Technology news for UMD faculty, staff and students
Viz Lab Presents
Virtual Private Network (VPN) software creates a secure connection to UMD's network from any off-campus, non-UMD Internet connection such as cable modem, DSL, or other non-UMD wired or wireless Internet connections. ITSS now has a Macintosh OSX VPN installer available (as well as installers for Windows, Linux, Solaris, and Macintosh OS 8-9).
You should use VPN if you will be transmitting sensitive or confidential information, such as passwords, credit card information, social security numbers, or if you need to access restricted resources at the University, such as Library journals or restricted systems. Most email clients such as Mulberry transmit your password in clear text and there is potential for these passwords, as well as other private information, to be "snooped" on a non-secured network. UMD's webmail system, however, is a secure application and can be used safely without VPN.
When you use UMD's VPN service, an securely encrypted data "pipe" is created between your computer and UMD's VPN server on campus. This makes your computer appear as though it is directly attached to UMDNet, and provides the same security and access to restricted resources that you have while on campus.
For more information: VPN www.d.umn.edu/itss/security/vpn/
ITSS recently installed a campus-wide version of Symantic Anti-Virus (SAV) for email. With this change, email that flows into the campus will be processed first by a system that is devoted to checking for spam and viruses, then sent on for the usual email delivery. We expect this to reduce spam, reduce viruses, and speed the delivery of mail by reducing the load on our regular mail server.
The SAV processing works as follows:
- The email message delivery request is taken by the SAV system. This system checks a "spam block list", which is an updated list of known spam sites. If the sender system is on the known spam list, the message is returned to the sender with an indication of why it was rejected. If the SAV software spots a virus, it removes the virus from the message. If it determines the message contains spam, it inserts the tag [SPAM] into the subject line of the email message.
- The message is then delivered to our current email system. Our current email system will process spam and viruses just as it does now. If SAV did not flag your message as spam but SpamAssassin does, it will be marked by adding *****SPAM***** to the subject line. If a virus was detected by SAV, the message will be deleted. All your current filters and auto-reply messages will remain in effect just as they are now.
By adding the SAV system before the regular email processing we will gain back some much needed overhead capacity on our current email server. That should improve response time for reading and sending email.
The following reports summarizes the messages and viruses handled by the system during it's first few days of operation.
Summary Report (01-Nov-2003 - 04-Nov-2003)
|Data Accepted (KB)||1,180,112|
|Message Delivery Failures||27,558|
|Encrypted Files Deleted||0|
If you have questions please feel free to contact Dan Burrows, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 8846.
For more information: Security and Virus Information www.d.umn.edu/itss/security/
Tech equipment updates: All centrally scheduled classrooms with a capacity of 20+ are now furnished with the standard suite of technology equipment (data projector, teaching podium with VCR or DVD/VCR player, closed-caption decoder and electrical, laptop, and network connections). The following rooms were updated over the summer: ABAH 235, 245 & 445; Hum 314, 468 & 480; Chem 155, MonH 30, SCC 25 and KPlz 312.
Boxlight projectors in Chem 200, SCC 120, Cina 202 & 214, L410 and MWAH 191 have been replaced with new Hitachi projectors. We are sure you will appreciate the 4500 lumen brightness along with ease of laptop connection.
And finally, a wireless hub has been installed in MonH 108, and a wireless microphone in SCC 120.
Podium access: Beginning spring semester we will start a "one size fits all" approach to classroom podium locks. The key(s) you currently have will still work in the designated rooms. However, if you teach in multiple buildings you may want to exchange your key(s) for a master key that will unlock any ITSS owned podium on campus. We will be working with the Facilities Management Keyshop to make this change at the end of fall semester. Work through your department secretary for these keys just as you have in the past.
Laptop checkouts: No more big carts with computers to haul to your classroom! We have increased the number of laptops available for checkout. Combined with the installed equipment in all general purpose classrooms, this makes teaching with technology a breeze for set up.
ELMO pad: Tired of making transparencies? Check out our new, very portable, digital ELMO pad. Any document or object can be projected through the ceiling mounted projector. Zoom and lighting adjustments make almost anything visible to the entire class without the hassle of transparencies.
ITV sessions: For the 2003-04 academic year, ITV sessions formerly held in KPlz 175 will be conducted from Library 410 due to massive construction and remodeling in the KPlz area.
Streaming video: Successful tests with streaming video to the desktop have been conducted. The codec in Library 410 was configured to stream to the Darwin server during an ITV event in late October. The Darwin server relayed the ITV event as a stream which a student in New Mexico could then view.
Wireless access: Planning begins for wireless access in more classrooms. If this service would enhance your teaching experience, email us at email@example.com and let us know where you would like to see it.
AV office: Plans are to move back into the remodeled space in KPlz 175 the first week in November. Thank you for your patience during the interim.
For more information: Classroom Technology www.d.umn.edu/itss/classroom/
Spyware, adware and pop ups - you've probably heard the terms, but do you know what they are and what they may be doing on your computer?
Adware is software in which advertising banners are displayed while the program is running. The authors include the code that delivers the ads through pop-up windows or through a bar that appears on a computer screen. This is usually found in "free" or "trial" software.
Spyware is basically adware that includes code that tracks a user's personal information and passes it on to third parties, without the user's authorization or knowledge. It uses your Internet connection in the background without your knowledge or explicit permission.
Both of these types of software raise privacy and security issues. What information are they sending? What are they doing with the information?
Additionally, these programs are resource hogs, and can cause web browser and system instability. We have seen many cases where spyware caused browsers (Internet Explorer or Netscape) to quit functioning properly on the UMD network. SpywareGuide.com lists almost 300 products in its list of known spyware. Many computers that we have checked on campus have literally hundreds of these spyware/adware programs running on them, making them almost unusable.
Most adware and spyware is included with other "free" software that you download from the Internet. To find and remove it from your computer, there are a number of products available. A few of these are:
For more information: Virus & Security info www.d.umn.edu/itss/security/
Tech Camp: ITSS will offer Tech Camp for faculty in May 2004. There will not be a Tech Camp in January 2004.
Portofolio Camp: In January 2004 we are planning several shorter Portfolio Camps for faculty. More details will follow in mid-November.
If you have questions or concerns about either of these opportunities, please contact Linda Deneen (ldeneen, 7588).
For more information: Welcome to UMD's Tech Camp www.d.umn.edu/itss/etrg/techcamp/
With the recent spate of virus and worm problems (Blaster and Welchia), it is important to remind everyone to patch new computers off-line. You cannot patch a cleanly installed Windows machine fast enough using Windows Update to prevent infection from worms. There are simply too many infected machines out there waiting to nail you. Do not plug new or newly installed Windows machines into the network before patching them.
Before connecting to the network for the first time, obtain the latest security fix CD from the ITSS Help Desk and patch your machines. This includes installing the latest service pack and RPC patch.
For more information: Virus and Security Information www.d.umn.edu/itss/security/
Windows users have two new choices from the office server: SPSS 12 and Contribute 2. These programs are now available for those with a full-access Novell account.
SPSS 12 replaces the current version SPSS 11.5. Our license for SPSS 11.5 expires soon and it will be removed from the Office Server on December 1. If you are currently using SPSS 11.5 from the office server, you should upgrade to SPSS 12 as soon as possible. For complete instructions, see: Installing SPSS 12.
Contribute 2 is new to the office server. Contribute is a basic web content management system that works with Dreamweaver MX to simplify web site management. ITSS has been offering classes in how to set up and manage a web site with Contribute. See Installing Contribute for details.
For more information: Novell: Software www.d.umn.edu/itss/novell/software.html
Many Macintosh OS 8-9 users make use of AUFS (Apple Unix File Services) through their Chooser to connect to a network personal file storage area and and also to their person www file storage area (see Using Apple Unix File Services). Unfortunately, AUFS doesn't work very reliably with OSX. You can connect to it with OSX, but operations like renaming and deleting files aren't always reliable.
ITSS has a similar service for Windows users called SAMBA that is also compatible with Macintosh OSX. The SAMBA "winweb" service connects you to your same personal web storage area that the "www" AUFS server in the UMD-www zone connects to. However, the SAMBA "windir" service connects to a directory called "windir" on your unix account rather than the ".Aufs0" directory that the "AUFS" server in the UMD-MWAH zone connects to. OSX users who want to switch from AUFS to SAMBA can connect to both and copy their files from their AUFS volume to their windir directory. To learn how to use SAMBA services for OSX, see Samba File and Print Services.
For more information: Samba: Network File & Print Services www.d.umn.edu/itss/computing/samba/
Following are some basic tips for keeping your computing environment secure.
- Use VPN. If you access your work data from home or other off-campus location using an Internet Service Provider (ISP), use virtual private network (VPN) software to get a secure link to the university server.
- Install a good anti-virus program, update it regularly, and scan often. The University of Minnesota provides free anti-virus software from Norton for your use.
- Use strong and secure passwords. The security design of many systems requires you to enter a password. The object of having a password is to prevent others from posing as you or accessing your data. Follow the OIT Security Guidelines for choosing a strong password. Keep your password secure by not writing it down and not sharing it with others.
- Use screen saver passwords and system passwords whenever possible. Screen savers that come with modern operating systems can easily be configured to require a password to get back to your regular screen. Use this feature to protect your computer when you step away from your desk for a few minutes.
- Do not open email attachments unless you are expecting them from a specific sender. Email headers can be changed or simulated, so even if you think the mail came from a friend, don't click on or open the attachment until you verify that the sender actually sent it.
- Don't download software from the Internet of unknown origin and/or unknown security. Some software, including screen savers, can include features that make your computer vulnerable or allow access to your personal data without your knowledge or permission. To check for this type of software, download and run a spyware/adware checker such as AdAware or SpyBot.
- Don't let just anyone use your computer. You are responsible for all use of your computer. Do not make it easily accessible to strangers.
- Turn off your computer whenever you will not be using it for several hours. Unattended computers that are linked to the network are vulnerable to hackers. Turning off your computer also saves energy.
- Make back ups. You should regularly back up all work that you do on your computer. Data saved on your computer's hard drive can easily be lost if the hard drive fails. If you choose to save your data on a campus server, it will be backed up nightly for you. See more information on Aufs, Novell, or Samba file services.
- Protect your data. Double check and think twice about your work before sharing, printing, or transferring it anywhere else. Incidents have occurred recently in which data has been transferred inadvertently to non-secure sites and made public. Think twice, or consult with another person, before sharing sensitive data. Confirm that sites to which you are sending data are themselves secure.
- Delete old data. Before recycling or returning old hardware, ensure that the hard drive has been purged and all data has been deleted. See our article on Disk and Hard Drive Cleaning for more information.
- Keep your system updated. Use your operating system's automatic-update features to keep your system safe.
If you detect something suspicious about your computer or data within it, contact the ITSS Help Desk (ext. 8847 or email firstname.lastname@example.org).
For more information: Tips for safe computing www.d.umn.edu/itss/security/safe-computing.html
Our Computer Assessment and Update Service is designed to help a department or individual assess the current configuration and capability of their computers and update some of the basic network and system software. Departments may want to do this with their computers to help plan for future upgrades and replacements.
As part of the Computer Assessment and Update Service, we will:
- Determine the processor speed, the current amount of memory (RAM), and the total and available hard disk space of your computer.
- Determine the level of the operating system and whether any security updates or patches are needed
- Update the following software:
- Windows service packs and security updates
- Internet Explorer
- Adobe Acrobat Reader
- Novell client (Windows)
- Norton AntiVirus
- Check to see whether the fan is operating properly and whether the interior of the computer is building up dust.
The price for this checkup service is $10.00 per computer for up to an hour of assessment and software installation time, and the regular ITSS staff rate for any additional work that may need to be done and is approved by you.
Please contact Frank Simmons (email@example.com or ext. 8849) if you are interested in this service.
For more information: Computer repair & desktop support www.d.umn.edu/itss/desktop/
info.tech.News is published monthly during the academic year by ITSS. An email digest is also sent to all users subscribed to the infotech.announce, UMD.business.announce and studenttech.announce. The goal is to distribute information useful to the daily routines of the University of Minnesota Duluth campus community in conjunction with computer and telephone technologies. Comments or suggestions may be sent to the editor at: firstname.lastname@example.org.