July 2014 Wireless Service Improvements

IT is making changes to the campus wireless network including: the Bradford Persistent agent is going away, MichiganTechSecure is going away, and the wireless bandwidth cap is being removed.

Based on specific campus wireless issues, IT is making the following service improvements, effective Monday, July 21 at 6:00am.

Specific Changes:

  • Wireless security will be through a “dissolvable” agent instead of requiring the Bradford persistent agent. Users with Windows and Mac laptops had previously been required to download and install the Bradford Agent software. Beginning Monday, IT will use a “dissolvable” agent, which will run once but not permanently install on your device. Since the Bradford Persistent Agent will no longer be needed, you will be able to permanently uninstall the Bradford client from your device. Uninstall instructions are located at: http://www.it.mtu.edu/bradford-agent/.
  • The MichiganTechSecure wireless network will be decommissioned. This network was never intended for use beyond a few machines and has caused issues with disconnecting hosts. Users should instead connect to the MichiganTech wireless network for a more reliable experience; this network is no less secure than the MichiganTechSecure network.
  • The bandwidth cap on wireless access has been removed. Last year, wireless usage was limited to 5 Mbps (Megabits per second) per device; this was updated to 15 Mbps in April. Beginning Monday, the cap will be removed completely. This does not mean unlimited data on wireless – as wireless capacity depends on your distance from an access point and its current traffic – but we will continue to monitor the wireless service and appreciate your feedback if you have any issues.

Which actions are required?

  • When connecting to the wireless network, please use MichiganTech instead of MichiganTechSecure.
  • Remove the Bradford Agent from your machine (if applicable) using the instructions located at http://www.it.mtu.edu/bradford-agent/.

These changes are planned to improve wireless service and stability. As always, if you have concerns or issues please let us know by contacting IT Help at 906-487-1111 or it-help@mtu.edu. If you need assistance joining your device to the MichiganTech wireless network, you can also stop by with your device at the IT and Library Service Center.

Wireless Network Change

The “MichiganTechSecure” wireless network will be going away soon.  This network was originally intended for a limited number of machines and not for general availability. When this change is made, users will need to make sure they are joined to the “MichiganTech” wireless network instead of “MichiganTechSecure.”

There is no need for concern; the “MichiganTech” wireless network is as secure as the “MichiganTechSecure” wireless network.

If you experience any issues or have any questions, please contact IT Help at it-help@mtu.edu or 906-487-1111.

Wireless Network Survey

In a continued effort to improve the wireless network and plan for its expansion, Michigan Tech IT will be working with engineers from Meridian IT to conduct wireless surveys in all Michigan Tech buildings. In order to get a comprehensive report, we need to access nearly every room in every building. The survey will take only a few moments in each room. Every effort will be made to minimize disruptions. The survey is underway and expected to be completed by Friday, June 20, 2014.

Everyone’s cooperation with this important project is very much appreciated. Any questions or concerns may be directed to Kurt Smith, Director of Telecommunications, at kcsmith@mtu.edu or 906-487-1887.

The Michigan Tech IT April Update

Michigan Tech IT would like to update you on the latest news.

  • Follow the ALC! The Active Learning Center, or as you may know it as “The Fish Bowl,” is being completely remodeled this summer. We’ll be posting updates on construction progress on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/MichiganTechIT.
  • We’re looking for the next Chris, i.e., a super intern to work with IT on customer feedback, marketing, and more. Interested? Contact Josh Olson at jolson@mtu.edu.
  • Microsoft Office 365 is now available for currently enrolled students to download free of charge at http://it.mtu.edu/downloads, along with many other packages such as Matlab, Autodesk, and Endnote.
  • Some of the feedback and suggestions we’ve received over the past month, include:
    • increased support for media player connection to the network
    • suggestions on guest wifi access; and
    • circulation of flyers for IT news updates.
  • You can continue to anonymously leave feedback on Michigan Tech IT services via this Google form: http://goo.gl/hMOF48.

Central Storage Maintenance and Potential Unavailability

WHAT is going on:

Please be advised that IT Infrastructure Services will be conducting central storage maintenance to continue to improve the stability and performance of the storage systems.  This maintenance may cause brief intermittent outages of access to central storage, so please attempt to minimize utilizing your home directory or network file shares during the maintenance window described below.

WHEN it will happen:

The scheduled storage maintenance will be from Friday May 9, 2014 at 8:00pm to Saturday May 10, 2014 at 8:00am.

WHY are we doing this:

The performance and stability of the new central storage system is our top concern.  We sincerely feel that you – the faculty, staff, and students – deserve the most affordable, stable, versatile, and highly-performing storage system available.  IT management and staff have been working closely with our storage vendor and together we have developed a detailed quality improvement plan.  This maintenance window will allow us to implement the many improvements in this plan with the least amount of negative impact on users.

WHOM will this affect:

The storage system undergoing maintenance affects all campus home directories, most academic and research shares, and most administrative data.  All students, staff, and faculty may see intermittent access loss to their home directories during this maintenance window. This maintenance will not affect storage attached to the Superior High Performance Cluster nor any other locally-attached storage.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please contact IT User Services at (906) 487-1111 or email it-help@mtu.edu.

IT Updates

  • Microsoft Office 365 is now available for currently enrolled students to download free of charge at http://it.mtu.edu/downloads.
  • Our next and final IT Student Outreach Forum for the semester will be held on April 22, 2014 from 6:00pm-8:00pm in the Alumni Lounge of the Memorial Union Building. Food will be served and a door prize drawing will be held. RSVP to our facebook event page or at it-help@mtu.edu.
  • Our IT feedback form has received quite a few comments over the past month, including:
  • suggestions on furnishings for wireless lounges, requests for staplers/hole punches, and adding computers to the workspaces in the Library to facilitate collaboration. You can continue to anonymously leave feedback on Michigan Tech IT services via this Google form: http://goo.gl/hMOF48.
  • Where’s Chris? Every Wednesday from 2-4pm, IT Intern Chris Cena will be hanging out in a different location on campus, available to take your comments and concerns directly to IT Management. His location will be posted on our facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/MichiganTechIT.

Important information on the Heartbleed vulnerability

Michigan Tech IT has set up a web page describing the Heartbleed vulnerability and what you should do about it. The page can be found at: https://sites.google.com/a/mtu.edu/heartbleed—what-you-need-to-know/.

Here are some important points:

  • Don’t panic! If you haven’t used a site since Monday April 7th, your information at that site probably isn’t at risk.
  • If you have used a vulnerable site since April 7th, you should change your credentials on that site, but only after they have patched their system. The IT site listed above has the steps that you should take prior to changing your password so that you don’t put your account at further risk.
  • There are many phishing/spam messages being sent to users trying to leverage the media attention regarding Heartbleed to convince you to visit their site and enter your credentials. They will often appear to be your bank or other major online sites telling you that you need to update your account.

Questions? Please contact IT at it-help@mtu.edu or call (906) 487-1111.

Microsoft Ending Support for Windows XP

As many have heard by now, Microsoft will be ending support for Windows XP on Tuesday, April 8th. On that day, Microsoft will release their last set of patches for the operating system. After that, any vulnerability that exists will exist forever. We expect to see attacks on vulnerabilities that Microsoft has not patched, or not known of, starting that afternoon putting machines running Windows XP at risk.

IT has been working with departments to migrate machines running Windows XP over to Windows 7, but there are still many machines on campus that have not been migrated. To mitigate the risks to the remaining Windows XP installations, IT will do the following on Monday, April 7th:

  • Turn on the Windows XP firewall on all Windows XP machines in the Universities various domains blocking all incoming connections but allowing the machine to be used as normal otherwise. This will not impede the user of the machine from browsing the web or any other activity, it will only affect other machines being able to initiate a connection to the Windows XP machine.
  • Put a firewall rule in place to allow remote desktop connections to the machines as long as the user is logged in to the VPN server (vpn.mtu.edu) and has chosen the “Get an MTU address” option. This includes remote desktop connections coming from other areas on campus which have been allowed without a VPN connection previously.
  • Anti-virus software has been installed on all domain machines and will continue to be updated to protect against known attack.

For our users, your machine should only be at minimal risk after these changes with the exception of your web browser of choice. We ask that users on Windows XP machines do not use Internet Explorer as it will remain vulnerable. Both Firefox and Chrome will continue to be updated to correct future vulnerabilities.

If we discover a Windows XP machine on the network that has been compromised and is attacking other machines, we will follow our normal procedure of temporarily taking the machine off from the network, but instead of cleaning it, it will be rebuilt with Windows 7. If you believe that your machine may be infected, please contact IT User Services as soon as possible.

If you have a University owned machine that is still running Windows XP, please contact User Services at it-help@mtu.edu or 7-1111 to schedule a time for your machine to be transitioned to Windows 7.

For home users still running Windows XP you can add similar protection to your machine to help extend its life, but the machine should be updated as soon as possible. You should do the following:

  • Make sure you have the Windows Firewall turned on from the control panel. Though important, many home routers will already offer you most of this protection, even if it’s turned off.
  • Avoid using a Windows XP laptop on a public wireless system unless you have turned on the firewall, as your home router will not be of assistance.
  • Make sure you are running an up-to-date anti-virus program. AVG is available for free to users at http://free.avg.com.
  • Upgrade your system to version Windows 7 or later as soon as you can.

We’ve launched a Google Site with more information on the end of Windows XP (https://sites.google.com/a/mtu.edu/itss-winxp-transition/). If you have any questions or concerns regarding the transition to Windows 7 or about an existing Windows XP installation, please contact User Services.

Adobe Connect Upgraded to Version 9.2

Adobe Connect recently upgraded our service to version 9.2 on March 9, 2014. Part of this upgrade requires our users to re-install an updated version of the Adobe Connect Add-in, which you does not require administrative privileges. The Adobe Connect Add-in is a feature required for presentation sharing, offline recording, and the sharing of PPTX files.

Please contact it-help@mtu.edu or call (906) 487-1111 should you need further assistance with the installation of the latest version of the Adobe Connect Add-in.