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

VOLUME 7, ISSUE 6

January, 2007

If you wish to unsubscribe from this newsletter, send an email to catprints@listserv.oneonta.edu with the phrase set catprints nomail in the body of the message.

Click here to see an Adobe Acrobat PDF version of this newsletter, suitable for printing.
 

Useful Voicemail Information

There are some internal settings to your voicemailbox that may come in handy when you consider how to handle your voicemail:

Storage Limits

There is a storage limit total of 6 minutes of recorded messages.  However, we have set the system to never block call answering when your mailbox is full.  In other words, a caller can always leave a message in your mailbox.

When you are over your limit, you cannot compose a message, forward a message, or send to a distribution list.  Also, you will hear the “Your mailbox is full” message every time you log into your mailbox.

Message Length and Age

The maximum message length anybody can leave you is 90 seconds.  At the end of that time, a recording will tell you that your time is up, but by pressing 5 you can get another sixty seconds of recording time.* 

A message you have listened to will be deleted 14 days from the date it was originally left in your mailbox.  If you haven't actually listened to it, it won't be deleted until after you have logged off from that session.  It's complicated, but here's an example of how it could work out in real life:

You leave for a vacation after work on Friday, June 8th, 2007.  You don't return to work until Wednesday, June 27th.  Any messages in your voicemail you listened to before you went on vacation will be gone when you get back.  Any new messages you haven't listened to that were left before the 13th will still be there to listen to, but once you do listen to them and then hang up the phone, they will disappear as well.  And so on. 

Greetings

  • Internal only – This greeting will only ever play to on-campus callers.
  • External – This will play to all off-campus caller and to internal callers if an internal greeting is not created.  This is useful since you may want to be more formal with external callers.
  • Temporary – This plays to all callers, overriding both the internal and external greetings.


* Voicemail trivia: CallPilot will remove audio gaps from the message someone leaves you.  So someone could say "Call", wait a full minute, say "me", and you would hear it as "Call me" with no gap.  We're not sure how it applies, but it is interesting.  

 

Managing the Home Wireless Network

Many people with broadband Internet connections such as RoadRunner, have set up wireless access points on their home networks.  This provides a convenient way to connect computers, especially laptops, to the network and gives you the freedom to use a laptop or other mobile device from anywhere in (or even outside) the house.  These devices are easy to configure and generally work pretty well.

The downside?

Unless you take some steps to secure the wireless network, it is a wide open connection and your network traffic can be easily captured.  If your wireless router is configured with default settings, anyone who can pick up the radio signals can probably use your network. That may be fine with you – you may not mind sharing your connection with your neighbors.  You may mind, however, sharing your connection with strangers who are in range of the signal.  They may be just surfing the Internet or reading their e-mail but they may also be doing something illegal via your network.  For instance, they could be computer hackers, attempting to break into some other computer or they may be trying to capture Social Security or credit card numbers.  Not only is your own data at risk of being compromised, but it will be your door the police knock on when they are investigating the crime.  

You should take some basic measures to secure your wireless network and prevent unauthorized users from gaining access.  The actual steps you need to take will vary according to the make and model of your wireless router, so consult the documentation that came with the hardware.  Many vendors now include directions on securing a home network in their documentation or at their websites.  In general, though, here are the things you should do to help secure your wireless router:

  • Change the management username and password on the router itself – this will make it difficult for someone to reconfigure the router without your consent.
  • Change the SSID of your wireless network – The SSID is the name of your network and if you leave it set at the default (for example, “Linksys”) it is that much easier for someone to detect and connect to your access point.  All routers produced by a particular company have the same default SSID.  When you do choose a new SSID, make it hard to guess; don’t use your name or address or anything too obvious, for instance “home", or "wireless.”
  • Disable SSID broadcasting – In conjunction with the above, this will make it harder for unauthorized users to see and use your network.  By default, wireless routers broadcast their SSIDs to enable users to connect without having to know the SSID in advance.  Once broadcasting is disabled, a user will not be able to discover the SSID.  They will have to know it in advance and enter it into their computer’s configuration to use the network.
  • Enable encryption – When your computer is communicating wirelessly, the information is traveling back and forth through the air. It is relatively easy for someone to capture this traffic, if they are within range of the signal. If the traffic is encrypted they can still capture it but the data is encoded and unreadable, unless the hacker can crack the code and decrypt the information. There are two types of encryption commonly available on home routers; WEP and WPA.  WPA is the stronger of the two but some older computers cannot use it.
  • Be sure to keep your computers’ anti-virus, anti-spyware and operating system patches up to date – Basic computer security is essential to a secure network. You should also configure a firewall on your computer, such as the one that is built in to WindowsXP and other operating systems.
  • There are a number of other settings you can leverage to increase the security of your wireless network such as allowing access only to trusted computers with MAC Address filtering or disabling DHCP. You can check the documentation that came with your hardware (or the manufacturer’s website) if you’d like to investigate further security enhancements

Be sure to make these configuration changes to ensure that your wireless network has the basic level of security needed to protect your data and restrict unauthorized use of your Internet connection. For further information see http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/networking/setup/wireless.mspx for a comprehensive guide to configuring and securing a home wireless router.
 

 

Identity Theft and the Value of Information

We have all heard about the plague of identity theft, but have you wondered about the motivation for the person who steals it?

Obviously if someone gets your debit card and the PIN is written on the back of it, they can drain your account if you don't cancel the card.  But that's not really identity theft.  We're talking about someone getting your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, and maybe your driver's license number.  With this information, identity papers are pretty easily forged and sold as complete packages -  worth anywhere from $250 to $500 on the street.  That's the motivation - not so much to steal your money or take a cruise on your credit card, but to traffic in your identity for cold cash.  What the buyer then does with your identity is another matter, of course - they can get new credit cards, buy things on credit, become a documented immigrant, that sort of thing.  That's another reason why we need to be careful about protecting the large quantities of information we are responsible for. 

 

Personal Call Policy

This is a reminder of the policy regarding personal use of college telephones by faculty and staff. This policy was established in 1992. 

Telephones are provided by the campus and the State of New York for professional use in order to accomplish our work.  As such, inappropriate and unreasonable usage of the telephone for personal business is discouraged. 

The full text of the College's Personal Call Policy is available at http://www.oneonta.edu/admin/telecomm/personal_use_phone.asp.  

 

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