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Technology news for UMD faculty, staff and students

April 2012 Archives

ITSS Offers Virtual Server Solution to Campus Units

ITSS has developed a robust infrastructure of virtual server space, using virtual private server technology. This technology allows us to run multiple virtual servers on a small number of physical servers, thus reducing cost for equipment as well as energy consumption. ITSS staff have converted more than 120 servers to this technology, with more to come. We would like to invite other campus units to use this service as well.

This service assists units in meeting multiple requirements of the University policy on Enhanced Security for Computers and Other Electronic Devices, including:

  • Servers must be in an appropriate and secure physical facility.
  • Servers must be protected by backup and offsite data storage. The offsite storage of backup media must be in a secure University or backup-vendor secure location.
  • IT Professionals are responsible for identifying critical servers and maintaining the security of critical servers. (This will be done by ITSS staff.)

As an incentive to use this service, ITSS will only be billing for staff time to configure, patch, and maintain servers. We will not bill for the cost of the infrastructure and storage.

To request a consultation about whether a virtual server might be right for you, please contact the ITSS Help Desk (8847, and ask to be assigned to the systems team.

Posted on Monday, Apr 30, 2012 | Permalink

ITSS Offers Logging Service

The University policy on Enhanced Security for Computers and Other Electronic Devices requires that all servers use a secure logging service, which should include:

  • Server logs must be saved on a separate log server via a one way process.
  • Access to the log server must be restricted.
  • Host security log files must be configured and reviewed for anomalies.
  • Logs must be of sufficient size to provide useful information in case of a security event (at least 90 days of logs unless legal or contractual requirements require longer retention).

ITSS has established a logging server that meets these criteria. We invite campus units running servers to use this service in order to meet audit guidelines. ITSS will charge the staff time required to set up this service, but beyond that we will be providing this service at no charge in support of campus IT security.

If you are interested in this service, please contact the ITSS Help Desk (8847,

Posted on Monday, Apr 30, 2012 | Permalink

Alternative Ways of Learning

MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courseware) offer alternative ways of learning.

Many are aware of Khan Academy and how they are "on a mission to help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace."

Now we also have Udacity started by a former Stanford professor who was inspired by Khan Academy and believes "university-level education can be both high quality and low cost. Using the economics of the Internet, we've connected some of the greatest teachers to hundreds of thousands of students all over the world."

A joint venture between Stanford University, University of Michigan, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania which resulted in a multidisciplinary alternative way of learning, named Coursera.

Please have a look to see what is offered in your discipline. These are a few of the MOOCs currently available. To learn more visit the PDF document 7 Things You should Know About MOOCs.

Posted on Monday, Apr 30, 2012 | Permalink

Adobe and Thunderbird software updates

On May 1, computers on Active Directory will have the following software updates applied:

- Adobe Reader 9 will be upgraded to Adobe Reader X.
- Thunderbird 3 will be upgraded to Thunderbird 10 ESR.

Adobe is recommending that all users upgrade to Reader X, as it has proven more stable than earlier releases. Mozilla has retired Thunderbird 3 and is no longer providing updates.

If for any reason you need your computer to remain on the older version of Thunderbird or Adobe, please contact the ITSS Help Desk (, 726-8847).

Posted on Friday, Apr 27, 2012 | Permalink

Technology Competencies Plan Updated

The Technology Competencies Plan was updated this semester with the help of Bruce Reeves, Amanda Evans, and the EPC Subcommittee on Information Technology and the Library (SITL). This plan provides guidance to UMD students, faculty, and staff regarding what technology skills they should have or develop. The plan includes a mission, beliefs, and goals, as well as recommended competencies for students, faculty, and staff. Please have a look, and compare your skills with what is recommended.

Posted on Friday, Apr 27, 2012 | Permalink

ITSS By The Numbers: Security Team

The ITSS Security Team addresses the many security concerns ranging from systems, network, end user workstations, credit card processing, and forensics. The team recommends and evaluates policy and procedures, establishes preventative techniques, and manages incident detection and response.

From July 1 through December 31, 2011, the team reported:

  • 273 complaints about copyright violations (DMCA notices)
  • 637 reports of computers infected with malware
  • 8 firewall instances maintained for specific customer sub-networks
  • 299 servers scanned monthly
  • 78 devices that view credit card information and must be held to the highest security requirements

Posted on Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 | Permalink

Policy Update: Guidelines on Cloud Applications

A new set of guidelines for instructors is now available, Guidelines on Cloud Applications: Advice for Instructors.

When instructors find that tools provided by the University of Minnesota (UMN), including those provided by the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD), do not meet their instructional needs, they may consider using non-UMN applications and services. While university-provided and campus-provided applications and services meet UMN guidelines for privacy, intellectual property, security and records retention, providers of non-UMN applications and services may not. This document provides guidance to those instructors considering the use of non-UMN applications and services, as well as to those who are already using them.

Posted on Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 | Permalink

Ten Years Ago: Email Forwarding

In 2002 email was adopted as the official notification system by the University of Minnesota Duluth. This led to some recommended changes concerning email forwarding as described in the May '02 issue of infotech.News.

Posted on Tuesday, Apr 17, 2012 | Permalink

Apple Releases Java Security Updates

Apple has released Java for OS X Lion 2012-001 and Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 7. The update patches multiple vulnerabilities in Java 1.6.0_29, including the one exploited most recently in the Flashback Trojan horse variant. The patches are available from Apple's website or via Software Update.

Posted on Wednesday, Apr 4, 2012 | Permalink