OIT News – July 2013

OIT News

Monthly news briefs, information and announcements
Office of Information Technology, NC State University
Issue 69, July 2013


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

01: Computer purchasing program is mandatory for NC State
02: OIT publishes 2012-13 Annual Report: A Collaborative Spirit
03: Say hello to “On Campus at NC State” mobile app
04: OIT expands Microsoft Window Server site licenses, awaits Adobe licensing update
05: OIT completes migration from Novell NetWare to Microsoft Active Directory
06: NC State recognized as innovator in new networking technology
07: Go Links gets an upgrade
08: OIT to offer website accessibility training
09: SAR training scheduled for Aug. 6
10: Do you need to run antivirus software on your smartphone?

01: Computer purchasing program is mandatory for NC State
In 2010, the University of North Carolina General Administration (UNC-GA) announced the Combined Purchasing Initiative (CPI) for desktop and laptop computer purchases. CPI was developed in response to Senate Bill 202, requiring the UNC system to save money and improve efficiencies by consolidating IT purchases. Participation in this program is mandatory for NC State.

NC State faculty and staff have embraced this initiative and continue to participate in the UNC-GA Computer Procurement Task Force, which renews the desktop and laptop configuration specifications for inclusion in the CPI each year. The task force also monitors pricing and requires vendors to update system prices to be competitive with other purchasing channels. While this program has saved the UNC system significant money in equipment and support costs over the past three years, it requires continued vigilance on the part of all NC State IT hardware purchasers to adhere to the following procedures:

  • Purchasers are required to use the university’s MarketPlace e-procurement system for computers rather than a purchase order, voucher, campus PCard, or personal reimbursement.
  • At NC State, CPI applies to computer purchases made from all funding sources.
  • Campus must procure approved standard configurations from CPI participating suppliers – Lenovo, Dell and CDWG (HP reseller) – available only through the MarketPlace.
  • All non-standard purchases must be approved by a college or division-level IT Director or other designee prior to being ordered.
  • All non-standard purchases are reported to UNC-GA and the state of North Carolina, annually. Total expenditures for exception purchases may not exceed 20 percent of the funds used for PC purchases.

For more information, visit UNC Combined Initiative (CPI) Program at NC State.

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02: OIT publishes 2012-13 Annual Report: A Collaborative Spirit
OIT recently published its 2012-13 Annual Report: A Collaborative Spirit, which highlights the organization’s efforts to enhance information and communication technology services on campus as well as staff accolades and accomplishments this past fiscal year.

This year’s report also spotlights the University IT Strategic Planning Progress, which is expected to produce the first-ever university-wide IT strategic plan later this fall. When complete, the plan will provide a vision and framework for how the university’s comprehensive IT environment can best support and accelerate achievement of the mission, vision, and goals of NC State, as conveyed in The Pathway to the Future: NC State’s 2011-2020 Strategic Plan.

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03: Say hello to “On Campus at NC State” mobile app
OIT announces the availability of On Campus, the new mobile app that puts campus information at the fingertips of current and prospective students, faculty and visitors.

Compatible with the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch (at iOS 5.1 or later) and Android (at 2.3.3 or higher), the app is available in the App Store and in Google Play, respectively. Here are some of the things you can do with the app:

  • Find people on campus by searching the directory
  • Check out events on the campus calendar
  • Find buildings using an interactive campus map
  • Keep up with what’s happening in the news at NC State
  • Discover other mobile apps that can help you out while you’re on campus

For more information about the app, and to see some cool screen captures of the information it provides, visit oncampus.ncsu.edu.

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04: OIT expands Microsoft Window Server site licenses, awaits Adobe licensing update
OIT has expanded the Microsoft Windows Server site license to include System Center, a systems management product.

With the heavy use of Windows Server and the increasing campus use of System Center and other Microsoft software, the new agreement provides a cost-effective solution for unlimited licensing on university machines.

Adobe licensing

OIT Software Licensing Management is working with Adobe Inc. to find solutions for the new licensing changes that went into effect on May 31 and will notify campus users when new information is available.

Essentially, the new licensing model has discontinued maintenance on Adobe’s Creative Suite (CS) products, effectively eliminating software upgrades. Versions newer than CS6 can be purchased only through Creative Cloud, Adobe’s new subscription-based service. This results in higher annual charges and more difficult management, which will create challenges for some colleges and departments. For more information, see Adobe FAQs.

For additional information regarding these products, contact OIT Software Licensing Management at software@ncsu.edu.

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05: OIT completes migration from Novell NetWare to Microsoft Active Directory
On June 28, OIT turned off the final Novell NetWare servers — completing the migration of all users and data to Active Directory — in time for the Novell license expiration on June 30.

Active Directory provides computer management services for Windows computers — from logins, printing and security to software installations for 17,000 campus computers. It also allows support of Cisco Unity voicemail accounts, and MyPack Portal logins, among many other services. This migration eliminated dependency on outdated servers and storage and eliminated Novell software licensing costs.

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06: NC State recognized as innovator in new networking technology
NC State is using software-defined networking (SDN), an emerging networking technology, to change the way it provides network access to university resources.

In a software-defined network, network administrators can completely control network traffic via a software interface without having to manually touch individual switches.

OIT Communication Technologies (ComTech) is developing open source software leveraging SDN to replace a portion of its expensive, complex and proprietary network admission control system for campus wired network ports that are part of the Nomadic computing environment. Available in conference rooms across campus, these ports allow campus users to move large quantities of data across the network.

The new SDN network admission control application aims to provide an efficient, customized, enriched “Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)” experience for campus users and visitors. The university can securely verify users’ access to the network and route them to the most pertinent digital resource based on their role, work and/or discipline. For example, a visiting particle physics expert could have his identity and device recognized and immediately routed to the institution’s dedicated physics network, cloud and other digital resources.

ComTech was recently selected as one of eight recipients of the 2013 Internet2 Innovative Application Award for the project led by Will Brockelsby, lead network architect. The award program recognized proposals of “new and advanced applications that can help lead the transformation of Internet2 campus research, science and education by taking advantage of SDN and 100G capabilities of the Internet2 Innovation Platform.” The project is expected to be completed in September.

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07: Go Links gets an upgrade
Go Links, NC State’s own short URL generator, was upgraded on July 3. In addition to a new look for the Welcome page — redesigned to embrace NC State branding standards — there are several features that have been removed, added or enhanced for improved efficiency.

What’s Gone

  • The ability to “theme” a link, which added a toolbar to the top of the linked page when displaying it. The presence of a toolbar caused major printing problems, as well as introduced a level of complexity when trying to display the linked page on a mobile device. All Go Links now go directly to the target URL specified in the Go Link.
  • The ability to add Google Analytics to a link. Out of 10,000-plus links, only 32 used the Google Analytics options, and some of those were test links created during the development of the Go Links application. Go Links provides its own statistics.

What’s New

  • The Link Directory function, which is used to find your own links, links shared with you, or all links.
  • The Top 10 Statistics function, which provides a quick snapshot  of the top 10 referring URLs, the top 10 browsers used to access the Go Link, the top 10 IP addresses of the users clicking on the Go Link, and the top 10 modifiers used on the Go Link.
  • The Link Details layout has been simplified, making it easier to find what you’re looking for, and things that take longer to calculate and display, such as the statistics, have been moved to a separate section, making the Link Details faster to load for everyone.
  • Although most users won’t notice, the admin interface has been improved to allow easier search and management of the links, banned phrases, as well as investigation of invalid links that anyone attempted to create.

For more information or any questions about the service, visit Go Links Help.

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08: OIT to offer website accessibility training
OIT is offering the following accessibility workshops:

  • “Interpreting Your Accessibility Scan Report” will be offered on Tuesday, July 16 from noon to 1 p.m. in ITTC Lab 1A of D.H. Hill Library and again on Wednesday, Aug. 14 from noon to 1 p.m. in Room 110 of the Avent Ferry Technology Center. This workshop will teach you how to interpret the results of your website accessibility scan. Learn which errors are more critical to deal with and which are not as essential to fix. Also, learn strategies for prioritizing your corrections and techniques for doing so. For more information and to register, visit Classmate.
  • “Website Accessibility Tune-Ups” will be offered on Friday, Aug. 16 from noon to 1 p.m. in Room 110 of the Avent Ferry Technology Center. Do you have questions about your website’s accessibility, but don’t know who or what to ask? Bring your questions and website URL to this workshop and learn easy steps to make your site more accessible. To register, visit Classmate.

Check the Classmate training calendar for other available workshops. If you’re interested in custom software training for your department, unit or classroom, please complete the Custom Training form. If you have any questions about OIT training, please contact Katie McInerney, OIT’s new training coordinator, at 513-4091 or via email at classreg@ncsu.edu.

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09: SAR training scheduled for Aug. 6
Security Access Request (SAR) training for campus requestors and approvers of access to secured university data will be held Tuesday, Aug. 6 from 9:30 a.m. to noon in the ITTC Lab 2 of D.H. Hill Library. Please visit Classmate to sign up for training.

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10: Do you need to run antivirus software on your smartphone?
You should run antivirus software on your smartphone. Why? There are more than 134 million smartphones in the United States, which accounts for 57 percent of all mobile phones. Hundreds of thousands of apps that run on these smartphones are available online and some are malicious.

Until recently, much of the mobile malware was affecting phones in countries other than the U.S. However, the number of smartphones in the U.S. continues to grow and that is attracting more malware development. Recent reports from computer security analysts show that malware writers appear to be focusing their efforts almost exclusively on Android devices with the total number of malware variants more than doubling over the past year. Trend Micro predicts there will be more than a million samples of mobile malware in the Android market by the end of the year — four times last year’s number. AppRiver reports that smartphones running Google’s Android operating system account for more than 90 percent of all mobile device malware.

Now that Android 4.x is available, users of  Android 2.x or 3.x are at a greater risk because they will no longer receive further security patches from their cell phone providers. Most Android phones are still not running antivirus software and that makes them an easy target for mobile malware creators. Even the cell phone providers are making recommendations and partnering with anti-malware companies for Android security software. For your phone, try Googling:  android mobile security to get a antivirus recommendation.

If you have not installed a malware scanner on your Android device, OIT Security and Compliance recommends trying the following antivirus products, which are available in the Google Play Store:

  • Sophos Security and Antivirus
  • Lookout Security and Antivirus
  • Avast Mobile Security and Antivirus

What if you use a iPhone, iPad or Blackberry?

So, if you have an iPhone, iPad or Blackberry, you can probably relax. The malware that affects the Apple devices only works if the iOS device is modified to run software from sources other than the Apple App Store. And, the amount of malware developed for the Blackberry is so small that it is unlikely you will encounter it.

Apple iOS and Blackberry owners are reminded to install operating system (OS) and application updates to keep their devices secure. All smartphone users should:

  • Password protect their device
  • Use device encryption
  • Configure their device so it can be remotely wiped and located if it is lost or stolen

For more recommendations, take a look at Mobile Device Security Requirements and Recommendations.

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