kevin-mckenzie-lecture By Julia C. Turner, Class of 2014
Office of Media Relations

Safety has always been a priority on Clemson’s campus; however, safety goes beyond simple physical well-being. Online privacy, personal information and virtual safety are vital parts to security that people like Kevin McKenzie are working every day to protect. McKenzie fights for the information security of Clemson users’ by stopping potential threats from stealing accounts and personal information.

McKenzie is Clemson’s chief information security officer and executive director of the Office of Information Security and Privacy. The security guru has been recognized with every imaginable award for his contributions to the field of information security; most recently being named last month as  the “Information Security Executive of the Year” (for North America) award, which recognizes his performance in risk management, data asset protection, compliance, privacy and network security for Clemson University.

While McKenzie juggles a lot of balls to keep the university’s computing environment safe, he recently has focused on a number of phishing attacks, which continue to spam faculty, staff and students’ university email accounts. These attacks are targeting Clemson University, along with many other college campuses. Universities are more prone to online attacks because they are more likely to have more widespread collaborations and large volumes of data and connectivity than other entities.

But with all these characteristics comes widespread challenges to keeping Clemson’s network secure. And that’s where McKenzie comes in. The chief information security officer is taking aim at putting an end to the malicious emails that can compromise Clemson’s computing environment — and he wants to raise awareness so that users can protect themselves.

“I’m a firm believer that people are their own protectors. When it comes to the safety of personal information, people need to be aware that there are sites out there waiting for them to slip up. Understanding that, people must start to take the precautions necessary to protect themselves.” McKenzie said, expressing the importance of being aware while online. “Most people wouldn’t risk their safety by leaving the front door open for thieves to walk in — those who are not aware of where they are putting their personal information are leaving that door wide open, making themselves susceptible to having their account stolen or even becoming a victim to identity theft.” McKenzie believes that when the user understands the warning signs and keeps a lookout for the red flags, their information will be secure.

Here are McKenzie’s top three recommendations to enhance email security:

  1. Scroll over links before clicking to make sure the URL is actually taking you to the appropriate Web page.
  2. Check for grammatical, formatting, and language-use mistakes. If those are present, Clemson most likely did not send the email.
  3. Be extremely wary if a link takes you to an immediate log-in page. Whenever a site asks for “verification of your account,” by making you give sensitive information, like a username or password, proceed very cautiously. More times than not, it is a phishing scam.

The Office of Information Security and Privacy regularly lists alerts and updates about email threats, phishing scams and more.


Kevin McKenzie is the chief information security officer in Clemson’s CCIT department. He has received numerous awards for his work with online security. In what little spare time he has, McKenzie volunteers with local law enforcement. Currently, Kevin McKenzie is raising awareness on users own responsibility to help keep their private information private.