February 2018

0 Commentsby   |  03.07.18  |  Security

February 2018, By The Numbers

Here are Computing Services’ statistics for February 2018:

  • 110 end-user support requests resolved
  • 65 development and administration issues resolved
  • 18 projects-in-progress
  • projects completed
  • projects requested
  • 99.74% average uptime

Improving Financial Aid Services

In cooperation with Computing Services, Student Financial Services (SFS) recently implemented and continues to roll out CampusLogic to streamline processes and workflows related to financial aid forms and award letters.  The new platform is an interactive and intuitive way to allow students to complete required documents electronically without the additional hassle and fraud risk of sending paper documents.  The new award letter platform enables students and parents to receive their award letters through email and text messages that link directly to their letter.  Having the award letters in this format allows SFS to provide crucial financial resources through links to videos, checklists and printable PDF files, which answer common financial aid related questions.

Project Success With A Small Team

The last few springs we have had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Brad Crisp’s Systems Analysis and Design class to share our project management processes and tools.  Here are a few of our keys to success that we shared with students last month:

  • Prioritize so that the university’s most important needs are addressed first.
  • Hold daily standup meetings for brief, regular communication.
  • Use an iterative process to deliver more quickly.
  • Regularly identify enhancements to processes for continuous improvement.

Protect Yourself While Traveling

Traveling today is so much easier with technology. You can you stay productive, entertained, and in touch. For many, having a cell phone or other electronic device is a critical part of having a great travel experience and an integral part of daily life. Unfortunately, traveling with devices can mean increased risks for keeping your personal data private as well as the potential for device theft. Experts often suggest leaving your device at home or using a loaner device when traveling, but this isn’t always a viable option. Here are some tips to protect your data and devices while traveling.

How to Protect Your Data and Devices While Traveling with Tech

0 Commentsby   |  03.01.18  |  Security

Due to enhanced security measures in most countries, travelers with tech should be prepared for possible disruptions or additional wait times during the screening process. Here are some steps you can take to help secure your devices and your privacy.

Good to know:

  • While traveling within the United States, TSA agents at the gate are not allowed to confiscate your digital devices or demand your passwords.
  • Different rules apply to U.S. border patrol agents and agents in other countries. Federal border patrol agents have broad authority to search everyone entering the U.S. This includes looking through any electronic devices you have with you while you are traveling. They can seize your devices and make a copy for experts to examine offsite. Learn more from the Electronic Frontier Foundation about digital privacy at the U.S. border.

Protect your tech and data when traveling:

  • Travel only with the data that you need; look at reducing the amount of digital information that you take with you. This may mean leaving some of your devices at home, using temporary devices, removing personal data from your devices, or shifting your data to a secure cloud service. Authorities or criminals can’t search what you don’t have.
  • Most travelers will likely decide that inconvenience overrides risk and travel with electronic devices anyway. If this is the case, travelers should focus on protecting the information that they take with them. One of the best ways to do this is to use encryption. Make sure to fully encrypt your device and make a full backup of the data that you leave at home.
  • Before you arrive at the border, travelers should power off their devices. This is when the encryption services are at their strongest and will help resist a variety of high-tech attacks that may attempt to break your encryption. Travelers should not rely solely on biometric locks, which can be less secure than passwords.
  • Make sure to log out of browsers and apps that give you access to online content, and remove any saved login credentials (turn off cookies and autofill). This will prevent anyone from using your devices (without your knowledge) to access your private online information. You could also temporarily uninstall mobile apps and clear browser history so that it is not immediately apparent which online services you use.

Get your device travel ready:

  • Change your passwords or passphrases before you go. Consider using a password manager if you don’t use one already.
  • Set up multifactor authentication for your accounts whenever possible for an additional layer of security.
  • Delete apps you no longer use.
  • Update any software, including antivirus protection, to make sure you are running the most secure version available.
  • Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to avoid automatic connections.
  • Turn on “Find My [Device Name]” tracking and/or remote wiping options in case it is lost or stolen.
  • Charge your devices before you go.
  • Stay informed of TSA regulations and be sure to check with the State Department’s website for any travel alerts or warnings concerning the specific countries you plan to visit, including any tech restrictions.
  • Clear your devices of any content that may be considered illegal or questionable in other countries, and verify whether the location you are traveling to has restrictions on encrypted digital content.
  • Don’t overlook low-tech solutions:
    • Tape over the camera of your laptop or mobile device for privacy.
    • Use a privacy screen on your laptop to avoid people “shoulder surfing” for personal information.
    • Physically lock your devices and keep them on you whenever possible, or use a hotel safe.
    • Label all devices in case they get left behind!

These guidelines are not foolproof, but security experts say every additional measure taken can help reduce the chances of cybertheft.

(This content was provided by Educause.)

January 2018

0 Commentsby   |  02.08.18  |  Banner, Security

January 2018, By The Numbers

Here are Computing Services’ statistics for January 2018:

  • 204 end-user support requests resolved
  • 89 development and administration issues resolved (ties previous January record)
  • 15 projects-in-progress
  • projects completed
  • projects requested
  • 99.99% average uptime

Can We Make Things Better?

Yes, we can! One of our primary goals this school year is to optimize and enhance.  Here are a few ways that we are making things better:

  • Decreasing Banner form customizations – The Banner 9 upgrade forced us to evaluate the form customizations created over the last 17 years.  We are excited that this effort has resulted in a 75% decrease as we complete the move to Banner 9 this spring.
  • Streamlining Banner job customizations – We implemented an automated process that improves the management of customizations to Banner jobs, which are impacted by almost every Banner upgrade.  Programmers no longer spend time manually reviewing code to find changes.
  • Removing overlapping and unnecessary services – We recently replaced the old Massmail tool with email lists in Google Groups, which academic departments use for emailing their students.

Open Source Solutions Reduce Costs

We have a long history of utilizing open source software for critical services like single sign-on and myACU.  Though open source solutions can be difficult to maintain, we have reaped tremendous value from well-respected solutions that include comparable features to expensive commercial options.  Open source provides a saving to the university since these solutions require no licensing or maintenance costs in exchange for our relatively low operating costs.

Good Cybercitizens Make the Internet a Safer Place

Digital citizenship is an important part of an individual’s online identity and requires everyone to take steps to make the Internet an enjoyable, safe place for everyone. “The Internet is a powerful and useful tool, but in the same way that you shouldn’t drive without buckling your seat belt or ride a bike without a helmet, you shouldn’t venture online without taking some basic precautions.”  Here are some tips to keep in mind as we work together to create a better, safer digital world for ourselves and others.

Password Managers Make Life Easier

Do you know what a password manager is?  Do you know how a password manager makes life easier?  We invite you to join us in the Innovation Foundry on Tuesday, March 6th at noon to hear how a solution called LastPass can make your life easier.  We will share how a non-technical employee embraced LastPass as a means of better managing her personal and professional life.


Good Cybercitizens Make the Internet a Safer and Better Place

0 Commentsby   |  02.01.18  |  Security

“The Internet is a powerful and useful tool, but in the same way that you shouldn’t drive without buckling your seat belt or ride a bike without a helmet, you shouldn’t venture online without taking some basic precautions.” This is an important reminder from the National Cyber Security Alliance that cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility as an individual and a member of our ever-growing online community. Here are some tips to keep in mind as we work together to create a better, safer digital world for ourselves and others.

  • Own your online presence. To keep yourself safe, set privacy and security settings on web services, apps, and devices to your comfort level. You do not have to share everything with everyone. It is your choice to limit what (and with whom) you share personal information.
  • Be a good digital citizen. The things that you would not do in your physical life, do not do in your digital life. If you see crime online, report it the same way that you would in real life. Keep yourself safe and assist in keeping others safe on the Internet.
  • Respect yourself and others. Practice good netiquette, know the law, and do not do things that would cause others harm. The Golden Rule applies online, as well.
  • Practice good communications. Never send an e-mail typed in anger. Put it in your draft folder and wait. Keep in mind that digital communications do not give the reader the same visual or audio cues that speaking in person (or by video or phone) does.
  • Protect yourself and your information. Use complex passwords or passphrases, and don’t reuse the same password or variations of a simple phrase. Better yet, enable two-factor authentication or two-step verification whenever possible.

(This content was provided by Educause.)

December 2017

0 Commentsby   |  01.10.18  |  Banner, Security

2017: A “Banner” Year

Here are noteworthy statistics that tell some of the stories of our exceptional year:

  • 2,127 end-user support requests resolved (209 more than the previous record)
  • 1,089 development and administration issues resolved (139 more than the previous record)
  • 52 projects requested
  • 43 projects completed
  • 7 new services and integrations added
  • services and integrations removed
  • 99.92% average uptime (new record)
  • 286 employees attended Banner 9 information and training sessions
  • 199 Banner updates applied (105 Banner 9 updates)
  • modules live on Banner 9 (two more to come in 2018)
  • presentation proposal accepted for Ellucian 2018 conference in April (“Banner 9: How Green Is The Grass On The Other Side?”)
  • Countless emails, phone calls, meetings, and sidewalk conversations about Banner 9

Are Robots Taking Over the World?

We don’t think it will happen soon, but 2017 saw a rise in powerful technologies, services, and applications in many industries (self-driving cars, virtual assistants like Alexa, chatbots for self-service, machine learning for data analytics, etc.).  We spend time each month exploring topics like automation and artificial intelligence to understand technology trends and how they may intersect with higher education.   Some of the most promising applications assist and enhance humans rather than replace the human altogether.  Our explorations have included a lot of reading, listening, discussion, and experimentation.  We will explore exciting areas like this in 2018 as many of these technologies no longer appear to be the stuff of science fiction or short-term fad. 

Privacy Is Our Shared Responsibility

No matter how you define customers, you and your organization collect their information, and it is up to you to respect and keep their information private.  You don’t need to understand the nuances of every privacy regulation currently affecting higher education to tackle data privacy issues on campus. Whether you are working on a data breach response plan, updating institutional policies, collaborating with researchers on a new project, or educating students, faculty, and staff about data privacy, consider teaming up with your institution’s privacy officer(s). Here are some helpful tips to consider that will help you effectively protect the privacy of students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

More Banner 9 in 2018

We did not hit our original target to have all Administrative Banner modules upgraded to Banner 9 by the end of 2017, but we made significant progress.  Here are highlights of our work in December as well as work coming up:

  • Less Banner 8 – Most Banner 8 forms in General, Finance, Human Resources, Position Control and Student have been disabled.  We have a few remaining Banner 8 forms that are still active due to defects in Banner 9 or dependencies in the modules that remain in Banner 8.
  • Custom forms – We are close to completing migrations for most of the remaining custom-created forms that will live on in Banner 9.  We are removing 60 out of the 80 customizations we have in Banner 8.
  • Updates – We will apply multiple updates to the existing Banner 9 modules in the next month or two, which includes updates to Accounts Receivable, Finance, and Student.
  • Last Banner 9 steps – The first Banner 9 upgrades for Advancement and Financial Aid have been scheduled over the next few months.  We anticipate completion of most updates by the end of March.

December 2017, By The Numbers

Here are Computing Services’ statistics for December 2017:

  • 107 end-user support requests resolved
  • 61 development and administration issues resolved
  • 17 projects-in-progress
  • project completed
  • projects requested
  • 99.96% average uptime

Privacy Is Our Shared Responsibility

0 Commentsby   |  01.01.18  |  Security

Everyone in our community is responsible for the protection of our customers’ privacy and their personal information. However, you don’t need to understand the nuances of every privacy regulation currently affecting higher education to tackle data privacy issues on campus. Whether you are working on a data breach response plan, updating institutional policies, collaborating with researchers on a new project, or educating students, faculty, and staff about data privacy, consider teaming up with your institution’s privacy officer(s).

Know and understand your privacy policies.

  • Most institutions have a standard privacy policy, statement, or notice on their website to help visitors understand the practices related to the collection, use, or disclosure of information. Two examples include Indiana University and the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Additional privacy statements or notices may be included in third-party contracts or services offered to students, faculty, and staff (e.g., learning management systems used for classes).
  • Also consider any third-party privacy policies or terms and conditions you may have agreed to as an individual (e.g., Facebook or any other third-party services or apps that aren’t officially hosted by the institution through a signed contract).

Always start with privacy.

  • Include privacy in the planning phase of all new projects.
  • If you don’t need personal information, don’t collect it. You can always ask for more information later.
  • Inform your customers about why you’re collecting their personal information.

Keep and use data securely.

  • Keep personal information confidential and limit access to the data.
  • Make sure you’re only using the data the way you said you’d use it. Ensure you get the customer’s consent before you use it otherwise.
  • Destroy or deidentify private information when you no longer need it.
  • Know your data breach response plan.

(This content was provided by Educause.)

November 2017

0 Commentsby   |  12.06.17  |  Banner

Preparing Students For Technology Careers

Information Technology provides students with real-world experience that prepares them for technology careers.  Our students power the Helpdesk and Team55, provide network and telephone support, and participate in significant programming projects.  Student programmers in Computing Services have played a key role in projects for ACU Blogs, Adobe Creative Cloud, Banner, and myACU.  Two December graduates that work in IT, Alicia Clark and Travis Cook, are highlighted in a recent School of Information Technology and Computing (SITC) blog post.  Graduates who worked in Information Technology have gone on to successful careers for companies such as RackSpace and USAA.

Your Mobile Devices Won’t Secure Themselves!

Mobile devices are everywhere — pockets, purses, nightstands, cars — and so are the security threats related to their use. Add to that the use of home networks, cloud backups, and the Internet of Things, and the risk escalates! Here are a few things you can do to protect your devices and personal information on campus, at home, or at work.

Banner 9 Project Updates

Here are highlights of our work in November as well as next steps:

  • We turned off access to most Banner Student 8 forms in mid-November.
  • Our programmers converted and deployed five custom forms to Banner 9 that support chapel and judicial affairs functions in Student Life.
  • Ellucian consulting services delivered the first release for six custom forms that they are converting for us.  We will test the forms and work towards completion of the project in early 2018.
  • We started work on updates to existing Banner 9 modules (Accounts Receivable, Finance, Financial Aid, and Student), which we plan to complete by early 2018.
  • Banner Advancement 9 has been installed in a test environment so that Advancement team can complete initial testing.

By The Numbers

Here are Computing Services’ statistics for November 2017:

  • 118 end-user support requests resolved
  • 71 development and administration issues resolved
  • 14 projects-in-progress
  • project completed
  • projects requested
  • 99.98% average uptime

Your Mobile Devices Won’t Secure Themselves!

0 Commentsby   |  12.01.17  |  Security

Mobile security at one time meant using a laptop lock and keeping tabs on your phone. However, the growing capabilities and use of mobile devices — coupled with the ubiquity of smart devices stitched into the very fabric of our daily lives (figuratively and literally) — now require a more sophisticated defense-in-depth approach to match the growing threat. Following are a few things you can do to protect your devices and personal information on campus, at home, or at work.

  • Secure your devices with a strong password, pattern, or biometric authentication. Check the settings for each device to enable a screen-lock option. For home routers, reset the default password with a strong one.
  • Install anti-malware. Some software includes features that let you do automatic backups and track your device.
  • Check your Bluetooth and GPS access. Disable these settings on all devices when not needed and avoid using them in public areas.
  • Update your devices often. Install operating system and application updates when they become available.
  • Review phone apps regularly. Remove any apps you don’t use. Be selective when buying or installing new apps. Install only those from trusted sources and avoid any that ask for unnecessary access to your personal information.
  • Treat devices like cash! Don’t let your devices out of your sight or grasp. Maintain physical control of your device in public areas. Get a lock (alarmed is best) for your laptop and use it.
  • Keep it sunny in the cloud. Whether using Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, iCloud, Amazon Drive, or any of the many cloud options, set privacy restrictions on your files to share them only with those you intend. Protect access to your cloud drive with two-factor authentication.
  • Create a secure wireless network. Configure your wireless router to protect your bandwidth, identifiable information, and personal computer. Secure it with proper setup and placement, router configuration, and a unique password, using the strongest encryption option. See http://www.wi-fi.org/ for more tips.
  • Protect your Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Are you sharing your live streaming nanny cam with the world? Review privacy settings for all Internet-ready devices before connecting them to the web.

(This content was provided by Educause.)

October 2017

0 Commentsby   |  11.07.17  |  Banner, Security

By The Numbers

Here are Computing Services’ statistics for October 2017:

  • 169 end-user support requests resolved (new record for October)
  • 89 development and administration issues resolved
  • 11 projects-in-progress
  • project completed
  • projects requested
  • 99.99% average uptime

Are You Prepared?

Information Technology provides cybersecurity awareness training for faculty and staff. This training consists of three modules that each take approximately 15 minutes to complete: “Email Security,” “Safe Social Networks,” and “URL Training.” Employees can access the training through the “Cyber Security Training” quicklink in myACU.


Banner 9 Project Updates

We are among a small percentage of schools that have made significant progress with the Banner 9 implementation.  Here are highlights of our work in the last month:

  • We installed updates to many of the existing Banner 9 components to address known issues and introduce improvements.
  • We kicked off a project with Ellucian to help us migrate some of our custom forms while our programming team addresses some of this as well.  We will reduce our custom form count by almost 75%.
  • We turned off access to most Banner 8 forms for Human Resources and Position Control.  We will disable most Banner Student 8 forms next week.

Career Paths In Cybersecurity

The cybersecurity field continues to grow along with the need for new workforce talent. In fact, the 2016 EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research’s study on the higher education IT workforce showed that cybersecurity management skillsets are among those most in demand in higher education today.  Here are some ways to spread the word about potential career paths and internship opportunities that can provide vital hands-on experience as these students get ready to join the workforce.

How Higher Ed Can Support Cybersecurity Students

0 Commentsby   |  11.01.17  |  Security

The cybersecurity field continues to grow along with the need for new workforce talent. In fact, the 2016 EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research’s study on the higher education IT workforce showed that cybersecurity management skill sets are among those most in demand in higher education today. Most information security jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree, so the knowledge students acquire through degree programs is critical. At the same time, students should be encouraged to seek additional opportunities for professional development and growth, including the following:

  • Campus internships. Consider hiring student interns to assist in your institution’s information security department. Interns can offer the department additional staffing resources, and department staff can offer interns real-world experiences and the chance to develop mentoring relationships. For suggested qualifications and responsibilities, see the Information Security Intern Job Description Template.
  • Cyber competitions. Institutions with an information assurance or computer security curriculum can participate in regional events hosted by the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. These events give students the chance to hone their practical information security skills, as well as experience working in teams.
  • Scholarships. Full-time students pursuing a bachelor or master’s degree in a formal cybersecurity program at colleges and universities selected by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are eligible to receive scholarship grants. In exchange, scholarship recipients will be placed in an internship; they will also be offered a full-time cybersecurity position after graduation with a federal agency (or other organization approved by the National Science Foundation).
  • Conferences. Students can take advantage of a plethora of information security conferences held each year. Among them is the Women in Cybersecurity conference, which seeks to recruit, retain, and advance women in cybersecurity. This annual conference brings together students and women in cybersecurity from various industries for knowledge sharing, mentoring, and networking.
  • Job fairs. Likewise, students can choose from among numerous job fairs, including the following. DHS hosted its first Cyber and Tech Job Fair in July 2016. The U.S. Department of State maintains a list of job fair websites, including some that require a security clearance. The SANS Institute hosts a CyberTalent Fair — a virtual event for anyone seeking career or job opportunities in cybersecurity. Many campuses also host IT and cybersecurity job fairs, offering advice to students about certifications and connecting graduates or alumni with potential employers.
  • Training courses. The DHS National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS) Training Catalog includes more than 2,000 cybersecurity training courses offered in the US. A handy interactive map quickly shows viewers the number of courses offered in specific locations. Users can also search for training opportunities by keyword, location, specialty area, provider, proficiency level, and delivery method.
  • Student associations. The National Cybersecurity Student Association requires a small membership fee, but allows students to network with local and state chapters; learn about opportunities for scholarship, internship, and mentoring; and develop technical and leadership skills as they prepare for the cybersecurity workforce.

(This content was provided by Educause.)