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May 12 / Geoffrey Nathan

Don’t open mystery attachments, and don’t send them either

Most people know that a sophisticated phishing attack has hit the campus over the past few days. It came from within the campus, and consisted of a message saying ‘Check invoice’ and had an attachment that was a .zip file. If you clicked on the link (say because it came from someone you knew, and did occasionally receive invoices) your computer was infected and it immediately began spreading the infection further.

So, for right now C&IT is blocking all .zip file attachments. And it just reinforces the message that we have been sending: ‘Don’t click on attachments you aren’t expecting’.

But there’s another lesson also. If you do need to send an attachment (and it’s not inherently a bad thing to do) say something in the email message itself about what the attachment is and why you are sending it. So instead of ‘Check invoice’ say something like ‘Here’s the invoice from the Blixeldorf Corporation that we were waiting for’. That kind of text in an email message is impossible to fake (and, of course, if the recipient wasn’t waiting for that invoice they’ll know it’s fake).

So don’t open mystery attachments, and make sure any that you send aren’t mysteries to the people you send them to.

If you do need to send a .zip file in the coming days, you can do so via Wayne Connect Briefcase.

Apr 29 / Geoffrey Nathan

A New Wayne Connect is Coming

Many of us received a message from C&IT today announcing the new Wayne State email system, which will be called Wayne Connect – Powered by Microsoft. There are a number of new features that everyone will be happy about, and this blog is intended to highlight several of them.

OneDrive

First, everyone will have a personal storage, collaboration and sharing tool called OneDrive. Some of you may use this already, and it’s very similar to competitors such as Dropbox and Box. It has the advantage of being much more secure, but has all the features that have made these tools so popular—you can share specific files with specific people (ending the need to share large files by emailing them), or with groups (making collaborative writing tasks much easier). OneDrive comes with 50GB of storage for all users—way more than the 12 GB we have now.

Skype for Business

The new system also comes with Skype for Business, which is an IM client, but also allows for audio and even video conferencing (if you have a microphone and camera on your computer).

Email, calendars and address books

But, of course, Wayne Connect is also an email and calendaring system. You will have the choice of using the web-based client, which will be very similar to the current Wayne Connect Zimbra-based system (or Outlook 365, if you use that). Alternatively, you can use (or continue to use) the desktop Outlook program instead, or in addition. In fact you can use any email client, including the ones on your phone or tablet, or Mac Mail, or… Each one has advantages and disadvantages. The desktop version allows you to import .ics calendar files, so you can import appointments from, say, Tripit or OpenTable. The web-based version is of course available wherever you can get access to a browser.

What you don’t need to do.

All your current Wayne Connect files will be moved into the new system over the next few months, so all your back email and old appointments will be there, as will your address book, so you don’t need to do anything to keep all that stuff.

What you do need to do

There are a few small wrinkles in some corners of the system. If you use filters they won’t transfer, so you’ll have to rewrite them, and you’ll need to recreate your signature file(s) and any file permissions you might have set up.

If you use Briefcase you’ll need to move all your files into the main folder—any additional folders you might have created won’t transfer.

These details can be found here

Apr 7 / Geoffrey Nathan

Copyright Robots Strike Again

I have written in the past about how Youtube’s copyright robots take Youtube videos down if their digital brains sense a copyright violation. They know nothing of ‘fair use’, ‘parody’ or any reasonable ‘exception’. Today Rand Paul announced he is running for President, and the video announcing it has been taken down:

The strangeness of copyright culture in our country continues. I should add that I am posting this late on Tuesday afternoon, when what shows up when you click on the link is this:

Rand Paul copyright image

For the gory details on why this link is video non grata, incidentally, you can go here.

Mar 12 / Geoffrey Nathan

Insidious phish preys on your fears of being hacked

The phishers have a new trick–they send you an email purporting to be from iTunes or Amazon that tells you someone hacked your account and bought something. ‘Just click here and reset your password’. I got one the other day–it looked like this:

Screen shot of Apple Phishing message

Hovering over the iTunes link reveals eurekaequestrian.com, not ‘apple.com’. Apparently Amazon has been having the same problem. Here’s a page from Amazon explaining that they don’t send that kind of email:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=15835501

So, in short, it’s really important to read url’s, both the obvious ones (many of us got one today that was ‘wayneedu.zyro.com’) and the ones that only appear when you hover over them. When in doubt, hover. And when in doubt, don’t click.

Mar 10 / Geoffrey Nathan

Help us help you–participate in the ECAR survey

Many WSU faculty (50% of them, to be precise) have been receiving requests to take part in a national survey of faculty attitudes towards technology at the university. The survey is being run by Educause, the national educational IT organization. This is the second year this survey has been run, and last year’s survey produced some interesting results about faculty interests and desires around everything computing-related.

Last year’s results, which are available in ‘infographic’ format here:

http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ers1407/eig1407.pdf

Some relevant findings from last year:

  • Nationally, fewer than fifty percent of faculty are satisfied with IT support for research.
  • Opinions on the use of smartphones in class are mixed, with about half of faculty banning or discouraging them and only a third encouraging or requiring laptops (I myself don’t see how I could ban smartphones, and I’ve taught classes where laptops were required because we were all learning how to use some online tool).
  • Many faculty feel they could be better at using web-based content and online collaboration tools in their courses, but there was less enthusiasm about social media as a teaching tool.

There are two versions of the survey, one that takes about twenty minutes to half an hour, and another that takes only ten minutes. Whichever one you choose, your participation will be greatly appreciated, and will help C&IT plan our investments for the next couple of years.

Look for a reminder and your personalized invitation to join in the survey tomorrow. If you don’t get one, you’ll be asked to participate in a more general survey of IT satisfaction that all other faculty, staff and students will take part in later this semester.

Feb 24 / Geoffrey Nathan

Recent dealings with Stingray

So a guy selling pot is robbed by two other guys. And the police use a Stingray to track the robbers down. Then it went to court. The seller was charged with drug distribution, the other guys with felonies.

A couple of weeks ago a judge asked the police to let him see the famous Stingray device I blogged about last. Turns out the police and prosecutors were so loathe to permit the machine to see the light of day that they offered all the putative criminals plea-bargains and they all ended up with probation.

Whole story here.

It will be interesting to see how many of these cases show up in the next year, as Stingray gets better known, and the ‘non-disclosure’ agreements that police departments sign with the FBI when they get the devices get challenged by judges not impressed with secret superpowerful technologies used to conduct simple criminal investigations.

Feb 16 / Geoffrey Nathan

Some random musings about privacy and what lack of it can do to you.

Three quite unrelated postings on ‘teh webs’ struck me this week. Two deal with what your apps are doing to you. One is a Danish public service announcement about what your apps are doing to you. Food for thought, whether we do anything about it or not, and whether we even could:

http://www.consumersinternational.org/news-and-media/news/2015/01/dcc-video-launch-digital-privacy/

The second is self-explanatory–have you actually read the terms of use of the apps you download? What happens when you do?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcjtEKNP05c

The third is a much longer piece on what can happen to someone who carelessly tweets something they thought was funny. Turns out not everyone is very charitable, and it can literally ruin your life:

http://nyti.ms/1FC8BfG

Incidentally, this article is an excerpt from Ronson’s forthcoming book.

I have no solutions, just sobering second thoughts.

Feb 5 / Geoffrey Nathan

How Technology Helps Your Friendly Neighborhood Policeman Violate Your Privacy in New and Innovative Ways

As part of National Data Privacy Month I’ve just posted on a national Educause blog about how local and state police are watching you a little too closely for my comfort. You can read about it here:

http://www.educause.edu/blogs/geoffnathan/stingray-makes-waves

feel free to comment either below or on the Educause site.

Jan 15 / Geoffrey Nathan

SPSS—Now Free for all Wayne State Students!!

SPSS Logo

We now have a license for all WSU students to download a copy of SPSS, the best-known commercial statistical software package. Any registered student is entitled to download a copy to their personal computer for free. Because of the way SPSS is licensed, it is only valid until the end of June of this year, but students can update the license starting in July 2015.

Because access is online students can do the download 24/7. They just need to visit

https://commerce.wayne.edu/clearinghouse/

and log in with their WSU AccessID and password. Click ‘Student Software’, then choose SPSS from the column on the left, then select the product wanted. Detailed instructions can be found here.

Availability is restricted to students enrolled in a degree program. It must be installed on a personally-owned computer, and cannot be used for work-related purposes by those who are also employees (and, alas, it’s not available for free for those who are ‘just’ employees). Contact clearinghouse@wayne.edu if there are problems getting to the SPSS link.

Dec 2 / Geoffrey Nathan

Blackboard is getting more mobile

Blackboard has released the free version of their mobile app. Previously it came with a small charge, but the latest version is free for all WSU faculty, staff and students. It’s available for both major platforms, iOS and Android, in the usual places (iTunes App Store and Google Play Store). Your students can use it to check their grades and assignments, view documents and web links, and create discussion and blog posts. Instructors can also post announcements (handy if you’re snowed in or forgot to mention something in class), create and edit assignments (although not grade them), email your class or create new discussions.

To get it, just go to the relevant store and search for Blackboard Mobile Learn. Once it’s installed, open it and log in using your normal Wayne State credentials (yes, it’s safe–it goes directly to Blackboard).

Some FAQ’s about what you can do with it are here