Ag IT Matters

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  • Securing My Computer


June 4, 2019

Microsoft introduced the Windows 7 operating system in 2009. After ten years of dedicated service, Microsoft has announced its retirement date of December 31, 2019. Those of us who toil for Penn State usually need more than ten years before retirement – it must be nice to be a part of Microsoft!

June 4, 2019

Pennsylvania is a great state for fishing! There is fishing for steelhead in Erie, and fishing for compliments and votes in Harrisburg. Muskie are found in Raystown Lake, and tuna can be found even in small communities. The other activity – phishing – is also prevalent in Pennsylvania, especially at Penn State – and it has hazards all its own!

December 7, 2018

Ag IT, just like all of you, has routine work to do every day, every week, and every year. And, just like you, we also tackle bigger projects. Some are year-long, and others are multi-year. We just finished the Office 365 migration project, and we’ve been casting about for our next big project since we know that idle hands are the Devil’s playground, and we don’t want to draw the Devil’s attention to us!

December 7, 2018

I need advice! I have this email that wants me to ‘Click here to…..’ and it says it is URGENT!! “Ix-nay!” - Curly Howard, 1936 “Just Say No.” – Nancy Reagan, 1986 "No, no, no. Just....No." - Ag IT Staff, 2018

December 11, 2017

If you wander around the halls of Ag IT, you will often hear our staff talking on the phone referring to the Thumbprint Page. “Use this password anytime the thumbprint page pops up,” or “Use the same password that you would for the thumbprint page!” Next month, Penn State will launch a redesign of the Thumbprint page, more correctly known as the WebAccess page.

December 11, 2017

Everybody likes “Pop” things … PopTarts; pop (a beverage found in western PA only); popcorn; Pop-Pop (the Grandfather); Snap, Crackle, Pop, and, as we approach New Year’s Eve, some might enjoy the pop of the Champagne bottle. We hope that you will also like the new way we’ll be sending some important messages….a ‘pop up’ window, front and center on your screen.

June 15, 2017

You work hard all week. We see it, we know it. We read about how hard you work on Facebook. You catch a rest and a recharge overnight, and a better recovery period over the weekend. We see that on Facebook, too. And then, after the rest and recharge, you are back at it… Your computer would benefit from this same routine that works for you!

June 15, 2017

Some visitors to the front door do not earn enough of your confidence to open the door and let them sit at your kitchen table. There are other circumstances when this same caution is a good idea, too.

March 17, 2017

A new look and a new name – with the same purpose and the same function. You may have called it Identity Finder, or you may have called it the Blue Dog software – we’re told that some people have called it other things, too. Now it is known as Spirion!

March 17, 2017

The Barracuda fish is a fearsome and ferocious fish, patrolling the seas in search of prey <confirmed by Wikipedia and not disputed by Snopes>. The Barracuda spam filter is a fearsome and ferocious service that patrols the College of Ag email system in search of spam messages. A recent upgrade has changed what you see in your spam reports!

December 9, 2016

The holiday season brings much joy to many of us, but it also brings abundant opportunities for scoundrels, rascals, thieves and assorted ne’er do-wells. A generous dollop of caution mixed with your cider will help you enjoy the holidays and the next few months without the headache of a compromised credit card or computer account.

September 14, 2016

Ransom is a frightening word – someone takes something of value from you and demands money to return it. Now it is possible for an extortionist to lock up your files until such time as you pay them to let you have the key to unlock them again. With caution you can avoid this possibility, and with pre-planning you can mitigate the need to pay the hijackers if they do encrypt your files.

July 26, 2016

Just as the fisherman is constantly at work to discover what bait will work to hook the fish he’s after, the unethical cyber-anglers are trying to find out which bait will trick you into revealing your password, your credit card or maybe your banking information. Protect yourself and Penn State; protect your family and your finances by exercising great caution when you get any email that is going to involve private information!

April 13, 2016

Country music of the 1950’s and 60’s usually involved a lost dog and/or a girlfriend’s heart being stolen away by another. At Penn State in the 2016’s sometimes people in the college find that their computer has been lost, or their tablet has been stolen away by another. There are steps to take, and none involve a guitar and songwriting!

December 15, 2015

You may have already heard of Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), or it may be a new term and practice for you. Day by day the use of 2FA is growing at Penn State, but what is it? What value is it to you and to Penn State? How does it work?

October 15, 2015

It is time! It is time to add complexity to your passwords and to simplify your password management! It is time to make bizarre passwords of absurd lengths – and it is time to give up memorizing bizarre passwords of absurd lengths!

October 15, 2015

Almost anyone with a chest freezer will admit that there are items lost at the bottom from several years ago that should be found and thrown out before they cause problems. The same is true with the dead batteries at the back of the kitchen junk drawer. And, not surprisingly since this is an IT newsletter, there is a good chance that Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is lost and forgotten inside your computer files and it is time to go digging to find it and throw it out before it causes us problems.

June 30, 2015

Worst. Passwords. Ever. Or at least in 2014. Splash Data, a leading provider of security applications and services compiles an annual list of worst passwords. While Penn State password security policies would forbid these worst passwords maybe it is time to review and maybe reset your password.

June 30, 2015

In the simple children’s card game one opponent asks, “Got any threes,” and the reply when having no threes is, “Go Fish!” In the complex adult cybercrime world the opponent asks, “Got any Security Information?” and the reply is “Go Phish!”

June 30, 2015

If you are using the College’s Exchange email system then you are benefiting from the College’s Barracuda system. Like a barracuda fish patrolling the harbor looking for its next meal, the Barracuda Firewall constantly patrols incoming e-mail looking for spam and phishing attempts.

March 17, 2015

Scanning for personally identifiable information (PII) and removing it when found avoids embarrassment and expense and it also happens to keep you within university policy and guidelines!

October 23, 2014

A newly-discovered flaw in old website security technology – a flaw commonly known as Poodle – has caused Ag IT and thousands of other web site hosts to tighten web security to keep the poodle out. Since we’ve changed the lock on the door you may need a new key to get in!

December 13, 2013

There are entire industries dedicated to compromising the security of your computer and its data. Some want your identity, others want your credit cards, a few may want your research, still others want to use your computer for illicit purposes and some seem to be just plain mean. While Penn State and the College of Ag have instituted many safeguards to protect you and the University, the threat remains high and sometimes a computer does become compromised.

June 3, 2013

An updated version of the Identify Finder (IDF) software is now available. Version 6.3.1 will provide significant scanning enhancements and allow for more thorough searching for personally identifiable information (PII). This version of IDF will scan additional types of documents and will utilize Optical Character Recognition (OCR) for scanning. All county Extension and research center computers will be updated with the newest version of IDF beginning the week of June 11th.

March 19, 2013

Recent changes to password complexity rules will require you to take extra care when selecting College of Ag and PSU user account passwords.

February 27, 2013

In the past, computers set up for use in the College were configured so that the primary users were machine administrators. As administrators, users could install their own programs and make system-wide changes. Unfortunately, the increased threat of computers becoming compromised by malware (malicious software), has required us to make changes to the way users operate their computers and necessitated the implementation of a User Least Privilege model.

February 1, 2013

In early February, Identity Finder (IDF) will automatically be scheduled to run scans on all computers in County Offices and Research Centers. You will no longer be required to create schedules or reminders to manually scan your computer.

December 10, 2012

Security Operations and Services (SOS) plans to release version 6.2 of Identity Finder (IDF) in mid-December. This release will fix many of the glitches that we have experienced with the previous version. In preparation for the new IDF version, Ag IT will be implementing changes to the way the software functions, to make it run more smoothly in our environment. For more information on the changes Ag IT is implementing to help with IDF scanning, continue reading.

December 7, 2012

In January, Security Operations and Services (SOS) will release version 6.2 of Identity Finder. This version performs a more comprehensive scan of computers, to ensure machines are free of Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Due to the changes in what and how documents are scanned, scans may take significantly longer than with the previous version. For more information on the changes Ag IT is implementing to help ease this transition, continue reading.

December 7, 2012

In January, Ag IT will begin notifying users by email when their Ag Account password is about to expire. Users will be notified 30 days before their password will expire, again at 15 days before password expiration and then daily when the account is 7 days or less before password expiration.