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IT Blog Posts

Email Spam Attacks – Be Careful!

November 26th, 2014 Francis Frain

Members of the Emerson Community may have received an email with the subject beginning with “Fax…” with either attached documents or links claiming to be a fax. Several weeks ago, there were similar emails like this that claimed to be voicemails.

Like all malicious spam, these attachments and/or links contain software that seeks to compromise your account and your computer, and must not be opened.
Atlas_snowshoes

If you have already opened the attachments or followed the links, please change your password immediately at password.emerson.edu and contact the Help Desk.

This is a classification of spam known as “Snowshoe” that’s being reported from multiple businesses and institutions, and that spam prevention providers (including Emerson’s, powered by Sophos) are working to reliably filter.

Given this, it’s especially important that users take extra caution, both with their personal and business email, to not open any suspicious messages. Always err on the side of caution.

Again, if you need to change your password, you can do so at password.emerson.edu, and feel free to contact the IT Help Desk with any questions by phone at 617-824-8080 or online at it.emerson.edu/help.

Have a nice day and a happy Thanksgiving!


IT Downtime During December Break (Dec. 28th)

November 24th, 2014 Francis Frain

Good afternoon,

IT is pleased to announce that we are moving all campus servers and core networking equipment to a large-scale IT facility at 1 Summer Street (the Markley Group) in Downtown Crossing. The Markley Group is a widely used and trusted data center – having our IT infrastructure housed at this high-end facility will increase the resilience of our critical campus technology.

Bose Corporation

To limit inconvenience, we have scheduled the move to be conducted during the holiday break in December. The operation will require that we bring down all IT services on Sunday, December 28th between 6am and noon.

The Emerson website, www.emerson.edu, will remain up, but all other IT services will be down. This includes, but is not limited to, email, Banner, eCommon, Canvas, Median, Cabinet, and Pages, as well as outside services that rely on Emerson usernames and passwords, such as Google Apps for Education, SchoolDude, and Course Evaluations.
Users who visit these services will see a notice explaining the downtime and when to check back. All email messages sent to Emerson users during the downtime will be queued and delivered when the mail system is back online.

For questions or concerns prior to the move, please email or call the Help Desk. For more on the Markley Group, please visit http://www.markleygroup.com/.
We will send a notice when all services are back online.

Thanks very much for working with us!


New Canvas Features for November

November 8th, 2014 Christopher Connors

Canvas has been just as busy as you these past few weeks. While there have been lots of little changes in the admin-side of things, two very visible features will be arriving soon to assist you in how you moderate quizzes and review student activity in your course.

Moderate Quiz Updates

The Moderate Quiz page has an updated design for a cleaner look. Additionally, the page also adds functionality for improving outstanding quiz verifications for large courses.

When a student views a timed quiz and time expires, Canvas auto-submits the quiz. However, if a student navigates away from the quiz page, the quiz submission remains outstanding. Previously instructors had to manually submit each outstanding quiz individually as indicated in the Time column as Time Up! Now, when instructors open the Moderate Quiz page, Canvas generates a warning message so instructors can manually check outstanding submissions for the entire quiz at one time.

Screen shoot of the new quiz moderation page.

User Access Report Additions

User access is now logged in the following areas of Canvas:

Course Home Page
Outcomes
Modules

At the course level, user access activity appears in a user’s Access Report. User access information also displays at the account level in user page views.

accessreport

As always, don’t hesitate to call ITG at 617-824-8090 or email us at itg@emerson.edu if you have any questions about this update or Canvas in general. For the full release notes from Instructure, visit this link.


IT Communications Playbook

October 30th, 2014 carlin_corrigan

playbookIT has a dedicated Communications Team that oversees all of our messages to the Emerson community. It’s helped coordinate and standardize all of our communication practices and we feel it has improved our connection with the college. This playbook is intended to outline how we work, why it works well, and how you can use these best practices to improve your departmental communications with the college.

You can read the playbook here on the IT website.


New Canvas Features – October

October 18th, 2014 Christopher Connors

New Canvas Features for October 2014

The latest updates from Instructure to Canvas include some very popular requests that we’ve been getting from faculty since Canvas was first introduced here at Emerson. We here at ITG wanted to take some time and highlight the two biggest, new features! As always, the full feature list can be found on Instructure’s website, or by going here.

New Grading Symbol For Quizzes in Gradebook

When students complete a quiz that includes a manually graded question, the Grades page displays a Quiz icon instead of the current score, indicating that the quiz score is not yet complete. When students hover over the icon, students can view a message indicating that grading is in progress.

Student Grading Screenshot

The Quiz icon displays in the Gradebook for instructors as well, indicating that some questions in the quiz need to be graded manually. When the instructor assigns a score for the manually graded question, the icon for both the instructor and the student will be replaced with the complete quiz grade.

Screenshot of New Quiz Symbol For Instructors

Note: For instructors, the Quiz icon in the Gradebook can also mean that a Quiz score has been deleted and a new score needs to be assigned.

CC Yourself in Conversations

The Number One requested feature from Emerson faculty has finally made it into Canvas Conversations.

Users can set a new notification preference that allows them to receive a copy of all conversations they created. When enabled by the user, this feature allows users to see what conversations have been sent and how they appear in their specified communication channels.

Note: When a user creates a group message and clicks the Send Individual Messages checkbox, Canvas generates only one notification for the sent message. Notifications cannot be sent from the beta environment.

CC Conversations Screenshot

Reminder: In Conversations, sent messages appear in the Sent folder. When a message receives a reply, the message thread will appear in the Inbox. When a user creates a group message and clicks the Send Individual Messages checkbox, the Sent folder displays one message for each user, as replies are treated as individual messages.

As always, feel free to get in contact with us if you have any questions about integrating Canvas into your teaching. We can be reached via phone a 617-824-8090 or via email at itg@emerson.edu.


National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

October 1st, 2014 hana_carpenter

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month! To show Emerson’s commitment to cybersecurity, we are partnering with the Department of Homeland Security, the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), to promote the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign. The campaign is an awareness effort designed to help Americans practice safer online habits, and to encourage everyone to view Internet safety as a shared responsibility.

In the spirit of this month of awareness, Emerson IT has chosen to focus on two major issues during October: phishing and online identity protection.

Phishing is any attempt to acquire confidential information from users by masquerading as a trustworthy entity. According to Kaspersky labs, between 2012 and 2013, 37.3 million Internet users around the world were subjected to a phishing attack†. The Emerson community has been the target of phishing attacks before, sometimes even by phishers claiming to be affiliated with the College. Alertness is the best protection against phishing! Emerson IT has written a guide for simple things to look for in any email to investigate its legitimacy.

Phishing attacks aren’t the only way that people can lose control of their information online. Sometimes what we share on social media in the process of building our online identities can work against us, too. More than a third of employers use, or plan to use, social media to research potential candidates, and this number can only be higher in tech-affiliated industries. Jobs in the entertainment and marketing industries are often obtained using social networking, and arguably the easiest way to make these connections is online. If you want to verify your online identity for professionalism, accuracy, and security, a simple start would be Googling yourself and checking the results. To learn how to change your privacy settings on popular websites, visit this page on the NCSA’s website. Take control of your personal information!

Awareness is a crucial precursor to action. Throughout the month of October, keep an eye on the @EmersonIT Twitter account and your ECMail inbox for more information on cybercrime and what you can do to prevent it.

The Evolution of Phishing Attacks 2011 – 2013
http://www.dhs.gov/publication/stopthinkconnect-student-resources


File naming standards: eliminate future headaches

September 18th, 2014 Paula Damigella

There are a lot of reasons that file naming standards should be your best friends. They are rad, responsible, and reliable. Just like the three R’s of old.

But most importantly – you will not run into problems opening your files on another computer, uploading them to Canvas, or attaching them to an email. The reason? By following the tenets listed below, you have significantly decreased the chances of the file becoming corrupted or unusable. Go you!

Adapted from the University of Stanford’s list, here are some best practices to follow when naming your files:

  • Never use special characters – such as  ~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) ` ; < > ? , [ ] { } ‘ ” and |. Avoid at all costs! If you’re not capitalizing a letter or generating an underscore, you shouldn’t be hitting the shift key. 
  • Keep it chronological. Using the format YYYYMMDD or YYMMDD ensures all of your files stay in chronological order, for years to come.
  • Keep names as short as possible. Depending on the software, longer file names may not work or be recognized.
  • Use zeros to ensure numerical order. When using a sequential numbering system, using leading zeros for clarity and to make sure files sort in sequential order. For example, use “001, 002, …010, 011 … 100, 101, etc.” instead of “1, 2, …10, 11 … 100, 101, etc.”
  • Do not use spaces. Some software on sites will not recognize file names with spaces. Try using these methods to denote spaces:
    • Underscores, e.g. file_name.xxx
    • Dashes, e.g. file-name.xxx
    • No separation, e.g. filename.xxx
    • Camel case, where the first letter of each section of text is capitalized, e.g. FileName.xxx

Further reading: http://library.stanford.edu/research/data-management-services/case-studies/case-study-file-naming

Across the pond: http://www2.le.ac.uk/services/research-data/organise-data/naming-files


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