May 2018

0 Commentsby   |  06.06.18  |  Uncategorized

May 2018, By The Numbers

Here are Computing Services’ statistics for May 2018:

  • 161 end-user support requests resolved
  • 86 development and administration issues resolved
  • 12 projects-in-progress
  • project completed (includes go-live of Blue course evaluation system)
  • project requested
  • 99.95% average uptime

Fiscal Year 2018 – The Rise of Integrations

We maintain a service portfolio of 135 services that power critical functions for the university.  We implemented 14 new services and removed 12 services during fiscal year 2018 (June 2017 through May 2018).    All 14 new services are data integrations with services like Banner and single sign-on, which follows a multi-year trend where most new projects involve integration work.  Seven of the new integrations improve the student experience, including AcademicWorks and CampusLogic for financial aid and Adirondack for on-campus housing management.

Professional Development Never Stops

The information technology industry requires us to consistently explore new technologies and gain expertise so that we adequately support the campus and remain relevant.  Every year we set learning goals to address this, which are attained by attending conferences, reading books and trade publications, and taking online courses from platforms like Coursera and Udemy.  We also participate in team activities to explore emerging technologies and discuss ways these technologies could benefit the campus.  Along the way, we gain knowledge, skills, and have fun.

Beef Up Your Physical Security

With the threat of hacking, malware, phishing, and other digital threats constantly looming, it can be easy to overlook the importance of physical security best practices.  Employing good physical security practices does not have to include hiring a detachment of the queen’s guard (though this might be an excellent attraction for prospective students!).  Here are a few basic physical security tips that can substantially improve the institution’s security risk profile.

Beef Up Your Physical Security

0 Commentsby   |  06.05.18  |  Security

Employing good physical security practices does not have to include hiring a detachment of the queen’s guard for your campus (though this might be a nice attraction for prospective students!). Instead, just getting the word out to your community about the importance of a few basic physical security tips can substantially improve your institution’s security risk profile. Below are some tips to share with your community:

  • Prevent tailgating. In the physical security world, tailgating is when an unauthorized person follows someone into a restricted space. Be aware of anyone attempting to slip in behind you when entering an area with restricted access.
  • Don’t offer piggyback rides. Like tailgating, piggybacking refers to an unauthorized person attempting to gain access to a restricted area by using social engineering techniques to convince the person with access to let them in. Confront unfamiliar faces! If you’re uncomfortable confronting them, contact campus safety.
  • Put that shredder to work! Make sure to shred documents with any personal, medical, financial, or other sensitive data before throwing away. Organizing campus-wide or smaller-scale shred days can be a fun way to motivate your community to properly dispose of paper waste.
  • Be smart about recycling or disposing of old computers and mobile devices. Make sure to properly destroy your computer’s hard drive. Use the factory reset option on your mobile devices and erase or remove SIM and SD cards.
  • Lock your devices. Protecting your mobile devices and computers with a strong password or PIN provides an additional layer of protection to your data in the event of theft. Set your devices to lock after a short period of inactivity; lock your computer whenever you walk away. If possible, take your mobile devices and/or laptop with you. Don’t leave them unattended, even for a minute!
  • Lock those doors and drawers. Stepping out of the room? Make sure you lock any drawers containing sensitive information and/or devices and lock the door behind you.
  • Encrypt sensitive information. Add an additional layer of protection to your files by using the built-in encryption tools included on your computer’s operating system (e.g., BitLocker or FileVault).
  • Back up, back up, back up! Keeping only one copy of important files, especially on a location such as your computer’s hard drive, is a disaster waiting to happen. Make sure your files will still be accessible in case they’re stolen or lost by backing them up on a regular basis to multiple secure storage solutions.
  • Don’t leave sensitive data in plain sight. Keeping sensitive documents or removable storage media on your desk, passwords taped to your monitor, or other sensitive information in visible locations puts the data at risk to be stolen by those who would do you or your institution harm. Keep it securely locked in your drawer when not in use.
  • Put the laptop in your trunk. Need to leave your laptop or other devices in your car? Lock it in your trunk (before arriving at your destination). Don’t invite criminals to break your car windows by leaving it on the seat.
  • Install a remote location tracking app on your mobile device and laptop. If your smartphone, tablet, or laptop is lost or stolen, applications such as Find My iPhone/iPad/Mac or Find My Device (Android) can help you to locate your devices or remotely lock and wipe them.

(This content was provided by Educause.)

April 2018

0 Commentsby   |  05.08.18  |  Uncategorized

April 2018, By The Numbers

Here are Computing Services’ statistics for April 2018:

  • 118 end-user support requests resolved
  • 65 development and administration issues resolved
  • 13 projects-in-progress
  • project completed (custom Banner form conversions)
  • project requested
  • 99.99% average uptime

Did You Know?

Computing Services personnel have an average of 17 years of service in the information technology industry and an average of 10 years of service to ACU.  Our highly-skilled team creates, installs, maintains and supports a dynamic service portfolio that includes a diverse set of technologies and vendors.  We are proud of our ability to attract and retain talented people who believe in ACU’s mission to educate students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world.

Use Strong Passwords and Passphrases

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes out there, and it can take a lot of time, effort, and money to recover from this sort of crime.  Your passwords are the key to a host of information about you, and potentially those close to you. If someone can access your personal information, it can have serious long-term effects—and not just online!  Follow these recommendations to protect your identity while making the Internet more secure for everyone.

Use Strong Passwords and Passphrases to Lock Down Your Login!

0 Commentsby   |  05.01.18  |  Security

Your passwords are the key to a host of information about you, and potentially those close to you. If someone can access your personal information, it can have serious long-term effects—and not just online! Follow these recommendations from the World Password Day website to protect your identity while making the Internet more secure for everyone:

  • Use a passphrase instead of a password. Passphrases are usually 16 characters or more and include a combination of words or short sentence that is easy to remember (e.g., MaryHadALittleLamb!)
  • Use a fingerprint or biometric requirement to sign in when available. This provides an extra layer of protection for devices and apps.
  • Request single-use authentication codes that can be sent to your phone or delivered by an app.
  • Take advantage of whatever multifactor authentication methods are available for your service. Learn more about adding MFA to any account.
  • Use a password manager or password vault software to help keep track of all your passwords and avoid password reuse.

(This content was provided by Educause.)

March 2018

0 Commentsby   |  04.13.18  |  Uncategorized

March 2018, By The Numbers

Here are Computing Services’ statistics for March 2018:

  • 114 end-user support requests resolved
  • 91 development and administration issues resolved
  • 14 projects-in-progress
  • projects completed (includes significant projects, such as the Universal Cancellation Process and Banner Student Registration 9)
  • projects requested
  • 99.98% average uptime

Lead Every Day

Our professional development theme this school year is to “lead every day.”  The theme centers around the idea that leadership is based on influence rather than position or title.  We have challenged each other to be intentional about the way we use our influence to help others, share expertise, and guide people to decisions.  If you have an opportunity, please ask our team members how they are leading.

Spring Cleaning—Be Green, Not Blue

Recycled or donated computers containing the confidential information of the prior owner continue to be a source of embarrassment or identity theft. Many still believe that dragging a file to the recycle bin removes the data from the machine, or that all computer drives write and overwrite data in the same way. Here are some steps you can take to remove anxiety later that forgotten sensitive files on your last laptop could become a source of embarrassment or identity theft.


Spring Cleaning—Be Green, Not Blue

0 Commentsby   |  04.02.18  |  Security

As you upgrade your personal devices to the newest options, do you recycle the old equipment? Being green shouldn’t make you blue. Take steps now to remove anxiety later that forgotten sensitive files on your last laptop could become a source of embarrassment or identity theft. Trying to securely delete data at the time you decommission equipment can turn into a multi-hour chore and a source of stress, but it doesn’t need to be that way.

Make sure saved copies of your tax filings, personal photos, and other sensitive files can’t be retrieved by the next person with access to your computer’s drive by making the drive unreadable to anyone else. Dragging files to the trash or recycle bin doesn’t remove data—it just removes the retrieval path to the file and marks that storage space available for other data to occupy sometime in the future. Your pirate treasure is still buried, but the map is missing. “Secure file deletion” functions go a step further to overwrite the data in those locations with random bits immediately.

The introduction and growth of solid-state drives in consumer electronics, however, make overwriting the data in these spaces less dependable than in the standard hard drives of the past. Today’s “delete/overwrite” protection comes most reliably from full disk encryption (aka whole disk encryption), which encrypts all data on the machine—including the operating system and temporary files you weren’t even aware you created. Follow the motto of a famous infomercial to “set it [full disk encryption] and forget it [the password/key]!” Even if someone removes the drive and puts it into a different machine, the encryption remains in place.

  • Plan A: Encrypt the full disk now using built-in functionality. Create a strong passphrase or password, since this becomes the decryption key! Everything will be encrypted, including the operating system so you will have to “unlock” the encrypted drive with your personal passphrase every time you start or boot up your computer. Save the generated recovery key somewhere secure (like a password manager or printout stored in a secure office), in case you forget your password and need to access the data on that machine. Here are instructions for some of the most common built-in encryption functions:
  • Plan B: If full disk encryption wasn’t a built-in option, find a free or fee version of full disk encryption software that works with your operating system and personal capability. Check your favorite review sites or try Slant for recommendations.
  • Failsafe: Hammer time! Remove and destroy the drive (Geek Squad offers a three-minute tutorial on hard drive disposal). Most retail stores that accept computer donations for safe recycling will remove the drive and give it to you for secure destruction—just ask them to do that. Smash it, drill it, or hold onto the drive until there’s a secure shredding event at work or in your community.

(This content was provided by Educause.)

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.)