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

NUMBER 100

November, 2008

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

Archives of CATPrints are available at http://www.oneonta.edu/technology/comptech/newsletter/

Sustainability and Newsletters

This is the 100th issue of CATPrints since it was introduced in March of 2000.  CATPrints started out as a two-sided sheet of blue paper; at the time we wanted to keep the printing costs down and save on paper.  In June of 2004 we issued our first online-only version with the following lead:

CATPrints goes online-only

The CATPrints newsletter first appeared in March 2000. Fifty issues have reached your mailbox printed on a single sheet of paper since then, representing some 52,000 sheets, or a hundred reams. This sixteen foot-high stack of paper has brought you many informative and interesting articles over the last four years, and we have now decided that it is time for the newsletter to go paperless. This will give us the opportunity to give you direct links to other websites, it will allow us to insert images of very high quality, and most importantly it will remove the self-imposed restriction of a single sheet of paper for the content of our newsletter.

The need to save on paper and costs has become much more compelling since 2004.

If we had continued to print the newsletter in the same format, we would have consumed another hundred reams of paper since then, a volume of paper a little smaller than the average office desk in size.  This hundred reams of paper would have cost the College $356 at current prices, plus the somewhat more obscure costs of printing, distribution, recycling, disposal and transportation.  Going electronic-only has allowed us to produce newsletters with color images, with expanded content and active hyperlinks, and would even allow us to add video if we wanted to.  All of this can be done at as close to zero cost as makes no difference, with a nearly zero impact on the environment.

If you are interested in learning more about the electronic distribution of newsletters and similar documents, contact Phil Bidwell at x2710 or by email at bidwelps@oneonta.edu.
 

Secure Wireless

Oneonta’s wireless network now has a secure SSID which users can connect to in order to encrypt their wireless communications.  The two college supported networks are “Red Dragon WiFi” (unsecure) and “RedDragonSecure” (secure).  As always, other networks your computer detects on campus are not SUNY Oneonta authorized networks and you should never connect to them.  Due to the nature of wireless communications, it is much easier for unauthorized people to capture information being sent between the access points and computers.  The secure network will render that traffic unreadable should it be captured, thereby securing the information. This will greatly enhance the security of our wireless network and allow wireless use of programs such as Banner.


Wireless, 1929

Before you throw away your Ethernet cable, though, you should be aware that the wireless network is not as reliable or as fast as the wired network.  As we’ve discussed in the past, wireless communications can be disrupted by a number of factors.  Furniture, doors and building construction can block the signal from an AP. Cordless phones, microwaves and other appliances can cause intermittent interference with wireless signals.  Also, bandwidth on the wireless network is capped for each user due to limitations in the number of connections each AP can manage.  As wireless technology advances, these issues should be resolved, but for now, you should consider the wireless network a convenience for use when you are out of your office and you want to use your laptop or other device on the network.  When you are at your desk, however, we recommend using your wired connection and disabling your wireless interface. This will give you the most stable, fastest connection available at this time.

We will eventually be requiring the use of the secure network for all employees’ computers and plan to automate the setup for the encrypted network through the Secure Desktop and ASCI programs. If you would like to move your wireless computer to the secure network now, please call the Information Technology Helpdesk and make the request.
 

Virtual Travel

In light of the recent "Travel Advisory" asking employees to voluntarily cut back on travel, we in I.T. would like to offer options using technology to bridge the distances.  We have some excellent facilities and resources to let staff and faculty set up teleconferences or other electronic media in lieu of travel.  Contact the Help Desk at 4567 and ask for a ticket to be routed to the Telecom office if you would like to hold a teleconference, or to the Teaching, Learning and Technology Center if you would like to set up a webinar.
 

Updates

In the past two weeks a number of vulnerabilities were announced for many popular applications that you probably have installed on your home computer.  Among these are Adobe Acrobat Reader, Firefox and Safari internet browsers.  Exploit of these vulnerabilities could lead to the exposure of your personal information, access to your computer or even control of your computer by hackers and identity thieves.  Each of these programs has an update utility that you can use to get the latest, patched version of the software.

As always, it is critically important to keep your operating system up to date (Microsoft also released critical patches recently) but it is equally important to keep other applications updated as well.

The Secunia Personal Software Inspector can help you find and fix insecure programs on your home computers.  Download it from http://secunia.com/vulnerability_scanning/personal/.

iPhone and iPod Touch users – Critical vulnerabilities were just announced for these devices as well.  The vulnerabilities can result in remote code execution and exposure of sensitive information.  Update them by visiting iTunes as soon as possible. See the advisories at http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3318.
 

Tips for Staying Safe Online

The Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center MS-ISAC is distributing a Monthly Security Tips Newsletter with information to help you safeguard your personal information and stay safe online. The November issue is about Internet shopping and includes valuable information to help you have a safe online shopping experience as well as details about what to do if you are the victim of online fraud. You can read the newsletter here: http://www.oneonta.edu/technology/security/newsletter.asp and while you’re at it, check out October’s newsletter, “Phishing – How to Avoid Getting Hooked!”

And here's another example:

We recently received a message, supposedly from a person who had a question about something we were selling on eBay. 

Thing is, we weren't selling anything.  This was a phishing attempt - an email crafted to look like a legitimate message from eBay.  Clicking on Respond Now directed a browser to http://old-lp1.irides.com/wsx27x2/eBayISAPIdll/SignInruhttp3A/www.ebay.com/trksidm37  which is obviously not an eBay address.  The address brought up a very realistic-looking eBay page that required us to log in with an eBay username and password.  Doing so would have given the phisher a valid account to work with for their nefarious purposes.  Two days after receiving the message, the old-lp1.irides.com domain name no longer existed.  But presumably the phishers got some results.
 

Technology Training Opportunities

If you are using a new piece of software, or if you need help figuring out how to do something new with an old piece of software, don't forget about our technology training resources here on campus.  Check out http://www.oneonta.edu/academics/training, and then call the Help Desk and open a ticket - either about a software application in general, a specific task you need assistance with, or even a problem you have that might be solved with a new technology.  We can train you at any level that works for you, and can also consult on the possibilities offered by different hardware and software solutions.
 

Changes in Computer Services

Brady McClenon has accepted a position in the Computer Center as a Senior Programmer / Analyst.  He will be taking on the responsibilities formerly managed by Miro Trunec, primarily support of the BANNER student information system.  Congratulations, Brady!

Also congratulations to Dave Adikes on his impending retirement.  Dave has given 18 and a half years of service to the College, first in Computer Services, then in Telecommunications and  recently back in the Computer Center.  Enjoy your new free time, Dave!
 

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