A couple of weeks ago I wrote about setting up your smartphone so it could be made useless if it was stolen. Turns out there’s a controversy about it, at least according to CNN. While Apple provides a remote wipe facility easily (Find my iPhone), the Droid community has not followed suit, and some think it’s not an accident.
For your interest:
If you manage a grant, or if you are contemplating applying for one in the next couple of years, please contact me today to talk about how you could participate in a search for new software to help Wayne State faculty and staff manage research grants. Please send me an email with the subject line COEUS. I can be reached at email@example.com
This virus is taking the country by storm–and not in a good way. Here’s a long story on dealing with it:
Particularly note the existence of CryptoPrevent. This is not an actual endorsement (I’m not technically savvy enough to certify it) but some folks whose blogs I respect recommend it.
Better yet, don’t open attachments unless you’re absolutely certain what they are.
There’s a new, really evil virus floating around, and a couple of machines at Wayne State have caught it. It’s a new(ish) kind of attack called ‘ransomware’ (according to my buddies at the American Dialect Society it’s also occasionally spelled ‘ransomeware’). If you get it, it encrypts your files. Your data files. Then it prompts you for a credit card, and you have to pay to get your files back. If you don’t, after a set amount of time the encryption key is destroyed and you are entirely out of luck. The files are unrecoverable (unless you have the resources of the NSA )
As I mentioned, several WSU machines were recently (last two days) infected with this piece of nastiness.
So, what can you do to protect yourself?
Don’t open attachments from people you are not expecting to get attachments from. This includes ‘people’ like UPS, FEDEX or Kinko’s, unless you know there is actually something that ought to be coming.
Make sure you have our free Symantec Antivirus suite on all your computers (get it at http://computing.wayne.edu/clearinghouse/index.php) and make sure it’s up to date.
Back up your files to a separate drive, and if you’re infected all you will lose is what’s not yet backed up.
If you do get this message:
Immediately disconnect your computer from the network cable (if you’re wired) or turn off WiFi (if you’re wireless) and contact the C&IT Help Desk at (313) 577-4778. Do not attempt to move files or circumvent the problem.
For more information see http://computing.wayne.edu/news-item.php?id=12814
Last Monday I suggested ways to prevent thieves from getting in to your phone if it is stolen, Today I’ll talk about some more tricks you can use to keep your life private.
If you have an iPhone you can find it, and remotely wipe it (that is, remove all user-installed data). Formerly you needed to install an app called Find My Phone, but now you go to Settings, then tap iCloud. (Note that these instructions apply also to iPads) Here are the rest of the instructions from Apple’s site:
- If you’re asked to sign in, enter your Apple ID, or if you don’t have one, tap Get a Free Apple ID, then follow the instructions.
- Tap to turn on Find My iPhone (or Find My iPad or Find My iPod), and when asked to confirm, tap Allow.
Once you’ve got it set up, you can go to Apple’s Find website and then sign in with your AppleID. If the phone is turned on (and not in Airplane mode) a green dot will appear on the map (here’s what mine looks like as I write this:
If you want to erase it, instructions are on this web page. Note that if you click on My Devices and then on the relevant phone (or iPad, for that matter) you can make it play a sound (in case it’s in your house and you’ve lost it) or erase it, but once you do that it won’t have Find my phone on it either.
Finally, be sure you have the latest version of the operating system on your phone: 7.0.3. If you don’t have at least 7.0.2 someone could turn off Find my phone without getting past the lock screen (which, you’ll recall, you set after reading my last blog )
Remember, these instructions work for iPads as well, because they use the same operating system.
The instructions for Androids are somewhat more complex (due, in part, to the fact that there is no uniform implementation of the Droid operating system–please no brickbats..), and instructions on remote wiping of those devices will have to wait for a later blog.
OK, so NCSAM isn’t your favorite time of year. But if you were to lose your smartphone, and you hadn’t been careful with it, it would very definitely be your least happy time. And it’s not just the annoyance of having to get a new one, and reinstalling all that stuff…
For many of us, most of our life is accessible from our phones–from dates with our sweeties to bank account access to plane tickets–even blood pressure tracking and lists of meds. How much of that would you like to share with a phone thief? And make no mistake, Wayne State, like everywhere, is a good place for ‘Apple Picking’ (swiping a phone from someone’s hand while they are holding it out and looking at it).
What can you do? There’s a good website that C&IT provides. But the most important thing you can do is to lock your phone. Both iPhones and Android phones can be locked so that you need to type in a PIN before you can do anything other than call 911 (or, in the case of iPhones, take a picture). It’s mildly annoying, but you can set it so that the lock doesn’t take effect for some specified time, say fifteen minutes. That way you can reopen your phone right after you’ve closed it, if you’re like me and forget why you opened it in the first place, and only remember after you’ve closed it again.
In my next post I’ll talk about how you can remotely wipe your phone, so that even if someone breaks into it, they won’t find anything.
For several years the University has had the ability to send out emergency messages through the most popular (and quickest) conduit–texting. If you register your cellphone number with the emergency messaging system, you can receive a text when a message goes out about, say, a snow day (or an electrical holiday, like we had a couple of weeks ago).
And, of course, if God forbid, there should be a real emergency (tornado, shooter, bomb threat) you would get the message within a minute or two of it being sent out (assuming your phone is capable of receiving texts, which most are these days).
Go here to learn about how to set this up–it only takes a few clicks and keystrokes.
One of the topics that pops up periodically on university campuses is whether students use email. Within the university IT community it revolves around whether universities should continue offering email addresses to their students, since most students arrive with at least one email address in use.
Yesterday’s New York Times has an article in the ‘lifestyle’ section arguing that students ‘never’ read their email. I myself have not found this to be true – it seems to be their preferred method for dealing with ‘the man’ (taking myself as representing ‘authority’ in all its glory). But, as they say on the web, YMMV1.
Any thoughts anyone reading this might have would be appreciated – feel free to comment…
1 ‘Your mileage may vary’
I have blogged at various times on privacy and the Internet, and it’s become a really hot topic both in the headlines (are you listening, NSA?) to the IT industry. Recently the always excellent web comic XKCD had a great take on the issue:
Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) also blogged about privacy, with a very different take (and you should also read the comments to get a sense of what all the issues are.