Technology news for UMD faculty, staff and students
Viz Lab Presents
You may have known that there are Interactive Television (ITV) rooms on campus which can be used to conduct classes with other MNSCU and UM campuses, but ITV capabilities at UMD go beyond that. We also have a portable ITV unit that can be carted around campus and deployed to most any space.
The one limiting factor on the UMD end of things is the type of Internet connection. In order to produce consistent quality of video, we need to connect to a different kind of Internet connection that uses "quality of service" (QoS). QoS basically means that the ITV traffic gets some preference over other types of traffic like web-surfing and email, so it is less likely to be interrupted by high volumes of traffic. We have QoS connections in our ITV classrooms, and we have the capability to create them in many other places on campus with some effort and expense. In order to have some guarantee that the video and audio will be consistent and uninterrupted, the best practice is to have QoS established on both ends of an interactive television event.
Even if QoS cannot be established on the other end of the event, QoS on our end is desirable. For instance, we have been able to establish ITV connections with Palermo Italy by having them establish a connection to our regional ITV facilitators over the phone lines. Early events took place in our ITV classrooms, but we were able to bring these events out to the Weber Music Hall and the Tweed Museum of Art for larger public events.
If your department has a use for ongoing interactive television events, such as meetings or classes that will involve other campuses, establishing a QoS connection in your area may be an option for you. Of course, using one of the ITV classrooms is also an option. Please contact Jason Davis (jdavis, x8782) for more information.
Viruses, worms, and hackers! The Internet is getting wilder by the minute. Now more than ever it is essential for all members of the UMD community to practice safe and secure computing.
Improved security measures are most essential for those computers that are used to access private data. Several universities have been stung by having private data publicly broadcast on the Internet. Social security numbers and credit card numbers are of particular concern, since identity theft is also on the rise.
Please be aware of the ITSS and OIT sites with computer security information:
- ITSS Virus and Security Information
- OIT Security
For those staff, administrators, and faculty who use their computers to access private data, these new standards are required. Private data includes most enterprise data, such as student records, financial data, donor data, and human resources data, as well as research data.
- Anti-Virus Standard
- Protecting Private Data Standard
- Secure Data Deletion Standard
- Security Patch Standard
Finally, keep your anti-virus software and your operating system patches up to date. See our article on workstation assessments if you would like ITSS to assist you in bringing your computer into compliance with these policies.
More information: Virus and Security Info /itss/security/
Our Computer Assessment and Update Service is designed to help assess the current configuration and capability of a computer and to update the basic network, system, and security software. In addition to securing computers against intrusion, this service can help departments 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org or ext. 8849) if you are interested in this service.
For more information: Computer repair & desktop support www.d.umn.edu/itss/desktop/
Most Macintosh users are aware that they, at present, have very little to be concerned about in terms of computer viruses and worms. Computer viruses first appeared on the Macintosh platform in the late '80s and new ones appeared through the '90s. Most didn't do much harm and were fairly easy to eliminate using free utilities. In the last few years we've seen very little, if any, virus activity on Macintoshes at UMD. Most of the older viruses have disappeared or no longer affect newer versions of the Mac operating system. OSX is particularly secure from virus-like exploits.
However, all this doesn't mean that Macintosh users should assume nothing will change for them on the virus front. The University of Minnesota has a site license for Norton AntiVirus and cautious Macintosh users should have it installed on their computers. The OSX version of NAV is much less intrusive than the OS9 version and about the only activity you'll see from it is when it updates its virus definitions.
You can download Norton AntiVirus, as well as other useful security utilities such as VPN, from Virus and Security Info.
More information: Norton Anti-virus Software /itss/security/nav/
Last month, ITSS sent an email message to all of our customers who had used the authenticated (wireless) network, warning of a potential security risk. ITSS recently became aware that a member of our campus community may have been using special software to obtain user names and passwords from the wireless network (we are currently investigating the incident). Some customers who had used the wireless network were asked to change their Internet ID (email) password.
How did it happen?
Wireless 'snoop' software has been improved and is increasingly easy to use. When information is passed over the air waves between a wireless device and a wireless hub, it is easy to pick up transmissions and analyze them for information.
There are some actions you can take on the wireless network that do not send your password in clear text over the air waves. For example, authenticating to the wireless network uses an application that encrypts your password and other information before it is sent from your wireless device to the authentication device. Similarly, using a web browser to access UMD webmail encrypts the password before sending. Other actions, such as using most email clients or other applications that require a password, will likely send your password without encrypting it first.
What should our customers do?
The solution to this problem is to use a product called Virtual Private Network, or VPN. ITSS currently offers VPN service and clients for Windows 98/2000/XP, Macintosh, Linux and Solaris. Unfortunately, we do not yet have VPN clients for handheld devices such as iPAQs, Palm Pilots, or other personal digital assistants. For the time being, the best solution for these devices is to avoid using them for applications that require authentication, other than connecting to the network or using webmail. We are investigating other solutions for these devices.
ITSS is pleased to announce that Kathleen M. Wilson has accepted the Office Specialist position and will begin work on Monday, May 10. Kathy's office will be located in MWAH 176 and her phone number is 218-726-7587.
Kathy has 15+ years of customer service and office experience which includes customer billing, accounts receivables and payables, bookkeeping, and participating on quality process improvement teams.
Her previous work experience includes being the office manager for a local dental practice, working as a patient financial services representative and contract specialist with a local medical facility, where she was part of the pilot project work team implementing a new financial system, and working as a department team leader at a local retail firm.
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