OIT News – September 2009

OIT News

Monthly news briefs, information and announcements
Office of Information Technology, NC State University
Issue 23, September 2009

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For the up-to-the minute reports on OIT systems, see SysNews:
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01: Jeff Crume of IBM to deliver keynote at Computer Security Day on Oct. 26
02: NC State University joins InCommon Federation

NSF awards $1.8 million grant to VCL-based project 

04: All IT staff invited to attend GroupWise Town Hall on Sept. 23
05: Wireless access spreading across campus
06: Mainframe End-of-Service: June 30, 2010
07: OIT publishes change management calendar online
08: NC State Web site for mobile devices now available
09: University launches “NC State on Twitter” 
10: OIT fall workshop schedule is now online 

11: OIT Brown Bag Lunch and Learn: Shibboleth and Federated Identity Management
12: SAR training scheduled for Sept. 22 and Oct. 21
13: Safeguard your laptop
14: Tools and tips for telework 


01: Jeff Crume of IBM to deliver keynote at Computer Security Day on Oct. 26
All NC State students, faculty and staff are invited to the Office of Information Technology’s third annual Computer Security Day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, October 26th at Talley Student Center.

Computer Security Day is designed to raise awareness and promote best practices in information technology (IT) security. This year’s theme is “Cybersecurity Self Defense.” The event provides insight into the privacy and security issues surrounding electronically stored sensitive information and offers ways to keep your computer and data safe.

This event will highlight Jeff Crume, a Distinguished Engineer and IT Security Architect on IBM’s World Wide Tivoli Tiger Team, as the keynote speaker. Author of the book entitled Inside Internet Security: What Hackers Don’t Want You To Know, Crume has written articles on cryptography, virtual private networking and identity management. He will present “Secure Thinking,” a look at how to design a strong defense for a computer system by envisioning its failures from an attacker’s point of view. His speech will prompt attendees to think critically, ask lots of questions and challenge all assumptions. Participants will learn what makes systems vulnerable time and time again.

Also, during this event, there will be general and technical discussions about social networking, current privacy issues in legislation, Web application security, antivirus protection, disk encryption, mobile device security, tools for desktop security, identity theft prevention, identity management and access control, and much more.

For upcoming information about this event, visit the Computer Security Day 2009 Web site.


02: NC State University joins InCommon Federation (Click here to view full article)
Earlier this year NC State was accepted into the InCommon Federation – a rapidly growing organization of more than 160 members that serves an education and research community of more than 3.6 million users nation-wide. NC State’s membership allows its students, faculty and staff access to password protected resources offered by participating members.

The InCommon Federation enables organizations to make appropriate decisions about the release of identity information and the control of access to protected online resources. InCommon leverages Security Access Markup Language (SAML)-based authentication and authorization systems using Shibboleth to enable collaborations among its participants. Membership is open to accredited two- and four-year degree-granting academic institutions and their sponsored partners.

Basically, NC State faculty, staff and students can access federated password-protected online services by visiting a member’s Web site, selecting North Carolina State University from a drop down menu, and logging in to our own login page using their campus credential (Unity ID and password). Shibboleth, which provides single sign-on, allows each federation participant to act as an identity credential provider for its own users, while also trusting the user authentication process of other member institutions when granting access to any services it chooses to offer.

Because of NC State’s participation in InCommon, any NC State student should now be able to access, at no fee, professional-level developer and designer tools and training from the Microsoft’s DreamSpark program (now Microsoft Imagine) In the near future, InCommon will be used to provide access to the National Student Clearinghouse, which handles multi-campus student enrollment and degree verification and records transfers among participating colleges and universities.  

NC State faculty and staff can also more easily continue their collaboration and research with participating universities and with organizations such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), who recently joined InCommon to streamline access to their online services. To view a list of participating organizations, visit the InCommon Federation Web site.

03: NSF awards $1.8 million grant to VCL-based project
The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded a $1.8 million Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) grant to a team of NC State researchers. Led by Dr. Sarah Stein, associate professor of communication, the team includes Dr. Eric Wiebe and Dr. Karen Hollebrands, associate professors of mathematics, science and technology education; and Dr. Henry Schaffer, coordinator of special IT projects in the OIT. The project will bring advanced mathematics software to rural, underserved high schools in North Carolina through the use of NC State’s Virtual Computing Lab (VCL).

For more information, see the recent NC State news release.

04: All IT staff invited to attend GroupWise Town Hall on Sept. 23
Campus IT staff members are invited to attend a GroupWise Town Hall from 3:15 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, September 23 in the D.H. Hill Library Auditorium (near the Faculty Senate Chambers).

During the meeting, the OIT Campus Messaging Services Team will briefly recap the status of OIT’s ongoing migration efforts and provide a summary of plans for the upcoming year. The meeting’s main focus, however, will be a GroupWise 8 presentation and a question-and-answer session led by Novell’s Karyn Victory, a senior GroupWise technical team member. In addition, Novell’s Dean Lythgoe, director of Engineering for GroupWise, will participate by phone.

This forum will provide an opportunity for campus feedback to help both OIT and Novell constructively address campus needs.


05: Wireless access spreading across campus

The campus community now has more opportunities to access the NC State network wirelessly. As part of the ongoing Wireless Nomad Project, OIT-Communication Technologies has recently installed new wireless networks in several buildings and adjacent outdoor spaces.

New wireless locations include the 1911 Building, Daniels Hall, Ricks Hall, Schaub Hall, the Carmichael Gymnasium, Burlington Labs, Polk Hall, Kilgore Hall, South Gardner Hall and Reynolds Coliseum.

The Wireless Nomad Project is an ongoing, multi-year endeavor to enhance users’ connectivity to the campus data network using nomadic (wireless) computing devices. The overall project’s goal is to provide wireless access for users in all campus buildings and public outdoor spaces.

To view other wireless locations on campus, go to the Wireless Coverage Map.


06: Mainframe End-of-Service: June 30, 2010
Due to the high cost of maintaining and operating the mainframe, NC State is decommissioning it and will be eliminating college and departmental access to the mainframe by June 30, 2010 — for a projected savings of a half-million dollars annually. Migration of the OIT administrative software applications from the mainframe is nearly complete. The Financials, Human Resources and major components of the Student Information Systems have been moved off of the mainframe, and projects necessary to replace the remaining administrative applications are active.

If any of your business processes still rely on accessing the mainframe for information, you should have a migration plan already in place. If you run into any issue that precludes you from implementing your plan, or if you don’t yet have a plan, contact one of the project members listed on the Mainframe End-of-Service project Web site.


07: OIT publishes change management calendar online
The OIT has created a new resource for communicating maintenance dates and other planned changes to the central IT environment. The OIT Change Management Schedule is a publically accessible calendar of events summarizing planned changes submitted by any unit within OIT. The OIT Change Coordination Team also publishes a weekly notice to SysNews and the Network Administrators Group (NAG) reminding the campus community to check the calendar for newly accepted changes.

08: NC State Web site for mobile devices now available
After several months of preparation and planning, the NC State Mobile Web site is now available! It’s a collaborative project encompassing the efforts of groups across campus. The site brings the best of http://ncsu.edu straight to your mobile device, from the most basic cell phone to the iPhone, Android and Blackberry. Read news headlines, search the campus directory and find the nearest Wolfline bus – in a concise, stylish site. Improvements are already in progress, too. Coming soon, will be features like maps, dining hall menu information and sports scores. Check it out now at http://m.ncsu.edu from any mobile device!

09: University launches “NC State on Twitter”
NC State has launched “NC State on Twitter” – a collection of “official” Twitter feeds presented in one location. The site shows you the latest tweets from official NC State accounts, and you can click to get more information about the various organizations tweeting on campus. Check out this collaborative project between Web Communications and OIT at http://twitter.ncsu.edu. If you have an official Twitter feed you’d like included in the listings, or have any feedback on the new site, send an e-mail to twitter@ncsu.edu.

10: OIT fall workshop schedule is now online
The OIT offers free hands-on training to campus. Learn how to transition to Microsoft Office 2007, edit and create graphics with Adobe PhotoShop, manage resources with WolfWise (GroupWise), create and modify PDF files with Adobe Acrobat and more! Registration is required. Please visit OIT’s online registration system, ClassMate, for more information.

In addition, OIT provides customized instruction for groups of faculty and staff and in-class instruction for students. Please complete the Custom Training Form to submit a request.

11: OIT Brown Bag Lunch and Learn: Shibboleth and Federated Identity Management

You’ve logged into Moodle and navigate to WebAssign. You’re prompted, “Please enter your login and password.” Or, you’ve logged into the employee Benefits section of MyPack Portal and navigate to your AON Flex Spending-Medical account. Again the prompt, “Please enter your login and password.”  Each of these services requires its own ID and password, and for the user, that means adding another set of credentials. For the institution, closing the security holes and keeping up with the access changes is quite a challenge. Shibboleth was developed as a solution to these problems.


Mark Scheible of OIT Security and Compliance will discuss ongoing efforts at NC State to implement Shibboleth and Federated Identity Management and will answer questions about the technology that provides the ability to login just once, handling any additional authentication “under the covers.” Join him during the OIT Brown Bag Lunch and Learn session, “Shibboleth and Federated Identity Management,” from 12:15 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, October 5, in 216 Scott Hall.

For more background information prior to the Lunch and Learn, visit the Shibboleth and Federated Identities Web site and read (under Documents): “7 things you should know about Federated Identity Management.” To register, visit Classmate.

12: SAR training scheduled for Sept. 22 and Oct. 21
Security Access Request (SAR) training for campus requestors and approvers will be held:

– 9:30 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Sept. 22 in the EAS Training Lab (302 Harrelson Hall).
– 9:30 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, Oct. 21 in the EAS Training Lab (302 Harrelson Hall).

Please visit Classmate to view available classes and to sign up for training.


13: Safeguard your laptop
Traveling with your laptop is a great way to keep up with your office work and to keep in touch with others. Laptop users should, however, be mindful of keeping their business laptops in their possession at all times. OIT-Security and Compliance reminds users that if you do loose your university-owned laptop (or other university-owned equipment) for whatever reason, North Carolina General Statute (G.S.) 114-15.1 requires NC State employees to report this incident to their immediate supervisor within three days of the loss. Your supervisor should contact the Office of Legal Affairs to file form SBI 78 with the State Bureau of Investigation within 10 days. You should also file a police report with the local police department in the area where the equipment was lost or stolen.

For useful tips on how you can protect and keep track of your laptop, visit http://onguardonline.gov/laptop.html.


14: Tools and tips for telework
Making plans for how to work during a possible H1N1 epidemic on campus? Thinking about how to reduce your car’s carbon emissions a day or two a week? Or maybe you’ve been asked to work from home to enhance efficiency or office space use. This year, more than ever, there are good reasons to telecommute to work. According to NC State’s Human Resources, “Full-time or part-time employees with probationary, permanent, trainee or time-limited appointments are eligible to telework with supervisory approval.”

OIT offers a number of tools and tips that can help eligible staff and faculty work productively from home or elsewhere. Visit OIT’s Telecommuting Tools and Tips to find out more.

For more information about NC State’s telecommuting procedures, visit the HR Web site. For more information about NC State’s pandemic planning, see Environmental Health and Safety’s  H1N1 Flu/Pandemic Flu information.

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