Township beefing up email security

FLINT TWP. — Guarding against getting hacked is one of several reasons given for the township board’s unanimous decision to switch to a new hosted email service.

“As we have seen recently, it is vital that government entities make their email systems as secure as possible from hackers and cyber attacks,’’ said Clerk Kathy Funk in as written request to the township board.

The move to Microsoft Hosted Exchange at an initial cost of $5,152.50 will not only improve security but also is more user friendly, Funk said.

The new system is for the township hall and fire station no. one which currently use Outlook and Axigen.

New board members trying to access their staff email from outside of the township building already have found the Axigen system to be almost impossible to use, she said.

The new service will move township email to a secure cloud server, which is recommended by their technology advisors and will have the added benefit of freeing up needed space on the township’s network server.

Exchange is a single centralized database that can be accessed, securely, from anywhere including other offices, at home or out and about. It is accessible via various communication devices include an Ipad, Iphone, smartphone and other tablets.

Other features include access to calendars and address books; enabling group scheduling; a powerful spam filter; provision of automatic out-of-office notices; public folders for sharing documents and automatic backs up email and other tasks so data is never lost if the computer crashes or a phone gets lost. Upfront costs includes the license fee for each user plus installation. After the first year, there is an annual cost of $2,520 for the licensing fee.

Trustee Barb Vert noted that the expense was not in the budget and asked why the township board was not told about the service in 2013 when they contracted I.T. Right as their Information Technology Support service. I.T. Right is Michigan’s leading consultant for local government. Township Supervisor said that I.T. Right proposed the service from the outset but she did not bring it to the board because of the cost.

“I wanted to do it then but we had a lot on our plate,” she said. “They did try to recommend it way back then. This is the second or third year they have brought it to us.”

Funk said part of the cost would come from the 2017 fire department budget and the rest from hall and grounds. A budget amendment will be required.

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