Computing Services

The department behind IT services at the University of Bath

Posts By: Chris Shimmin-Vincent

Ransomware email: be vigilant

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📥  Computing Services, Security

There have been reports that an educational institution has been targetted by a ransomware email. It contains an attachment that, when opened, scrambles files on your computer and on shared drives.

As a result of these reports, we recommend that you do not open any email attachments from unknown sources and ensure that you have antivirus software installed which is up to date. You can read the full guidance on protecting yourself against ransomware in our blog post.

Please feel free to contact us should you need any further information and advice about this issue.

We strongly advise you to back up your files on a regular basis.

 

WannaCrypt Ransomware - please be vigilant

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📥  Computing Services, Security

You will be aware of the news reports of ransomware attacks on the NHS and many other institutions around the world.  Ransomware attacks are mainly launched via email and are a major threat to our data.

To protect against these, the University of Bath relies on a layered approach to protect our systems with regular patching, anti-virus, firewall protection and mail filtering.  Updates to protect University systems against the vulnerability exploited in the latest attacks were tested and released to our systems and signature updates for the current attack were made available from our vendors.  Support teams are working to check that all updates have been deployed successfully and ensure that our systems are fully protected.

Ransomware does need someone to open the booby-trapped attachments so everyone should take care with emails containing attachments or links. An email may look genuine but can be spoofed. You should ask yourself:

  • Am I expecting an email from this organisation?
  • Have I actually purchased or used the service being referred to?
  • Am I confident that the attachment is safe?

Even if you choose to open the attachment:

  • Never tick/check enable macros on attachments, unless you explicitly need to and trust the sender. If in doubt contact Computing Services.
  • Don’t run a program if you don’t know where it has come from and haven’t chosen to install it yourself.

If you are in any doubt, the best way to contact us is at http://go.bath.ac.uk/it-help-form. If your enquiry is urgent then you can contact us on x3434.

Personal and home computers need to be protected as much as University systems, so make sure you run system updates and check your anti-virus is up to date the next time you use your computer. For more information see the article on the malware from Microsoft.

We also offer advice on dealing with fake and phishing emails on our website.

Wiki now available

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📥  Computing Services

Further to the issue experienced over the last few days with the Wiki, we are pleased to announce that the Wiki is now available again.

The downtime was caused by hardware failures that happened as a result of moving storage to the new datacentre. We have managed to restore the Wiki data from a backup taken in the early hours of Friday 21 April 2017. Unfortunately this does mean that any changes that have been made to Wiki pages and spaces after 12:20am on Friday 21 April have not been restored.

We would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused due to the downtime and related issues and we would like to thank you for your patience over the last few days.

If you do have any issues with the Wiki that have not been mentioned here then please contact Digital Marketing and Communications at web-support@bath.ac.uk

 

Digifest 2017

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📥  Computing Services, IT Literacy

This week I went to the Digifest conference which is run annually by Jisc. This year it was held in the ICC in Birmingham and theme for the conference was “the power of digital” and the potential of transforming the student experience particularly with regard to learning and teaching.

There were a number of talks I was interested in so, as I wasn’t able to clone myself (maybe look at that for next year’s theme, Jisc?), I had to choose wisely. Talks were wide-ranging and included available and future technology , best practices and case studies. A very interesting mix indeed.

The conference opened with a plenary which had members of the Jisc team talking about what was to come. It was very inspirational and made me look forward to the next two days.

I won’t go in to every session I attended as this will end up as an inordinately long blog post but I will probably follow up with further posts as I consider how it would be relevant to us here in Bath.

A quieter part of the day in Digifest 2017

A quieter part of the day in Digifest 2017

Building digital capabilities within your organisation

There were three teams from different universities talking about how to build digital capabilities and their approaches to this. It turns out that there is a lot of good work going on out there surrounding this and a common theme was the use of the Jisc Digital Capabilities Discovery Tool as a base to work on. In fact, this seemed to be a common theme throughout the conference.

Ross Anderson from the University of Hull talked mainly about staff engagement. One thing I found really fascinating was the gamification of learning and how it fitted in to their blended learning approach – having teams compete with each other to get to the next digital level. He also talked about having student and staff Elearning champions and peer training sessions in each department so that different groups of learners could get on board. I also thought that having a set of blended learning standards could ensure the consistency and quality of the material.

The University of Brighton looked at having a two lists of competencies – core (essential for everyone) and further (role-specific) which was an interesting approach. They also used strong visual resources to promote the digital literacies framework.

Nottingham Trent University went further to talk about how training could be taken one stage further – not just teaching people how to use a product such as Outlook but how they can use it in their particular role (such as managing your inbox). This is one thing that I think I will definitely be looking at taking forward.

Digital Capability Model

Digital Capability Model

Staff digital skills capabilities

Deborah Kellsey Millar, Digital and IT Director for Salford City College talked about using a step by step model towards organisational digital capability and the use of the discovery tool to achieve this. She also explained about their use of the Learning Wheel to model digital pedagogy and the introduction of the DigiPals service. This is where learners and Educational Technologists can provide tricks and tips for people who use digital resources in their learning in a friendly and approachable way using a web site and social media. I believe that having these accessible and readily available resources in a variety of formats increases uptake and buy in from a wide variety of providers.

Next, implementation of Lynda.com by Steve Rowett from UCL. They embedded Lynda.com packages within courses by using playlists which provided some context for the topics that academic staff taught. It also meant that students could learn what they want, when they want. They have had a big uptake from both staff and students for this but he said that marketing in the right way, at the right time is key and to get a marketing plan together before you even think about launching it to maximum effect.

Students’ expectations and experiences of digital technology

For me, this was one of the most relevant talks as one of the biggest issues I face being in charge of IT communications and training is student engagement and communications reach. There were students from different institutions talking about what worked for their organisation.

The University of Northampton surveyed their students and one of the most important things that came out of that was access to devices and WiFi. I think this is probably important to a majority of institutions as more and more students bring their own devices. They also asked students to complete the statement “When digital technology is used on my course…”. Apparently, it gave some interesting answers and they will be providing further detail on this soon.

Epping Forest College said that they engaged more when they linked in to other general events such as Safer Internet Day. I think that collating a list of events such as these would help with planning communications and improve reach. They also had students who were Digital Voice Experts and they were given specific training in topics such as video production as an incentive. They would also have access to a social media account to tweet to other students on behalf of the college which meant it was more relevant and students didn’t feel like they were being talked down to. Zac, one of the students who was responsible for the social media aspect, managed to get Epping to number one in the Edurank league table for social media. Something we could definitely work on.

The University of Stirling made use of “Happy or Not” consoles which you may have seen in airports and train stations where students could press the relevant “face” depending on how they found the digital learning spaces on campus. This was used in a business case to get these refurbished. They also had “WiFi wizards” - students who were able to help others with WiFi issues and report any common issues to the Service Desk.

Augmented and virtual reality

Now the exciting bit! During the conference, there were a number of organisations who showcased the latest products they had on offer. Personally, I found the most exciting products on show were:

  • HoloLens made by Microsoft - This is a pair of glasses that uses augmented reality. They were demonstrating anatomy and it was really weird having a transparent “person” standing in front of you with organs that you could “tap” on to find out more and walk around the “person” as if they were actually standing there. I think this could be really useful in applications such as mechanical engineering research where you would not need to build expensive physical models to see how they would look and interact but build it “virtually” instead. In fact, we have one of these available to loan, so let us know if you wish to utilise it!Hololens demonstration
  •  Samsung Gear VR – they demonstrated this using a lab safety scenario where you could walk around a lab and interact with items there and find out how to keep the environment in a lab safe such as storing chemicals and wearing protective clothing. This is a good idea as you can ensure students are aware of lab safety before they even step into a physical lab.

Dundee and Angus College gave a very good presentation on the work they have been doing in creating a Learning Lab where they provided a space for staff and students to drop in and have hands on experience of the different technologies out there including VR headsets, 3D printers and augmented reality.

Closing plenary

Lauren Seger Weinstein, chief data officer at TFL gave the closing talk on how they were using data to improve the efficiency and customer experience of the public transport network in London. She talked about creating trust whilst giving an excellent customer experience with innovation whilst providing excellent value for money. They are very data rich and provide a lot of open data for use by academic institutions. This could really be useful for researchers looking at transport issues across the city.

One initiative they have implemented is to let customers know the busiest times in their underground stations. This means that if you are an occasional user of a particular station and you are flexible with your travel times, you could travel at a quieter time for a more enjoyable experience. They gathered data from the number of devices connecting to their WiFi service together with the footfall through the automatic gates to produce this information. I think this is possibly something we could be using in our Library and other PC spaces so that students know when the best times are to access a PC.

closing-plenary-and-keynote-from-lauren-sager-weinstein-15-1024

Final thoughts

All things considered, it was a very enjoyable and informative event. It was useful to hear from other institutions, particularly with regard to the initiatives they have carried out and how it was received. If you do get a chance to go, I would thoroughly recommend it and if you did miss this year’s conference, then you can find slides from some of the talks on the Digifest website. And you never know, you could also win one of their competitions - I can't wait to try it out...

Bean Boozled game

Phishing attempt: Email regarding payroll

  

📥  Security

We have been made aware that several users and RT queues were sent an email regarding a payroll notification. Please be aware that this is a fake phishing attempt. Please do not click any links, fill in any documents or enter any personal information. If you are concerned, you can forward any emails to the team at phishing@bath.ac.uk and they will advise.

If you have clicked on the link and filled out the documentation, please visit the Service Desk on Level 2 of the Library, or log a help ticket for further advice.

The junk email filter has picked this up but there may be cases (for example, RT queues) where it has ended up in your inbox.

Below is an example of the phishing email:

Dear Member
1 New Notification Regarding Your Payroll

[LINK TO FRAUDULENT SITE]

Thank You,
University of Bath

 

 

Goodbye 2 South, hello 6 West

📥  Computing Services

It is an end of an era for Computing Services as today the last of the Computing Services teams move in to their new home in 6 West. Originally the South West Universities Regional Computer Centre (SWURCC) machine room, 2 South has been a key building within the University over its 50 year history and it has gone through many changes since then.

In July 2016, the  majority of Computing Services teams moved over to our state of the art building, 4 East South, and this left a few teams – some IT Supporters, Information Management and IT Training in 2 South.

Now it is our turn to be on the move.

I am really looking forward to the launch of our new IT Training Suite which will provide a flexible, modern and comfortable space for the wide range of  IT training courses we offer. Having the IT Supporters and Service Desk staff close by will aid communication and encourage greater collaboration with the Information Management and Training teams.

6 West provides a whole host of opportunities for us in User Services to continually improve our customer service and training provision and prepares us well for the future. A future I am really looking forward to.

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So long 2 South, thanks for all the memories but it's time to go.

 

Christmas break 2016

  

📥  Computing Services

Our holiday dates are from 5pm on Thursday 22 December 2016 until 9am on Tuesday 3 January 2017.

The IT Service Desk, Audio Visual team & Campus Computer Shop (Library - Level 2) will reopen on Tuesday 3 January 2017 at 9am.

Please log queries using IT Help during the holiday period and we will deal with them as soon as possible on our return.

Out of Hours procedure for serious IT faults

During the holiday the out of hours procedure applies for reporting serious IT faults.

Please note all times and dates are weather dependant in line with the University's adverse weather conditions guidance notes.

We wish you a Merry Christmas Break!

26966 Campus Snow Pictures. Client: Nic Delves-Broughton IDPS

 

Account deactivation phishing email - 24 November 2016

  

📥  Computing Services, Email, Security

We are aware that some users have received a phishing email with the subject line: Deactivation Request. We have made steps to prevent further instances of this email being received.

If you receive one of these emails, delete it and do not open the link.   If you opened the link and completed any information then please get in touch with our Service Desk at go.bath.ac.uk/it-help-form.

Read our advice on phishing emails.

Example content of the phishing email

Subject: Deactivation Request

Dear Customer,

We received a request to terminate your Email and process has started, kindly give us 24.00 hours to complete your request.

If you did not make this request Please here: undo deactivation request [LINK]

All information on your account will be deleted and access to your online access will be denied.

Thanks,

IT Service

 

 

Issues with printing

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📥  IDPS

You may be having an issue printing due to an issue with one of the print queues.

To resolve this issue, you will need to change the default printer on your PC to the PostScript print queue.

How do I change my default printer?

To change the default printer to the PostScript print queue:

Click Start
Select Devices and Printers
Right click on the printer called PostScript on MyPrint
Select Set as default printer

Printing from Microsoft Office or Acrobat

If the PostScript on MyPrint or \\MyPrint\Postscript printer does not appear as the printer:

Select File
Select Print
Click on the down arrow on the printer selection box
Select PostScript on MyPrint or \\MyPrint\PostScript
Click Print

Why is this happening?

There are two main queues within the Managed Print Service – General and PostScript. There is currently an issue affecting the General print queue and a resolution is being investigated.

Thank you for your patience whilst a resolution is investigated.

For all other issues please log a ticket http://go.bath.ac.uk/it-help-form

Yahoo user security

📥  Computing Services, Security

As a result of the security incident involving Yahoo that has recently come to light, we are aware that some of you may have used the same security questions for both the Yahoo and University systems.

If this is the case, as well as securing your Yahoo account, we recommend that you change your security questions to protect the integrity of your University account. You can do this by going to https://www.bath.ac.uk/account/manager/