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July 2015 Follow us on Twitter
 
Collaboration - We All Win

As we have noted in various Inside Iowa State articles, media interviews, and campus discussions, there is a new wave of collaboration sweeping our technology landscape. We are also enjoying new collaborations in our business processes to ensure ISU meets the intent of our TIER (Transparent Inclusive Efficiency Review) initiatives.

 

Collaborative purchasing is one of the easiest ways for ISU to save money and ensure we keep our required state funding, tuition, and fees to the absolute minimum amount required to offer our world-class education, conduct state of the art research, and provide services to our citizens. Departments and business units are being asked to work together when purchasing technology and software. By working together, we can create economies of scale to save significantly on new equipment purchases.

 

Colleges and universities that have already undertaken similar initiatives are seeing a reduction of 30 to 50 percent in software and equipment cost. This means more funding is available for research, graduate students, and undergraduate support. Please embrace our initiatives in collaboration when your dean or any college administrator reaches out to you and solicits your participation in our TIER purchasing initiative.


As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions,

 

Jim Kurtenbach

jmk@iastate.edu 

Information Security 

Better Passwords and Fewer to Remember...  

Passwords to the dozens of web sites where you have accounts are among the many things you have to remember from day to day. You could reduce the number of passwords you have to remember by using a password manager. 

  

Password managers are applications that organize and store passwords so you only have to remember a single master password to unlock access to all of your accounts. Password managers can help you create strong, unique passwords for all your accounts.

 

There are many popular password managers on the market today, most of which have a free version and span multiple operating systems like Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. This Inside Iowa State story from earlier this year offers a few suggestions.   

  

...But Stay Vigilant   

LastPass, one popular password manager, reported that some of its data had been compromised, including user email addresses, password reminders, and authentication hashes. The hashes let the LastPass system know that a particular user is authorized to access his or her account.

  

It is important to note that the stolen data does not include passwords users had stored in LastPass or even the master password itself; this information is encrypted. However, LastPass is urging its users to change their master passwords, as well as passwords to any other sites where they used the same password.

 

LastPass users should also activate multifactor authentication (MFA) as a measure of added security. The LastPass MFA page details how MFA works and includes links to other popular services that offer it. Users should activate MFA on their personal accounts whenever possible.

 

ISU IT staff are working to expand the use of MFA to make ISU's systems more secure. Read below for more information.

Laptop Encryption Update 

You may have seen last month's Inside Iowa State story about laptop encryption and how it works. Encrypting laptops is a fast, simple, non-invasive solution to protect your personal data and our ISU data. Your assistance will keep us on track to meet the goals laid out in the university's six-point plan and ensures that ISU complies with the state auditor finding which considers laptops part of our internal control system that must be encrypted and protected.

 

The best part: after the few minutes it takes to encrypt the laptop, there is no ongoing impact to you as a laptop user.

 

IT staff members around campus have been making great progress toward meeting our goal of having all university-owned laptops encrypted by 31 December 2015. We appreciate your help in sharing this message with your respective teams and departments. When IT staff members reach out, please make a few minutes available for them to encrypt your laptop. Our ISU data, and your information, will be more securely protected.

 

Multifactor authentication coming to Iowa State   

IT staff are working to expand the use of multifactor authentication (MFA) at Iowa State, to help keep our data more secure from unwanted intrusion. MFA, a login process which requires at least two forms of authentication instead of a singular password, is already used at ISU on the server level. In coming months, MFA will be expanded to include most or all of the services we use every day, like Office365 and AccessPlus.

 

Exactly how MFA will be deployed for these services is yet to be determined. But let's pick one popular example to give you an idea of how MFA works. Google offers MFA as an option feature with its accounts. (This applies to personal accounts only; CyMail at ISU, which uses Gmail, does not offer MFA.)

 

To access your personal Google account, enter your password when signing in. Google then sends a code to your phone via text, phone call, or through Google's Authenticator app. Enter that code on Google's login page and you're all set. You can register the device so that future logins will require only a password, or for one-time use only - which will require MFA at your next login.

 

MFA uses two independent systems to keep a high standard of security. In the example above, you need both your password and the code sent to your phone to log in from an unregistered device. Requiring both makes it significantly more difficult for a hacker to access your accounts.

 

We'll have more on MFA at ISU in the weeks to come.

    

Host larger meetings with "Webinar 100" for Zoom
If you use the video conferencing platform Zoom, it is now easier to host larger sessions. With a new Webinar 100 license, users can now host a meeting with up to 100 total viewers. Twenty-five of these viewers can be active participants, allowing for greater collaboration. The university currently has one license; it is transferable and will be granted to anyone who may need it on a short-term basis. To use the Webinar 100 license, contact Mike Wilson or ISU Zoom Support
IT Quarterly Meeting scheduled for the 15th of July

Whether you're an IT professional on campus or interested in what's new in IT at Iowa State, please mark your calendar plan to attend. ISU IT professionals meet quarterly for briefings and updates, and to share information among campus units.

 

IT Quarterly Meeting 
Wednesday, 15 July 2015 
2:00 - 3:30 meeting 
3:30 - 4:00 social 
Stark Lecture Hall, 1148 Gerdin Business Building
By The Numbers  
According to reports from Google for Education, Iowa State University received 33.2 million emails  through Gmail from January through March 2015. With a spring student enrollment of 32,794, this means each student received nearly 1,012   emails during those three months , or  11.25 emails per day on average.