IRT Technology Update
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
01. Tech Alert: New Malware Threat
02. New Exchange Service
03. Microsoft Releases Windows 7 Beta
04. Top Computer Security Threats: Spam and Malware
Tips & Tricks
News & Notes from the Online Learning Team
13. Winter Term Classes Closing Soon in Bb Vista
14. Only Two Weeks Left to Register for the E-Learning 2.0 Conference!
15. StudyMate Class Server Now Available in Bb Vista
16. Training Sessions for March
Recently, a new malware threat hit the scene. This new malware package, its name composed of Asian characters, can wreak enough havoc on a computer that, sometimes, reformatting is the only option. Just like most viruses and malware packages, infections can be spread from computer to computer and can damage registry files, take remote control of a computer, or steal personal information.
This malware package can spread between computers, from computers to USB keys, and from USB keys to computers. USB keys, also known as flash drives or thumb drives, are small, portable devices with limited storage capacity. Since they function as mini hard drives, they are just as susceptible to viruses and malware as computers themselves. A virus on a USB key can therefore spread to multiple computers like a plague-carrier spreads disease to healthy individuals—it only has to be plugged into the computer. Currently, scanners such as Symantec and Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware application (http://www.malwarebytes.org) can scan for this virus.
If an infected USB key is plugged into another computer, the virus spreads through the autorun or autoplay feature. To prevent infection, users can disable the autorun or autoplay feature if the computer's operating system allows it. IRT also recommends that users regularly scan their computers as well as their USB keys. If USB keys are not scanned, users run the risk of reinfecting an otherwise clean computer—every time the infected USB key is plugged into the computer.
If your computer becomes infected with this virus, bring it to the Korman Front Desk if possible. Alternatively, or for more information on how to prevent infection, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 215-895-2020.
IRT has upgraded its Microsoft Exchange service, which offers users the ability to share calendars, contact lists, and even email, to version 2007. This version includes larger mailboxes, easier off-campus access, an enhanced interface for Outlook Web Access (OWA), and new features for users with compatible smartphones. Drexel faculty and staff are eligible for Exchange email accounts upon request. Exchange email accounts are displayed in the Global Address List, which contains active Exchange users with a mailbox at Drexel and eliminates the need for users to search a directory for colleagues’ email addresses.
Once the upgrade to Exchange 2007 is complete, Exchange users will have access to an improved Web interface and a feature called "Outlook Anywhere." This new feature allows users to access mail through the Outlook email client outside of the campus network—a VPN is not required.
Answers for many of the frequently asked questions about Exchange services are published in AskDrexel at http://ask.drexel.edu. Search for the keywords “Outlook,” “Exchange,” or “OWA.”
For assistance, send an email to email@example.com to contact IRT’s support team. You can also call the IRT Help Desk at 215-895-2020.
In January 2009, Microsoft released the long-awaited beta for Windows 7. This new version of Windows, the successor to Windows Vista, will address the power consumption and reliability issues that plagued Vista and will offer a sleeker, better-performing, redesigned operating system. Though Windows 7 beta is no longer available for download, users and IT professionals who have downloaded it, use it at their own discretion. IRT does not support this beta and discourages users from installing it on Drexel computers. Across campus, IT professionals and lab managers are discussing and testing the Windows 7 beta in preparation for the official release of the operating system tentatively scheduled for later in 2009. Users who have installed the Windows 7 beta on their personal computers and have feedback to share should inform their departmental IT professionals or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
While software updates and virus protection applications can greatly increase protection from threats such as hackers, viruses, malware, thieves, email scams, and more, users are ultimately responsible for ensuring the security of their computing environment. The following article, the third in a series of three, summarizes threats to computer security from spam, phishing scams, malware, trojans, and peer-to-peer (P2P) software.
More information about these threats can be found in the Chronicle of Higher Education at http://chronicle.com/free/v55/i17/17a00901.htm in an article entitled “Top 10 Threats to Computer Systems Include Professors and Students” by Jeffrey R. Young.
For more information about computer security threats, search for “security,” “malware,” “spyware,” or “viruses” at http://ask.drexel.edu. You can also call the IRT Help Desk at 215-895-2020 or email email@example.com.
Spam and Email Scams
Spam filters do a good job of blocking unwanted email, but spammers are keeping pace with improving methods of spam detection and deletion. College communities are particularly prone to spammers, who have been known to hijack college email accounts to send out massive amounts of spam, thereby slowing down the network significantly.
One of the more potentially damaging forms of spam is known as phishing. Phishers try to trick users into providing their account logins and passwords by appearing as a legitimate entity. Often, phishers pose as a student’s college or email provider, while others pose as a user’s bank. Others use poor grammar and spelling and are quite easy to spot, but with increasing detection, phishers are evolving more sophisticated schemes. Legitimate organizations NEVER ask their clients or customers for login information through email; therefore, sensitive information such as logins and passwords should NEVER be sent via email, even if the requester appears to be legitimate.
Other scams fashion a bogus story involving lotteries or millions of dollars in Nigeria in order to trick users into providing a bank account number. The rule of thumb for lottery or contest scams is if you didn’t enter it, you didn’t win it. Bank account numbers should NEVER be provided through email, especially NOT to an unfamiliar person in a foreign country, no matter what you are told.
Malware/Greyware, Trojans, and P2P Software
The Internet is littered with undesirable downloads and malicious code, also known as malware and trojans. When you visit infected sites, spyware (including site cookies) is installed on your computer. Spyware can contain keyloggers, which track your keystrokes, surfing habits, mouse clicks, and more. Trojans can infect a computer, delete important registry or system files, and generally cause havoc on your computer. Peer-to-peer (P2P) software, in addition to distributing illegal copies of media and presenting other security risks, is bloated with malware and trojans that piggy-back on “legitimate”-looking downloads. Even if the program advertises that it is spyware-free, there is absolutely no guarantee that it truly is.
Greyware is an even trickier issue. The term “greyware” describes applications that have legitimate uses but include questionable “extras”—that is, they occupy the gray area between outright maliciousness and legitimate usefulness. An informative article about grayware can be found at Ars Technica at http://arstechnica.com/security/news/2008/04/detecting-and-fighting-greyware.ars.
Good, free programs for malware and spyware removal, in addition to antivirus protection and a firewall, include Spybot - Search & Destroy (http://www.safer-networking.org/index2.html) and Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware (http://www.lavasoft.com). Both applications can be used together. To keep your computer safe, remember to only download files from sites you trust, and scan your computer regularly to help prevent infection.
Tips & Tricks
Tips & Tricks are helpful articles that address a variety of Windows and Mac applications. Click on one of the links below:
Using Windows Vista’s Address Bar to Navigate
Split the Screen in Word and Excel 2007
PowerPoint 2007: Insert a Chart
Use Table Styles in Word 2007
Customize Slide Layout in PowerPoint 2007
Adding a Content Link to a Bb Vista Calendar Entry
Add Scrolling Text to Your Bb Vista Header or Footer
Printing and Saving GradeMarked Comments for Turnitin Assignments
By default, courses in Blackboard Vista open on the first day of the term at midnight and close on the last day of the term at midnight. Students will no longer be able to access courses for the 2009 Winter quarter (200825) as of Saturday, March 21 at 11:59 pm. For those instructors who want to extend student access to their course(s), please follow the instructions contained in the link below:
Settings for current-term courses might be reset during system integration. Therefore, instructors should check their course settings from time to time.
For the upcoming Spring quarter, students will be able to access Spring courses on Monday, March 30 at 12:01 am. To open courses early, instructors should refer to the instructions in the above link.
For any questions or concerns, contact the Online Learning Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 215-895-1224.
Register today for the e-Learning 2.0 Conference! This annual conference, to be held on Thursday, March 26, 2009 in Behrakis Grand Hall at the Creese Student Center, draws more than 160 participants from over 40 institutions all around the region!
To register, visit the conference Web site at http://www.drexel.edu/irt/eLearningConf2009/index.html. A nominal registration fee for Drexel participants includes welcome materials, access to the presentations and keynote speaker sessions, a continental breakfast, lunch, afternoon refreshments, and a door prize drawing at the conclusion of the event (winners must be present).
Past conferences have included presentations on leveraging existing and emerging technologies to enhance instruction in face-to-face classes, hybrid Web-enhanced classes, and completely online, Web-delivered classes. This year’s featured keynote speaker will be John Fritz, Assistant Vice President for Instructional Technology & New Media at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Fritz will discuss "How and Why to Shine Light on Effective Technology Usage" during the lunchtime session.
Don’t miss out on what promises to be a fantastic learning and networking opportunity! Email email@example.com with any questions.
Respondus StudyMate Class Server is an add-in tool in Bb Vista that creates Flash-based activities, including flash cards, quizzes, and games similar to Hangman and Jeopardy. Instructors can supply the questions that are used in these activities, or allow students to create and edit their own questions. Instructors can also choose to allow students to edit each other’s contributions. Student participation is tracked and can be graded. Grades flow automatically into the Bb Vista grade book.
To create a StudyMate instance in a Bb Vista section(s):
1. Go to the Build tab and click “Add Content Link.”
2. Select “StudyMate” and click “Create StudyMate.”
3. On the next screen, enter a title and click “Configure StudyMate Instance.”
4. Select the level of editing rights and click “Create StudyMate Class Server Instance.”
5. Finally, switch to the Teach tab and click on the StudyMate link that was just created to begin adding questions.
A Brown Bag session on StudyMate Class Server will be offered in the coming months; stay tuned for details.
The following events are being offered this month in Korman 116:
- Brown Bag Lunch – "Best Practices for PC Maintenance" - Tuesday, March 10, from noon to 1 p.m.
- Dreamweaver Basic - Wednesday, March 18, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Impatica - Thursday, March 19, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
- Camtasia Basic - Thursday, March 19, 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
- Snap Basic - Thursday, March 19, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
- Bb Vista Full-Day Workshop - Tuesday, March 31, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
To register for these events, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit http://www.drexel.edu/irt/services/workshops.