Norm Koester retirement reception

Norm Koester has worked at Washburn University as an Electronics Technician for the past 25 years and will retire this month!  Norm’s last day at Washburn will be May 15th, 2013.  We will have a  retirement reception for Norm and hope that you will be able to stop by and wish him well as he transitions into retirement!

Norm Koester ITS Electronics Technician

Norm Koester ITS Electronics Technician

Norm Koester
Retirement Reception

Friday, May 10th

1:00-2:00pm

Kansas Room

(Refreshments will be served)

Norm began work at Washburn in the Media Center and continues to work in the Instructional Services area of Information Technology Services until his retirement.  He has performed repair and maintenance on many electronics from mediated classroom projectors to adding wiring for installation of new emergency security buttons for the business office and president’s office.  Norm has been a dedicated employee for Washburn University demonstrated through his quick response for classroom projection systems for instructor use to his broad knowledge of security cameras, cable television system, and audio and video equipment. Norm is also known in ITS for his cooking expertise, sharing everything from his famous chocolates at holiday time to his variety of breads and baked goods and vegetables from his garden.
We will miss Norm’s quick wit and wonderful humor, but wish him the best in his retirement!  Happy Retirement NORM!

Name change to WUPublic wireless August 1st

ITS will be renaming the WUPublic wireless network to WUCampus at the same time as our annual purge of wireless device registrations on August 1st.

We’re doing this to reduce confusion between the new WUGuest wireless network and WUPublic.

No other changes to that network are planned at this time, nor will we be making any changes to WUPrivate.

MOOCs, the new Buzz in Education?

I was recently in a meeting where MOOCs were discussed and I found a few individuals who were not aware of this new phenomenon.

Never heard of a MOOC?  Nope, it’s not a cow with a cold… it stands for Massively Open Online Course (MOOC).    Still confused?  You’re not alone.

Massive – targeting large numbers of students

Open – anyone can enroll and there is no fee

Online – uses new web-based technology for delivering content

Course – activities for meeting a set of learning objectives

A number of independent projects or services for providing MOOCs have emerged over the last year and while they are managed in partnership with institutions of Higher Education, like Coursea which grew out of  Stanford University, they have also raised questions about the future of these institutions.

To learn more, check out Wikipedia.

However, you should know that MOOCs don’t provide college credit.  Yes, you can take and hopefully complete a MOOC and receive a certificate, but you will not receive any college credit for your work.  Or is that about to change?

In a recent article in The Chronicle, the American Council on Education is now recommending credits be given for individuals who successfully complete one of five MOOCs.

So, what might this mean to institutions like Washburn University?  Will it be disruptive?  Let us know what you think… if you care to post a comment. :)

 

 

ITS Staff Breakfast

ITS came together this morning for a very nice staff breakfast.  It was a great opportunity to visit with everyone and enjoy some good food.  We don’t come together very often and while we didn’t have a professional camera or photographer, we did take a few minutes to run outside and take a photo of everyone in their nice, new Washburn ITS shirts.  We did lose a few staff in the scramble to get the picture (you know who you are).  :)

This is a great group of professionals who work very hard to keep Washburn’s technology current and operational.  Information Technology is a very broad field and its a little mind boggling how much experience and knowledge these folks have… I feel pretty lucky I have their support.

ITS Picture

Cyber-Security Awareness – Anatomy of a Phish

The term “Phishing” refers to communications that, like regular fishing, use a type of “bait” to compel the reader “bite” in a way that ends up revealing sensitive or privileged information or which allows their system to be compromised.

These are one of the most common types of e-mail scams out there at present.  Below I’ve taken a couple of Phishing e-mails that have been brought to my attention lately to point out the sorts of things that should make you pause and consider if a message that seems legitimate at first glance is in fact malicious.

The first one is designed to make is look like someone has hacked your Amazon.com account and ordered a High-Definition TV to some out-of-state address.  The fake order is just the bait, however.  It never existed, the account was never compromised.  Instead, it’s supposed to make you want to react urgently to stop it, and the quickest apparent way to do so is to click a link in the e-mail to the Amazon website.

The indicators are subtle, I’ve pointed out the sort of things to look for below.

Even so, e-mail content is easily forged.  To be safe, don’t click links in e-mails, instead type them in the web browser or go to the company site yourself.  I didn’t follow the links in this e-mail, but it likely went to one of two types of sites:

1) A fake Amazon.com login page to capture your username and password

2) A web page with software designed to compromise your computer and give unrestricted access to your system and data to the person in control of that malicious website

Fake Amazon.com order e-mail, designed to compel the reader to click links to a malicious websites

Below is another example, this one is a bit more subtle.  The e-mail below didn’t trigger the [POSSIBLE SPAM] tag from our spam firewall.  One of the challenges is that with the money that can be made from these scams, they’re often under the control of sophisticated criminal enterprises.  These criminals can purchase the same tools we use to protect ourselves to test their malicious messages before sending them out.  When that’s the case, it’s a matter of how fast information about e-mails like this makes it to the vendors of the security systems and how quickly they can program a signature to detect this message, but not block something similar that is in fact legitimate.  They really do a pretty good job all things considered, but it’s a fundamentally hard problem and higher education in particular is a big target.

Like the previous e-mail, this one shares the following indicators:

  • “From:” address does not match the purported company sending the e-mail
  • Web links in the e-mail (hover, don’t click! ) don’t go to websites one would associated with the purported company.  These can’t be viewed in the graphics below, I didn’t want to actually provide a link to a malicious website – but you can do this in any e-mail with a link in it for practice.
  • All web links in the e-mail go to the same site, even if they seem to direct you different areas or even different companies
  • Once again, it’s designed to prompt an urgent, unthinking response, that response being to click one of the malicious links
  • Ship-To address is wrong

E-mail claiming to be from Intuit, designed to compel the reader to click malicious links in the message

We can expect these messages to continue to be refined to make it even harder to tell what is and is not legitimate.  For example, the From address can be forged, errors in the e-mail content like the delivery address lines can be corrected, or a mix of legitimate and malicious web links can be used.

So how can we reliably tell if an e-mail is legitimate?  Frankly, there is no easy answer.  The best bet is to remain skeptical of any e-mails you receive and weren’t expecting and most of all don’t click web links in e-mail.  Typing them into a web browser yourself is much safer.

Links to malicious websites that don’t match the purported sender are likely to remain an indicator, although if someone were able to register a DNS name something like wwwamazon.com (note the dot after www is missing) and point it to the malicious site, it could be harder tell.

An implied sense of urgency is also likey to remain, they really don’t want you taking the time to think about these messages.  The more you think about it, the more likely you are to get suspicious and not take the bait.

If you are a Washburn student, faculty, or staff member and receive something you aren’t sure of, don’t hesitate to call Washburn ITS at 785-670-3000 or support@washburn.edu.  We can help determine if the e-mail is likely to be malicious and can report compromised e-mail accounts and websites used in those messages to the proper authorities to get them taken off-line and cleaned up.

If you think you may have fallen for one of these, don’t panic!  Again, call ITS and we’ll help take corrective action to limit any damage.

I’ll address what else to do if you think your system or your information have been compromised in a later post.

More New ITS Staff

The Application Services area of ITS is thrilled to once again be fully staffed after many months getting by with several vacancies.   Please welcome the following 3 people to ITS as they begin their first day on October 1.

Kassy Swain has spent many years providing IT technical support to the Admissions areas of Corinthian College.  She served as a Senior Business Analyst and also had responsibility for general reporting of Admissions data.   She joins Washburn as an Application Analyst for Admissions.

Rob Burton returns to Washburn as an Application Analyst for Financial Aid.   Rob was  a key participant in the original implementaton of Banner at Washburn 10 years ago.   Most recently he has been supporting Banner at Emporia State University.

Sandy Selden first came to Washburn in a role supporting the Banner environment before moving to Institutional Research.   She now returns to IT as an Application Analyst for Finance and Reporting.

All three have offices in Bennett 100 so please stop in and say “hi” sometime.

 

 

New ITS Staff

ITS is pleased to announce that our vacant programmer position has been filled .   Jeff Stiles begins work on September 17.  Jeff is a graduate of The University of Kansas with a B.S. in computer science.  He has worked the past 8 years as a Senior Programmer/Analyst at AllofE solutions in Lawrence.

In this role Jeff developed numerous web-based applications for use in education including online testing, assessment, curriculum management, attendance, gradebook, content management, and evaluations.  Jeff will be an excellent addition to our staff.  Please stop by Bennett 100 sometime to welcome him to Washburn.

Washburn will NEVER ask for your password in e-mail

Just a quick security reminder as we all start a new semester:

  •     Washburn staff will NEVER ask for your password in an e-mail.
  •     No other organization you do business with should ever ask you for your password via e-mail either.
  •     Never send anyone your password via e-mail.

While our security filters successfully block most e-mails of this type, some will inevitably get through.  Malicious e-mails may look very official and may threaten significant consequences, these are just attempts to scare you into revealing privileged information.  When you receive messages like this, you can forward them to reportspam@washburn.edu.  This will put them in our system for automatic review and action.

If you ever have a question about the legitimacy of an e-mail, you can call User Services at 670-3000 or e-mail support@washburn.edu.  We’ll be happy to help.

Reflecting

I’ve been at Washburn University for four months now and I thought I might reflect a little.  As you can imagine, I still have a great deal to learn, but I feel that I’m really finding my place.  It’s not just the technology, although that would certainly fill the time; it’s the staff, the culture and the community which interest me most.  The tag cloud below gives you a visual of projects, feelings and focus during my first few months.

Initial Months Word Tag Arriving in January gave me the opportunity to dive into the budgeting process at Washburn.  :)   My emphasis was on governance and understanding how we can prioritize and fund the numerous projects waiting in the wings.   What I found was dedicated and passionate staff, a warm community and enthusiasm   for the future.  For those of you who don’t know me… I like chocolate and usually have some in my office so stop by… I still try to swim and run a little, but have found Kansas to be a little windy, so I’m adjusting…

I’m very happy to have joined the Washburn community and look forward to working with you and getting to know you.