OIT News – November 2010

OIT News

Monthly news briefs, information and announcements
Office of Information Technology, NC State University
Issue 37, November 2010

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For the up-to-the minute reports on OIT systems, see SysNews:
For help with computing problems, contact the NC State University Help Desk:

01: OIT to pilot Google Apps Education Edition for faculty and staff
02: Electronic media disposal service for sensitive data available
03: New campus voice mail system coming soon
04: MyPack Portal upgrade is scheduled for Nov. 21 
05: Mark your calendar! FOSS Fair 2011 is Feb. 12
06: NC State offers its own URL shortener service
07: WolfWise team to deploy GroupWise 8 Dec. 3-5
08: OIT Lunch & Learn:
“The Genius of WordPress” on Nov. 17
09: OIT to phase out legacy wireless support for 802.11/802.11b
: SAR training scheduled for Nov. 30
11: Beware of FireSheep!

01: OIT to pilot Google Apps Education Edition for faculty and staff
OIT is moving forward with a phased testing process to migrate faculty and staff to Google Apps Education Edition. This action was recommended by the NexGen E-mail Task Force, which was charged last spring by Dr. Marc Hoit, vice chancellor for information technology, to explore the next generation of e-mail systems for university employees. This fall, the report received endorsements from the Messaging Technical Oversight Committee and Campus IT Directors.

The NexGen E-mail Implementation Team will begin the four-phase process to test Google Apps Education Edition’s suitability to meet faculty and staff’s diverse needs for a unified e-mail and calendaring solution. For information about the next stages of this process, please review the NexGen Implementation Charter.

The team working on this project will be co-chaired by Chris King, assistant director in OIT Technology Support Services, and Dan Green, director of Information Technology in Electrical and Computer Engineering. You can follow progress on the project as it gets underway on the NexGen E-mail Project Web site.

02: Electronic media disposal service for sensitive data available
OIT Security and Compliance is offering a new university-wide service to dispose of electronic media that contains sensitive university data. This service is available for computer hard drives and other electronic media including tapes, CDs, DVDs, floppy drives, USB flash drives and hand-held devices (such as BlackBerrys). The cost of this service will initially be borne by OIT, but this approach may need to be revisited later based on experience with the use of the service. For more information about the new process, see the OIT Electronic Media Disposal Process for Campus.

03: New campus voice mail system coming soon
OIT Communication Technologies (ComTech) will be deploying Cisco Unity Connection as the new campus voice mail system in late December or early next year.

Cisco Unity Connection will replace the aging Octel voice mail platform and consolidate both the Main Campus and the College of Veterinary Medicine’s voice mail systems on to one highly redundant, feature-rich platform. In addition to the traditional telephone interface, the new system will eventually offer campus users the ability to access their voice mail via the Web and e-mail clients.

ComTech is currently testing the system and collecting data from colleges and campus departments to map individual users to their associated telephone numbers and Unity IDs in preparation for the deployment. ComTech will contact campus voice mail users in advance of the deployment to provide instructions on how to set up their new campus voice mail boxes. More information will be available at Communications – Phone and UC Services soon.

04: MyPack Portal upgrade is scheduled for Nov. 21
The Office of Information Technology (OIT) will upgrade the MyPack Portal from version 8.9 to 9.1 on Sunday, Nov. 21. The MyPack Portal, the gateway to campus online systems and services, will be unavailable during the upgrade, which is scheduled from 8 a.m. to noon. Check SysNews for the latest updates.

The key user features and benefits of the upgrade include new breadcrumb style navigation across the top of the portal Web pages and a new drop-down menu indicating recently used pages. Branding within the portal will change to conform to NC State Web Guidelines and Standards. Technology components include new servers and upgrades to PeopleSoft Peopletools 8.50 and to Oracle Database 11g.

05: Mark your calendar! FOSS Fair 2011 is Feb. 12
The NC State Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community announces that FOSS Fair 2011 will be held beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011 in Room 3001 of Engineering Building 2 (EB2) on Centennial Campus.

The FOSS Fair is an unconference-style event. It is completely driven by its participants, and any topic relating to free and open source software is welcome. For more information about the conference, contact Jack Neely, event coordinator, at 513-1522 or visit the FOSS Fair 2011 Web site. You can also suggest a session, volunteer to give a talk and register for the event on the site.

06: NC State offers its own URL shortener service
NC State introduces its new GoLinks service, which creates short, NC State-branded URLs that begin with http://go.ncsu.edu.

With GoLinks, university employees can create a short, memorable link that redirects to a longer URL. Once created, the target of a GoLink can be changed without having to change the GoLink itself.

Short URLs are useful when space is limited such as in Twitter tweets, text messages or on printed materials such as business cards. GoLinks also provides statistics about the short URL, which can be used to track its usage and determine its effectiveness. To use this service or to get more information about it, visit the NC State GoLinks Web site.

07: WolfWise team to deploy GroupWise 8 Dec. 3-5
The WolfWise Implementation Team has made tentative plans to deploy GroupWise 8 (GW8) to central e-mail system users Dec. 3-5. E-mail service will be unavailable during the upgrade. WolfWise is NC State’s implementation of Novell GroupWise for its single centrally-supported calendaring and e-mail solution. Check SysNews for updates on the deployment. 

The GW8 deployment will apply back-end fixes for known bugs, improve IMAP stability, allow for ActiveSync (for mobile devices) and improve the performance of Windows, Mac, Web and Linux clients. Once GW8 is deployed, customers may choose to upgrade to the GW8 client on their computers, but this action is not required. Customers who do not upgrade their client should see no difference in service.

08: OIT Lunch & Learn: The Genius of WordPress on Nov. 17
OIT’s Brown Bag Lunch and Learn series will present “The Genius of WordPress” from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 17 in 216 Scott Hall. Jennifer Riehle of OIT Design, Education and Outreach will talk about what makes WordPress, a popular content management system and blog tool, so awesome; how to get it and get started (including themes, widgets, plug-ins and more); and conclude with a look at what’s new in the latest release. To register, visit Classmate.

09: OIT to phase out legacy wireless support for 802.11/802.11b
In order to move the campus wireless network to the latest Wi-Fi technology – 802.11n, OIT is phasing out support of legacy wireless devices on the university’s wireless network. Carter Finley wireless, which is a separate wireless infrastructure, will not be impacted.

On Monday, Dec. 20, OIT will disable support for the lower data rates of 1Mbs, 2Mbs and 5.5Mbs, which means support for 802.11 devices, sold prior to year 2000, will be dropped. Support for 802.11b devices will continue until the summer of 2011, but only at the highest 802.11b data rate of 11Mbs. This action is necessary because 802.11b devices lack support of strong encryption such as WPA2, EAP and 802.1x, and these devices degrade wireless performance on 802.11g and 802.11n networks. More information about this project will be available on the ComTech Wireless Web site soon.

10: SAR training scheduled for Nov. 30
Security Access Request (SAR) training for campus requestors and approvers of access to secured university data will be held from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Nov. 30 in the ITTC Lab 2 of D.H. Hill Library. SAR training will not be held in December. Please visit Classmate to view available classes and to sign up for training.

11: Beware of FireSheep!
OIT Security and Compliance warns campus users about a new peril of using open Wi-Fi networks – FireSheep, a “Web site user account hijacking tool.”

FireSheep, a new add-on for the Mozilla Firefox browser, makes it easy for amateurs to “side-jack” your unencrypted connections on open networks that could be, for example, in your favorite coffee shop, in a library, or from an unsecured router in your home. It allows others to use your access on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, bit.ly, Flickr and other popular services, because while your userid and password on these sites are encrypted, your remaining session is not. For more details, see CNN’s “Using Wi-Fi? FireSheep may endanger your security” and Digital Society’s “Online services security report card.”

Side-jacking can also affect other browsers (e.g., Chrome, Safari, Opera and Internet Explorer) on unsecured wireless networks. The fundamental problem lies with Web sites that do not use https:// to protect your session, and this issue needs to be fixed by Web site companies to protect your privacy. Generally, to avoid this problem, you will need to use encryption in some form. Here are some options you may choose:

  • Use https:// wherever possible to access browser applications. This will allow you to avoid FireSheep interception. Most banks and shopping sites support this fully encrypted mode.
  • Install and configure the Force-TLS Firefox add-on that forces all connections to use https:// for sites that you designate.
  • Use an encrypted virtual private network (VPN) over any open Wi-Fi networks that you use to access unencrypted sites.
  • Avoid using open Wi-Fi networks at all for logging into unencrypted sites that do not use https://.

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For help with computing at NC State, contact the NC State University Help Desk:
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