a regular basis.

A passphrase is similar to a password in that both are used to prove identity, but a well-designed passphrase is not only more secure than a password, it can be easier to remember.

The primary benefit of a passphrase is the increased number of potential typographic character (letters, numbers and symbols) combinations when compared to a single password. Passphrases might include twenty to thirty characters, or more. Since a passphrase is a sentence, even a complex character combination can be both secure and simple to use.

Take the sample passphrase: RememberThe@l@m0!

First, don't use this published phrase as a real passphrase. It's only being used as an example.

Notice that this multiword passphrase is easy to remember and conforms to the agency's complexity requirements. Attempts to hack into this system by entering single words from a dictionary are doomed to fail. Also, note that even though the passphrase contains three words, no spaces are used; eliminating the spaces between words improves the likelihood that the computer's authentication mechanism will correctly read your passphrase text.

Devising and remembering a passphrase may at first seem like a lot of trouble, but keep in mind that the more words and characters you put into your passphrase, the harder it is to hack. A well-designed passphrase will improve data security and can be as easy to use as a traditional password.

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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 Summer Enrollment for TDCJ employees begins
June 26

Upgrade data security with easy-to-remember passphrases

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

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