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


May, 2008

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Working Securely

This is the time of year that many of us plan to attend conferences and training classes or take vacation. 

Unfortunately, we cannot always leave work behind. 

If you plan to work from some remote location or even just keep in touch with the office via e-mail, there are some things you should do in order to work securely from wherever your summer takes you.  Follow these guidelines whenever you access College data from off-campus:

  • Whether you are using your personal computer or a College issued computer, be sure that it is protected by antivirus software and clean of infections.  Also, be sure that your operating system is set to update automatically and that the updates are being applied. College-issued computers should be configured to do so but you need to be aware if these safeguards stop working when you are working from remote locations.
  • Never save any College data to your home computer.  You should also never save any sensitive information (such as student or personnel information) to your office computer or removable devices. Save your work on your P: drive - It is secure AND backed up.
  • Take care when connecting to the Internet from public or hotel Internet services.  They are provided as a convenience but the owners of a coffee shop are not concerned with the security of your data.  Also, it is very easy to capture network traffic from unsecured wireless connections so if you must use one, limit your activity. You may also use Oneonta’s VPN (see below) to connect securely.
  • Request VPN access.  VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and it allows you to securely connect to the campus network from a remote location with a high-speed Internet connection.  It will allow you to connect to your P: drive and use Banner.  You can request VPN access by calling the Information Technology Helpdesk at x4567.

If you have any questions about how to work securely from off-campus, contact I.T. Security Administrator Lesley Bidwell at x2628 or Have a great summer!


Using the web as a resource to sniff out scams

One of our colleagues recently received a mailing that notified him that he had won $420,000 in an "International Lottery Award Program".  The letter was accompanied by a very authentic-looking check for $2800 that was supposed to be part of a "processing fee" to be paid back to a "claim agent".  All very odd and of course very suspicious-sounding.

Click on the image to the left to see a larger Adobe PDF of the mailing.

This is a variation on a scam that has been around for years.  The people who sent this letter hope that the recipient will cash the check at their bank and then send $1900 of the $2800 to them.  It will take a few days for the check to bounce, by which time the scammers will have their money and, if the victim is particularly gullible, possibly much more.  If they can convince the victim that they need bank routing information, a social security number or additional fees, then they have hit the jackpot; they can drain a bank account, use the stolen identity for other purposes, and generally make the victim's life miserable.

Getting hooked by this kind of scam just shouldn't happen - it certainly fails the too-good-to-be-true test, and the text of the letter is loaded with misspellings and really bad grammar that makes one wonder about the authenticity of the message.  Plus, many local banks are fully aware of this kind of scam and will usually ask a victim about how they received the check - they will refuse to cash it and strongly advise the holder to destroy it. 

The web is also an excellent resource for finding out about these scams - a quick Google search on terms like "International Lottery Commission" and "Lottery fraud" turned up great information at and  The return phone number on the letter also appears on, a clearinghouse for reporting on numbers from telemarketers, fraudsters. and other people you'd rather not hear from.

What makes researching these frauds a bit tricky is that some elements may look pretty genuine.  For example, the included check is from a real company; probably stolen check stock.

Be on the lookout for these kinds of scams, and be especially aware if you know someone who may be unusually susceptible to this kind of approach.  Elderly people and those in serious financial straits are often hooked, sometimes to the tune of many thousands of dollars.  


Useful Voicemail Information

There are some internal settings to your voicemailbox that you should be aware of 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 decided to override this setting so that it never blocks 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.  You will hear the “Your mailbox is full” message every time you log into your mailbox, and you will have to delete messages before you can resume these functions.


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.  Interestingly, the voicemail system 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.  This function is designed to save storage space on the voicemail system and speed up the process of reviewing messages.  

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 a little 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 6th, 2008.  You don't return to work until Wednesday, June 25th. 

  • 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 11th 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. 


  • 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.



Website Googling

The Web Development Office is coordinating the installation of an updated Google Mini search appliance.  We have used Google Mini for several years - it brings the power of Google's search software to a customized campus website search feature.

You can use the search box on our web pages' top banner as a simple search tool, but it is capable of a whole lot more.  Google provides some introductory help and suggestions at

We also have customized our Google Mini to eliminate some search results like those from the online Bulletin; if we didn't, many searches would return countless Bulletin citations that are probably not relevant.  We are also working on bringing back suitable responses to frequently-searched items using "KeyMatch".  If, for example, you put "Admissions" into the search box, you will get the Prospective Students page featured at the top of the response page with a blue highlight.  KeyMatch responses are managed by the Web Development Office.

The staff at the Web Development Office can also use the Mini to generate reports for you on how users may be searching for your office or service, either successfully or unsuccessfully, by showing what search terms people are using and which ones are getting them to link through to your pages.  If you are interested in information pertaining to your pages, call the Web Office at x3031 to find out more.


Work wrapping up in Science One

The Telecommunications staff are finishing their work in Science One this month.  The building renovation has been a monumental job for all concerned; Telecom has strung more than fourteen miles of copper cabling through the building to connect the six hundred network and phone ports!

As soon as they finish their work on the Science building, they will be moving on to support rehab work in the Instructional Resource Center.



Science One


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