OIT News – February 2014

OIT News
Monthly news briefs, information and announcements
Office of Information Technology, NC State University
Issue 76, February 2014


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


01: OIT revises Data Management Procedures, publishes Data Sensitivity Framework
02: OIT releases Windows XP Exception Procedures
03: DC2 Team to begin power and cooling renovations
04: Gertrude Cox Award nominations due Feb. 19
05: FOSS Fair is March 1
06: Upcoming Google Apps and Website Accessibility training
07: SAR training scheduled for April 2
08: Be careful what you click on!


01: OIT revises Data Management Procedures, publishes Data Sensitivity Framework
As part of a continuing effort to safeguard the university’s most sensitive data, OIT coordinated a major revision to REG 08.00.03 – Data Management Procedures that:

  • explains how the university defines what data are sensitive and need to be handled with extra care,
  • describes the flow of authority for all university data, and
  • characterizes five new levels of data classification:
    • Purple: Ultra-sensitive,
    • Red: Highly sensitive,
    • Yellow: Moderately sensitive,
    • Green: Normal, not sensitive, and
    • White: Unclassified.

Because the management of sensitive data can be a complex and highly interpretive task, OIT has published the Data Sensitivity Framework, a complement of supporting documentation intended to help the university community interpret and apply the regulation.

Where to go for help

Data sensitivity is an issue that raises many questions, and these documents will help you begin to resolve those questions. If you need additional assistance, please contact security@ncsu.edu.

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02: OIT releases Windows XP Exception Procedures
As of April 8, 2014, Microsoft will no longer offer security patches for Windows XP. In addition, Microsoft will not provide Windows XP with any additional or enhanced device support or upgrades to software functionality and compatibility.

To ensure the safety of the campus network, campus departments should immediately begin identifying any computers running Windows XP or earlier versions of Windows and upgrading them to supported versions of Windows (Windows 7 or later) by May 12, 2014Windows is site licensed for university-owned machinesand you can obtain media for Windows 7 or 8 from Software @ NC State. Contact your local IT support for assistance with your upgrade.

If upgrading is not possible and your computer must remain connected to the campus network after the Windows XP end-of-life date, then follow the exception process outlined below. Justifications are required for all exceptions. OIT Security and Compliance and Communication Technologies (ComTech) will coordinate with Campus Information Technology Directors (CITD) representatives and/or their delegates to move these machines to a separate campus network designed to handle these exceptions. Please note that although the current focus is on Windows XP, if you locate machines running other unmaintained operating systems (for example, Windows NT), you should follow the exception process below.

Machines with Windows XP (or earlier)  found on the network after the May 12, 2014 deadline will be disconnected.

Exception Process

What to do for Windows XP Machines that still need network connections

  • Both Windows XP and Campus Network Connection Required
    For example, if an electron microscope needs Windows XP to run its imaging software and also needs to connect to the campus network to transfer very large image files to the central storage server for processing, then an exception would be warranted.
  • Both Windows XP and Internet Connection Required
    For example, if an instrument that is connected to a Windows XP machine must also connect to the Internet for vendor support, instrumentation software functionality, or instrumentation software updates, then an exception must be requested.

In cases like those described above, inform your Campus IT Directors (CITD) representative or delegate of your specific needs as soon as possible prior to March 28, 2014.  See Windows XP CITD Contact & Exception Process for a list of these. You must provide justifications for all exceptions. Your CITD representative must approve exceptions for your area. OIT will not accept submissions from anyone other than CITD representatives or their delegates. If your department is part of the OIT Managed Desktop service or your unit is not in the list, please send your requests to the NC State Help Desk at help@ncsu.edu or call 919-515-HELP (4357).

What to expect if you use a Windows XP laptop that connects to the campus wireless network
You may be able to connect your Windows XP laptop to the campus wireless network temporarily, but its unsupported operating system poses a threat to the network, so you may be disconnected without warning. To avoid this, you will need to upgrade your laptop’s operating system before the May 12, 2014 deadline.

What to do if your Windows XP machine doesn’t need a network connection
If you need to continue to use a Windows XP machine without connecting it to the campus network, please do all of the following before the May 12, 2014 deadline:

  • Have the machine de-registered from host registration. Contact your local IT support for assistance with this. Only LAN administrators have access to this site. If the machine is then connected to the network accidentally, it will not get a campus network address.
  • Physically disconnect the machine from the campus network (unplug the network cable).
  • Clearly label the machine so that others will know not to reconnect it to the network.

Please note that if this machine is reconnected to the network, it will be disconnected without warning.

If you have questions about this process, please contact the NC State Help Desk at 515-HELP (4357) or help@ncsu.edu.

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03: DC2 Team to begin power and cooling renovations
In March, the Data Center 2 (DC2) Project Team will install new plumbing — including a tap into the campus chilled water loop — in DC2. This work is part of a seven-month power and cooling renovation project that includes the installation of:

  • a new backup chiller and four chilled water HVAC units that will enable the facility to be cooled 100 percent by chilled water; and
  • an independent backup generator to reduce the non-data center loads on the existing generator.

These renovations will help mitigate risks of future cooling-related outages in DC2.

In preparation for the tap installation, the team conducted a test on Feb. 12 to simulate the conditions of the tap installation that will occur in the center in early March. During the test, the chilled water supply to the center’s water-cooled doors was shut off and effects observed. This test was successful and yielded valuable data that will be used to develop appropriate mitigation steps.

A similar cooling exercise will be conducted on Wednesday, Feb. 19 to replicate the conditions of plumbing installation that will occur in late March. The chilled water supply for the center’s existing chilled water units will be manually shut off and the effects observed to determine supplemental cooling or procedural changes. The plumbing installation is expected to last several weeks.

Project impact

During both the tap and plumbing installations, there will be no planned full shutdown of IT services. Because of the nature of the pending work, there is a risk that degradation of some IT services is possible.

For more information, visit SysNews, the official source of news and updates for the DC2 renovation project.

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04: Gertrude Cox Award nominations due Feb. 19
The deadline for nominations for the 2013-2014 Gertrude Cox Award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching and Learning with Technology has been extended to Wednesday, Feb. 19.

Established in fall 2002, the award honors Gertrude Cox, “The First Lady of Statistics,” who came to NC State in 1940 to establish the Department of Statistics.

It recognizes and honors “the creative pedagogy of NC State’s faculty and technical staff and their work in integrating new technologies into effective teaching strategies” during the 2012-2013 academic year .

For more information or to submit a nomination, visit the Gertrude Cox Award website. Awards will be presented at the Teaching and Learning Symposium sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Office of Faculty Development on Tuesday, April 15 at the Jane S. McKimmon Center.

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05: FOSS Fair is March 1
Enthusiasts of free and open source software (FOSS) are invited to attend FOSS Fair 2014 on Saturday, March 1 beginning at 9 a.m. in Engineering Building II (EB2) on NC State’s Centennial Campus.

Sponsored by the Linux Users Group at NC State, the unconference event will allow participants to engage in an array of free and open source software topics. Participants can suggest a session, volunteer to give a talk, and register for the event on the FOSS Fair 2014 website. Breakfast and lunch will be provided courtesy of Red Hat Inc. to individuals who register by noon Monday, Feb. 17.

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06: Upcoming Google Apps and Website Accessibility training
OIT is offering the following workshops:

  • “Website Accessibility Tune-Ups” will be offered on Tuesday, Feb. 18 and on Friday, March 14 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? Greg Kraus, University IT Accessibility Coordinator, will offer some easy steps to make your site more accessible. Even if you don’t have a website to share, you are welcome to come learn more about accessibility. To register, visit Classmate.
  • “Gmail: Beyond the Basics” will be offered on Tuesday, Feb. 18 from 9 a.m. to noon in Room 110 of the Avent Ferry Technology Center. In this workshop, you will receive an in-depth overview of Google Apps @ NC State. This session will cover many Gmail features (labels, search tools, settings, etc.) along with an overview of the Compose interface, contacts management and tasks. A reference guide with additional helpful resources will also be provided. If you would prefer using your own laptop or other mobile device, feel free to bring it. There is ample WiFi service available in the classrooms. You should have basic familiarity with Gmail operations (account log-in, composing, responding to mail, etc). as a prerequisite. To register, visit Classmate.
  • “Create and Collaborate with Google Docs/Drive” will be offered on Thursday, Feb. 20 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the ITTC Lab 2 of D.H. Hill Library and again on Tuesday, March 11 from 10 a.m. to noon in Room 110 of the Avent Ferry Technology Center. In this hands-on workshop, you will learn how to use Docs/Drive in a collaborative environment, including editing a file simultaneously with other people, securing a document through file sharing permissions, and creating files for use by a group of colleagues or friends. For this workshop, you will need to have an active NC State University Unity account with access to Google Apps @ NC State. If you would prefer using your own laptop or other mobile device, feel free to bring it. To register, visit Classmate.
  • “Google Drive: Sheets” will be offered on Tuesday, Feb. 25 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Room 110 of the Avent Ferry Technology Center. With a recent update to Google Spreadsheets, a multitude of new features and functionalities are now available. During this two-hour workshop, you will be given an overview of Sheets and learn how it differs from Microsoft Excel. You will also learn about features, including formatting options, find and replace, and notifications. To register, visit Classmate.
  • “Interpreting Your Accessibility Scan Report” will be offered on Thursday, Feb. 27 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 from your 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. To register, visit Classmate.
  • “Introduction to Google Sites” will be offered on Tuesday, March 4 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Room 110 of the Avent Ferry Technology Center. In this class, you will learn how to create a website using Google Sites, how to control access, and how to embed Docs, video, images, and links. You’ll also learn some customization and basic Web design principles. To register, visit Classmate.
  • “Gmail: Advanced Tools, Tips & Tricks” will be offered on Wednesday, March 5 from 9 a.m. to noon in Room 110 of the Avent Ferry Technology Center. If you’re comfortable with the basics of Gmail and are ready to take it to the next level, this more advanced hands-on workshop is for you. You will learn more about creating labels, filters and canned responses, scheduling Google Calendar Events, and using Google Drive through Gmail, along with any planned or newly released features. To register, visit Classmate.
  • “Google Apps: Google Calendar” will be offered on Thursday, March 13 from 9 a.m. to noon in Room 110 of the Avent Ferry Technology Center. In this workshop, you will focus on Calendar features including appointment slots, event attachments, maps and directions, sharing and embedding calendars, labs, quick add, search options, mobile notifications, and more. To  register, visit Classmate.

For other available training sessions, see Classmate Scheduled 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 training coordinator, at 513-4091 or via email at classreg@ncsu.edu.

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07: SAR training scheduled for April 2
Security Access Request (SAR) training for campus requestors and approvers of access to secured university data will be held Wednesday, April 2 from 9:30 a.m. to noon in Room 108 of the Avent Ferry Technology Center. Please visit Classmate to sign up for training.

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08: Be careful what you click on!
A cool thing about your Google Apps @ NC State account is that you can easily share documents with others. However, this type of sharing can also open your cyber door to data predators, like phishers!

In 2014, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) has seen an uptick in phishing attacks targeting the campus community. More than 200 individuals with university accounts have fallen prey to these attacks, causing their accounts to become compromised, and thus suspended.

OIT reminds you to be “click-savvy” when it comes to links to Google docs or websites within an email and offers the following advice.

What does a phishing email look like?

In recent phishing attacks, campus users received an email (possibly from someone they knew whose account had been hacked) that included a link to a Google doc with a message similar to the following:

“Please view the document I uploaded for you using Google docs. Click here just sign in with your email to view the document its very important. Thank you.”

As with many phishing attacks, the grammar is poor, but it could sound legitimate if coming from a friend or classmate you are working with.

Another red flag of a possible attack is a link that requires an additional login in order to open the document. You shouldn’t have to sign in again if you’re following a link from a Gmail session where you’ve already been authenticated. Clicking on the link can actually start a chain of events that can lead to your account being compromised.

To see specific examples of phishing sites, visit the Google Docs Phishing Gallery.

How can I tell if the document link is legitimate?

  • If you’re a desktop user, you can just hover over the link to see where it is going. In this latest campus attack, users were directed to a website in Russia, not to google.com.
  • If you’re a mobile device or tablet user, you need to be extra careful! Learn how to view a link in your specific device without clicking on it, or just wait until you are on a desktop browser and can confirm the link is going to a valid address.

Why do phishers always try to steal passwords?

Phishers typically try to gain access to your password to send more spam. However, some phishers look for financial or other personal information, which can lead to the theft of your identity.

How can I protect myself?

  • Always use different passwords for different online accounts. Make sure that your email password is not the same as the one for your online banking account.
  • Never store credit card or other personal information in your email account.
  • Use Google’s 2-Step Verification for an extra layer of protection for your account.
  • Visit the Data Privacy Month 2014 website for other suggestions for staying safe online.

If you receive a phishing email, forward it to abuse@ncsu.edu or call the NC State Help Desk at 515-HELP (4357). Remember, the Help Desk staff will never ask for your password via email or over the telephone.

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