CAT Prints - the online newsletter of the Department of Computers and Telecommunication Services


October, 2006

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Protecting sensitive data

Last month, we discussed using flash drives as a place where you can store and encrypt sensitive data.  Another method for protecting very sensitive documents is through the use of password protection that is built into many applications.

The Microsoft Office suite offers password protection for all of its products.  For example, after creating a Word document, you can select Tools- Options- Security- and set a file encryption password for that document.

This is a powerful tool for securing a particularly sensitive document, spreadsheet, database or even a powerpoint presentation.  Just don't forget the password!

You can also use this tool to protect documents that you need to send via email or disk-based media.  Imagine you must send a document to a colleague as an attachment to an email, but you are concerned that someone else might try to read it.  Just set a password on it, save it and send it, then call the recipient on the phone and give them the password.

It is also possible, by the way, to prevent changes to the file as well - just set a modify password and select Read-only.  This will freeze the document in case you are concerned about someone changing its contents.

Next month - encrypting and protecting entire folders


Fun Icons or Spyware?

Is your home or office computer performing poorly? Are you thinking it’s just about time to spec out a replacement?  Before you do, check your computer thoroughly for viruses and spyware.  The College has recently installed an intrusion prevention device to protect our network.  One of the classes of traffic this device blocks is spyware.  We’ve discovered that lots of College computers have it and certainly many home machines do as well.  Most spyware offers fun icons for your e-mail, an Internet search bar that promises to improve your on-line experience or some other fantastic add-on.  Many of these don’t live up to the hype and all of them waste computer resources.  Most of them also track your Internet usage in order to gather statistics or target you with advertising.  The worst ones actually capture data (like credit card numbers…) and store it on their servers!

Some of the most popular spyware downloads on campus include Hotbar, SaveNow, MySearch and Weatherbug.  These programs can be downloaded without your consent as you install other programs.  There are several free anti-spyware tools such as Microsoft Defender and Spybot Search and Destroy that you can use to scan for and remove spyware.

You can find links to download them at As with anti-virus software, these programs must be kept up-to-date and run regularly to protect against new threats. If you would like assistance or advice about installing an anti-spyware application or removing spyware from your office computer, please call the Information Technology Helpdesk at x4567.


Internet Explorer 7 Is Coming!

A new version of the Internet Explorer web browser is about to be released by Microsoft.  Here is what the top of the window will look like:

It looks a bit different than the IE you’re used to but includes some nice new features. The biggest change is the incorporation of “tabbed browsing.”  You can now open pages in a new tab rather than launching another instance of IE.  You can then move back and forth between pages in a single window.  It is really convenient if you often view more than one web page at a time. If you don’t like tabbed browsing you can turn it off under the “Tools – Internet Options” menu.  To see a preview of the new browser, follow this link to the Microsoft website:

You can read a list of all the new features included in IE 7 and take a tour.

Limit placed on outgoing message attachments

Attachments are used all the time as a means of sending documents, spreadsheets, presentations and all kinds of files from one person to another.  Most of these are quite small, but there have been some whoppers going through the campus mail system lately, messages with attachment sizes of 100 megabytes or more. 

In an effort to provide good service for everyone, the mail administrators have established a limit of 50 megabytes on attachments on messages leaving the campus for the outside world.  There is still no limit on internal messages (from one address to another) or on messages coming in from the outside.  This limit should have practically no effect on most users; only a tiny, tiny fraction of messages ever exceed this limit.

If you need to move huge files (or groups of files) to people off-campus, there are better ways to do it than using email, anyway.  Call the Help Desk at 4567 to get help on transmitting these data!


Cabling an old farm into the 21st century

The "Thayer Farm" gets connected

The College received a bequest in 2001 from Rufus Thayer of 264 acres of farmland on the west side of Otsego Lake.  The new Upland Interpretive Center was dedicated last Tuesday, and plans proceed apace to renovate and update several other buildings on the site.

Part of this work includes bringing internet access to all of the buildings at the site.  Telecommunications staff have been working this year to install buried fiber-optic cable to connect all of the facilities to a central location in the old farmhouse.  The interior of each building will then be wired with normal copper-cable network drops, and wireless networking will be installed in a few locations.

The installation of a quality data network will help to support the College's efforts to transform the farm into an excellent facility for laboratory and field studies. 


   The Thayer Farm. Photo by Jennifer Knapp.


Fall Foliage from the Air

Web Coordinator Jennifer Knapp went flying a couple of weeks ago and got some great images of the campus with the fall colors at their peak.  Go to our image gallery at and click on "Aerial Photography October 2006".


If you have a question for Computer and Telecommunication Services about:

Computer Problems or Related Issues - Call the Information Technology Help Desk at 436-4567

Telephone Service or Problems - Call the Office of Telecommunications at 436-2577

Directory Assistance - call 436-3500