Securing your Zoom Session

Zoom has experienced a surge in the number of people that are using its video conferencing software in the past few weeks. While this surge has been great for their business, it has also brought out some security issues with their standard set of options. Zoom-Bombing is one particularly annoying security issue that Zoom users are experiencing. (Information about Zoom-Bombing can be found on our blog.) While Zoom is working on ways to fix issues like Zoom-Bombing, there are some security features that are already built-in which can be used to make your meetings more secure and less likely to be interrupted.

Require a password for entry to zoom meetings.

When you are scheduling your zoom meetings, one of the standard options available is to require a password. You create a password that is required for anyone that is joining the meeting to enter before they are allowed into the Zoom Session. Without the password, people will not be able to join your Zoom session even if they by chance get your meeting id number correct. Previously scheduled meetings can be edited to now include a password. However, you will need to resend the meeting information including the new password.

Lockdown the chat menu.

If you are worried about people spamming the chat with misinformation or links to wrong or harmful software, you can always limit or simply turn the chat feature off. As a Zoom host, you have the ability to allow chat with everyone, to allow chat with only the hosts, or to allow chat with no one. This can be a great asset if you are using Zoom to share a video with the public and you do not want to require a password.

Mute All Zoom participants and do not allow them to unmute themselves.

Zoom meetings can become very distracting when individuals will not mute their mics. This can be even more upsetting when an individual is purposely trying to disrupt a meeting by using their Mic. Within the Participants menu, there is a way to mute all participants and not allow them to unmute themselves. This can be extremely helpful in large meetings when people are being disruptive intentionally or unintentionally. However, this will require the host to manually unmute each person who will need to speak in the meeting.

Zoom menu allowing the host to mute participants

Lock Meeting

Zoom has a feature built-in where you can lock a meeting after it has started and it will block anyone else from entering the meeting. If you are worried about random people joining a meeting, you can simply lock the meeting after the desired guests have signed in and no one else will be allowed to join.

Zoom menu options for Participants

Encrypt Meeting

Zoom by default is encrypted from Zoom client to Zoom client*. While the default setting is on, it is possible that it be turned off. We recommend leaving the default option turned on to heighten the security of your meeting.

*The phone conferencing Zoom plugin can not be encrypted due to its connection type. While using the phone connection is less secure, in certain cases it may be needed.

Zoom encryption settings

Create and Distribute Email Newsletters with Microsoft Publisher

I stumbled across a feature of Microsoft Publisher the other day I was not aware of. Publisher is capable of not only creating an email newsletter ( e-newsletter), but it will also send out the newsletter in the body text of your email.

There are a few tips that you will need to be aware of before you try to create and send out your own email newsletter.

  1. Your newsletter can only be one single page long. That page can be very long in length. However, it will only send out the first page if you have multiple pages in the Publisher file. (On the Page Design tab in Publisher, choose the Page Setup option under the Size drop-down button. This will allow you to manually change the size of the one and only page on your email newsletter. Also, keep in mind that narrow pages work better for cell phones.)
  2. If you are including multiple photos, be sure to compress all of the images before sending the newsletter. Many email providers will not accept emails that are over a certain size ~20 Megabytes. (You can easily do this for all photos by right-clicking on a photo and choosing Format Picture. Under the Picture tab, select the Compress… button. Change Target Output to Web, choose the apply to all pictures option and click Compress.)
  3. Be sure to include photos, links or any other items that will make the newsletter stand out.
  4. Your Microsoft Outlook will need to set up and signed into for Publisher to be able to send your newsletter.
  5. Before distributing the newsletter, send it to your email and coworkers if possible to check for errors.
  6. Create a contact group in your Outlook with all contacts who you will send the email to. Outlook contact groups are a great way to easily create and manage email addresses.
  7. When sending your newsletter, use the BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) option to input email addresses. This will stop the recipients from replying to everyone on the email contact group.

Sending your Newsletter

After you have created, proofed and edited your newsletter, you can start the process to send it.

  1. In your Publisher, click the File button and then select the Share option in the menu. Under the Email section, choose the Send Current Page option. (you will have a chance to view and adjust the newsletter before sending it.)
  2. Enter your email address or contact group that you would like to send your newsletter to. Since this utilizes Outlook for sending emails, you can create and use a contact group to manage who will receive the newsletter. (The To, CC, and BCC buttons open the Outlook address book.)
  3. Change the Subject line to the title of your newsletter and the date of the current edition. (Example DASNR IT Newsletter: March 2020)
  4. When all edits are finished, simply click Send and the newsletter will be on its way.

Cleaning and sanitizing your desktop workspace.

Cleaning your computer can be a hassle. However, a computer keyboard can easily be one of the dirtiest items in your home. Especially if you occasionally eat at your computer or forget to wash your hands before using your computer. With the health risks we are currently facing, it is a good idea to regularly clean your computers and workspaces. The following are simple directions for cleaning and sanitizing your desktop workspace.

1. Turn off and unplug your computer power cables. (If needed, take a photo before unplugging any cables so you will plug them back in the correct ports.)

2. Use a can of compressed air to blow the loose dust and particles off of your keyboard, monitor, and computer case. (Use as directed  to ensure no liquid gets on devices.)

3. To disinfect your keyboard and mouse use lightly damp disinfectant wipes and gently scrub down each device. Be sure that liquid does not go into either device as it can cause them to fail. (Never spray anything directly on either device. If needed spray cleaner on a towel to make it slightly damp, then wipe down the devices.)

4. Dust monitor with a microfiber cloth or duster. (If needed, use a lightly damp cloth to dust screen. Use water only. Do not use cleaning products on screen as they can cause damage.)

5. All computer accessories (printers, scanners, speakers, and etc.) use disinfectant wipes only on surfaces that do not contain monitors/screens, scanning beds, or other surfaces that could be damaged by cleaner. On buttons or controls, be sure that no liquid is spilled on or into them as they can damage the components.

6. Use disinfectant wipes to clean all other areas around workspace including desk, chairs, door handles, and etc. (Use as directed to ensure surfaces are not damaged by wipes.)

7. If you are working mobile, use cleaning wiped on the handles and outside of your laptop case as well as anything else with exposure to germs.

8. To clean laptops, make sure they are powered off. Use disinfectant wipes and lightly clean the outside of the laptop as well as the keyboard. Do not use wipes on the screen. (Take special care that liquids are not spilled or dropped into the laptop’s vents or keyboard as they can harm the device.)

9. For cell phones, use disinfectant wipes on the cell phone case and the back of the cell phone. Be cautious around the screen and camera as some wipes could cause damage.

Update Coming to Microsoft Office

There is a new update coming soon to Microsoft office that will include some very noticeable changes. If you are not expecting these changes they can be very jarring. Thankfully, these updates do not change the core functionality of Microsoft Office just some of the visuals of the programs. The following are several of the changes that you will notice right away.

The application icons have been updated to a new image for each program except for the icons for Publisher and Access. (Older icons on the left and new icons on the right.)

There is a new home screen for when you open Microsoft Word. It contains several popular templates as well as several of your recent files. On the left of the screen, there are also icons for New files and Open documents pages.

The New page gives you additional templates as well as the Blank document option. You can also simply hit escape and it will take you right into a blank document.

The Open page gives you a list of recent documents as well as options to select common places your files might be saved. You can always use the Browse button to open the file explorer and navigate to your needed files.

The ribbon in Word has been updated. There are several new options added and the ribbon has been refreshed. However, most ribbon items and commands have not been moved or replaced which makes the update less painful.

PowerPoint and Excel have been updated to the new Home page style and also include very similar New and Open pages. Their file ribbons have been updated and refreshed as well.

Outlook has also been refreshed and does include a few new features. Many of the ribbon icons have been changed to new images which give outlook a completely new feel. However, the layout of the ribbon items has not been changed, making the upgrade easier for end-users.

Microsoft will start releasing this update soon for Office 365 users. For those who are using stand-alone versions of Microsoft Office, you will either need to upgrade to the newer version or change to Office 365 downloaded apps to get the new features. If you have any questions, please contact your DASNR IT support specialist.

Windows 10 update 1903

Microsoft is slowing rolling out a new feature update that will be coming to all Windows 10 computers. This specific update, feature update 1903, will be upgrading the operating system (OS) of computers to fix security vulnerabilities as well as to bring new features to Windows 10. The following are a few of the updates that are coming with this feature update.

New Desktop background and light theme

One of the most obvious changes in the new feature update is the default background. The last several feature updates from Microsoft, the default background has remained the same. However, with the new update, the background is changing to a new brighter and lighter image. There is also a new Windows (light) Theme for the start menu and task bar. This in combination with the lighter background can be a little shocking. However, the basic functionality of the start menu and taskbar are remaining the same.

Spectre fix resulting in speed improvements.

The 1903 feature update has several patches that fix, or to be exact provide better fixes, for the Spectre vulnerability. The fixes will replace the older patches that slowed down many systems. There are also several other improvements in the update that should help create speed improvements.

7GB of storage reserved for updates

A problem that many users have experienced is not having enough memory to install new updates. To remedy this, Windows now reserves 7GB of space for upcoming updates. This could be an issue if you are currently running out of storage space. However, it will help ensure you are receiving security updates.

These are just a few of the new updates coming with the Windows 10 1903 feature update. If you have questions or concerns, please contact your Support Specialist.

Phishing emails on the rise

Over the past few months, we have seen an increase in the number of phishing emails being sent out. Unfortunately, this is a trend that will continue. While the email administrators are working hard to filter out these emails, it is virtually impossible to block all of them from being delivered. Because of this, it is very important for all of us to use caution when checking our email.example phishing email

How can we tell if emails are phishing emails? Phishing emails can be difficult to spot. However, there are several ways that you can identify them.

  1. Check the email for incorrect English. A large percentage of phishing emails will have broken English or will sound off if you read the message aloud.
  2. Check to see if the link is correct. DO NOT CLICK THE LINK, instead place your cursor on top of the link and wait for the link address to come up. If the email is sent as an official OSU email, the address should be an okstate.edu website address. If it is not, it is most likely a phishing email.
  3. Question the sender of the email. If the email states that it is from HR, then the sender should be someone that works within the HR department. If it is not, then most likely it is a phishing email. You can also contact the person who sent the email and ask if the email is real.

What should I do when I receive these emails? First off, you should not click on any of the links in the email. Cliexample phishing emailcking on the links can compromise your account or allow your account to be spoofed (someone mimicking your email address to send out phishing emails to other people.) You can also forward the email to abuse.okstate.edu where the email will be checked and then blocked if found harmful. Then simply delete the email.

What should you do if you clicked on the link? If you accidentally clicked the link, you should change your OKEY password as soon as possible. This is even more important if the link asked you to log in

and you did. If you do not change your password, you could be allowing access to your account and personal information. Clicking links in phishing emails could also install malware on your computer which will need to be removed by your support specialist.

What should I do if I am receiving failed delivery emails for emails that I did not send? You should change your OKEY password immediately. Your account could be spoofed (someone mimicking your email address to send out phishing emails to other people.) Check your sent items folder for emails that you did not send. If they are in your sent items, you will need to contact your support specialist.

What should I do if I receive failed delivery emails to specific email addresses when sending emails? This could mean that your email address is being blacklisted (blocked) by a specific email server. First, double check the email address to be sure it is correct. If the email address is correct and is still being blocked, forward the email containing the delivery failure message to helpdesk@okstate.edu so the email administrators can resolve the issue.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your support specialist.

Microsoft Office 365: Online Archive and importing items from local archive

Office 365 Online Archive

It is hard to believe that it has been 2 years since our email system changed to Microsoft Office 365. While we have seen our fair share of problems with Office 365, the benefits have completely outweighed any of the issues we ran across. Moving from 500 Megabytes (MB) of storage space to 1 Terabyte (TB) per account has been a great asset to us all. Because of this change in storage space, we are no longer required to archive our emails on a regular basis to ensure we continue receiving email. When we switched to Office 365, the old archive settings were removed from our accounts because they were no longer required.Outlook Folder Properties

Office 365 includes an upgraded version of the old archive system we used before. The new online archive saves your email to the cloud instead of saving them to your computer’s hard drive and includes an additional 50 -100 Gigabytes (GB) of storage.) In addition, the archive can be accessed from anywhere and on any device with internet access, by using cowboymail.okstate.edu. The online archive is disabled by default; however, you can change the settings to enable the archive. The following guide will show you have to adjust the archive settings.

  1. In Microsoft Outlook, right click on the folder you would like to archive. (In this example, I will use the inbox.)
  2. Select the Properties button.
  3. Change to the Policy tab at the top of the Properties window.
  4. Use the drop-down list under Online Archive to change the archive settings for the folder.

Moving items from a local archive to Online Archiveinbox-properties

If you have an old archive folder in your Outlook, you should consider moving the files to the Online Archive. The following directions will help you move the files. (Note: Moving files from an archive to the Online Archive will take a while and may lock Outlook up for several minutes. If this happens, be patient and do not close Outlook until it is completed.)

How to move folders

  1. Right-click on the folder in your archive and choose move folder.
  2. In the Move Folder window, scroll to the Online Archive option and select the location you would like the folder to be placed. (If you want the folder in the root of the Online Archive, select Online Archive – “Your Email Address”.)
  3. Click OK.

How to move individual filesmove-folder

  1. Open the old archive folder containing items you would like to move.
  2. Select the emails to be moved (Control A will select all the emails in the folder.)
  3. Right-click one of the emails to be moved, select move, and then choose other folder.
  4. Navigate to the correct folder and select OK.

 

Tips for purchasing a new computer

Christmas is quickly approaching and it seems that every day there are new and better sales. This is why this time of year is perfect for purchasing a new computer. If you have made it through Black Friday and Cyber Monday and are still looking for a computer or if you have purchased one and want to verify it is a good deal, here are a few guidelines that will help.

Brand: When looking at computers, the brand is very important. There are many cheap computers on the market and they tend to have shorter lifespans and more issues than computers by better-known makers. Dell, HP, ASUS, and Lenovo are a few of the better-known makers. If you are looking for the best quality from these companies, go to a store where you can look at the computers in person.

Processors: The processor is one item that you do not want to cheap out on. Many different processors on the market are acceptable and would do a good job. I tend to recommend going with Intel i5 or i7 processors. They are mid to high-grade processors and include technology to speed up or slow down depending on how you are using your computer.

Random Access Memory (RAM): RAM is another area where you do not want to cheap out. If you purchase too little RAM, your computer will run slower than it should. A good starting place with RAM is 4 Gigabytes (GB). If you plan to use your computer for more powerful programs like gaming or graphical programs, you should upgrade your RAM to 8 or 16 GBs.

Hard Drive: It is very important that you get a hard drive that is large enough to store your data. I usually recommend getting no less than a 500GB hard drive for a desktop or 256GB hard drive for a laptop. If you plan to store a lot of photos or files, get a larger hard drive. If you run out of space in the future, you can always purchase an external hard drive. However, you want to be sure that your main hard drive is large enough to handle updates and basic files.

Video Card: A video card is very important if you are going to use your computer for gaming or other heavy graphical jobs. Video cards also assist the processor thereby speeding up your computer and giving the computer a longer useful life. AMD and NVidia are both reputable video card producers and offer many good choices when looking at 1-4GB video cards.

Warranty: Most new computers come with a one-year warranty. However, you want to double check this before purchasing. I normally recommend getting the longest warranty you can afford (2-5 years.) If there is an issue with the computer, it should be covered under warranty. If you anticipate the device could be damaged by accident, be sure the warranty includes accidental coverage. Most manufactures warranties will not cover accidental damage.

There are many different options available when purchasing a new computer. Finding the right one at a great price can be difficult at times. I hope that this information makes it a little easier and this is the best time of year to find great deals on new computers. Good luck with your search and have a Happy Holidays!

Cyber Security Awareness Month: Malware on my phone!

October is Cyber Security Awareness month, which makes it a great time to review security on your mobile devices. Instead of elaborating on the staggering statistics showing that malware infections on mobile devices is at an all-time high[1], I wanted to share a personal experience of malware on my cell phone.

A couple months ago I experienced a malware attack on my phone. While at home, I scrolled through Facebook and noticed a link to an article about an accident that had taken place in my home city. The article piqued my curiosity so I clicked the link and instantly regretted my decision. The link opened a website that had been hacked: Multiple popups displayed on my phone screen stating my phone had a virus, and then my phone started vibrating and buzzing like a swarm of bees. After a couple seconds of utter shock I took the following steps to ensure my device was safe and my accounts had not been hacked.

First, I closed the Facebook app without selecting any icon on the screen or attempting to close out the page. I returned to the home screen by pressing the home button. Then, I pressed the button to open recent apps and closed all open applications. (Both Android and Apple devices have this ability.) Using Lookout[2], a mobile security app, I ran a full security scan on my phone. Thankfully, Lookout found that my phone was not infected.

Second, I needed to ensure that my password had not been stolen. On my computer I logged into Facebook and changed my password. From within Facebook, I could force a log out on all devices currently connected to Facebook. I reviewed recent posts to my account. Every post was mine and there was no suspicious activity. As a precaution I uninstalled the Facebook app on my phone then reinstalled it to be sure there were no remnants of malware left on my device. Over the next few days I kept a close eye on the accounts currently connected from my phone to ensure they had not been compromised.

Thankfully, my phone was not infected but it was a frightening experience that emphasized the importance of mobile security. When a similar experience happens to you, it is important you have a plan to lessen its impact. Perhaps the single most important thing you can do to protect your mobile device – and the apps that affect your personal identity – is install an anti-malware security program. Avast[3] and McAfee[4] are great security programs available for both iOS and Android phones. Another good tip is to only save login information for accounts that contain non-critical information. Finally, be cautious with links on social media sites, when downloading new apps, and with any pop-ups on your mobile device. Had I been more cautious, I would not have followed the link in Facebook.

[1] https://www.networkworld.com/article/3185766/security/malware-infection-rate-of-smartphones-is-soaring-android-devices-often-the-target.html

[2] https://www.lookout.com/

[3] https://www.avast.com/

[4] https://www.mcafee.com/

Microsoft OneDrive: online storage and sharing files

Microsoft OneDrive is a great product for online storage and sharing files with your coworkers. If you have not heard of OneDrive, it is very similar to Dropbox or Google Drive. While each of those storage solutions offer a small amount of free storage, as employees of Oklahoma State University, we have one Terabyte of storage space available with OneDrive. This makes OneDrive a great asset and tool.office-365

1. How do I access OneDrive?

OneDrive is included with Office 365 and can be accessed the same way you access your Okstate email: login to your email at https://cowboymail.okstate.edu using your Okey credentials. Once you login, click on the menu button at the top left of the screen or click on the Office 365 button, then choose OneDrive from the options. OneDrive will then open with your account.

2. Is there an easy way to access OneDrive files on my computer?office-365-header

Yes, there is an easy way to access your files from your computer. When your OneDrive account is open, choose the Sync button from the top menu. This will try to connect to OneDrive, which is already installed on your computer. It will open a syncing-filesmessage stating that it is “getting ready to sync.” If it does not automatically connect, then you should download the newest version of OneDrive via the popup (shown to the right.) Once OneDrive is installed, login to the work account using your Okey credentials. OneDrive should be included in your Explorer shortcuts.

3. How do I share files with others?

You can easily share your files with your coworkers from your OneDrive folder either ononedrive-sharing your computer or in your Office 365 account. Simply right click on the folder or file you would like to share and choose share, then enter the person’s email address with an optional message; click Send to finish the process. Alternatively, you can copy a link to the file or use Outlook to send the link.

4. How do I see a folder that was shared with me on my desktop computer app?

OneDrive does not sync folders that are shared with you to your desktop computer. However, there is a way to get them to sync: Open your OneDrive through Office 365 then open the folder that is shared with you. Choose the Sync button from the top of the screen and then simply choose what all you would like to be synced to your computer. At this time you cannot sync individual files to your desktop client.

OneDrive is a great resource that we get free with Office 365. If you have any questions or any problems with OneDrive please contact your DASNR IT Support Specialist.

* If you are using OneDrive for Business, you will want to download the newer version of OneDrive.