Monthly Archives: July 2015

10 ways to secure a new PC or laptop

The joy of owning a new PC can easily turn to heartache should it be compromised by malware or a scam. Here’s how to keep a new PC or laptop safe.Your PC or laptop will never be more secure than it is the moment you lift it out of its box: shiny, untainted and unconnected to anything that can do it any harm. To guarantee that it will remain in such a state, your only real option is to pop it straight back in the box or, at the very least, keep it away from web connectivity. But, these days, a PC without the web is less than a half a machine, and with a little judicious planning you can limit the risks to any computer.We’ve put together a simple checklist of 10 key things to take care of when you first boot your new system. The basic principles apply to any computing device, but we’ve focused on Windows PCs for two reasons: they represent the biggest single group of computers, and they are under the greatest threat.

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Work like a kid

When I was four years old, I had a pair of Superman pajamas complete with a velcro cape.   I can remember climbing up on the couch and jumping off repeatedly in hopes that each leap would be the time that I would fly around the room.  It never occurred to me back then that I would never be able to fly like Superman.  I just kept trying over and over, because, to me, being able to defy gravity was still within the realm of possibility.  I just had to find a way to do it right.  I just had to figure out the correct way to jump to unleash the superpower that I was convinced was inside me.  I was never able to fly like Superman, but thinking back on those days when I still believed it was possible has made me think about the way we view our work.  As we grow older, our view of what is possible tends to narrow down.  I suspect this has to do with the experience that we build over time.  Being successful in any endeavor takes time, patience, and usually several failed attempts.  Over time, this can wear us down, increase our cynicism, and cause us to expect less from ourselves and less from others.  But, what if we continue to believe that we can fly?  I don’t have any more hopes of defying gravity, at least not unassisted (think Iron Man) but I can still push myself beyond what I and others are willing to accept is possible.  In the 1950s, no one thought it would be possible to put a man on the moon.  How then did it become a reality?  Of course it took advances in technology and science, but, more than anything else, it took people who believed it was possible.  That is the type of person and leader I want to be.   Those are the types of people I want to work with and be surrounded with.  I hope I can always work like a kid.

Lights, Camera, Action!

A Behind the Scenes Look of Video Production with UITS

One of the many responsibilities of the UITS department is producing various promotional videos. This includes writing the script, selecting appropriate music, filming and editing footage, and getting in tune with our creative outlets! Each step of the process plays an important role when piecing together the final product. It is important to our department that all commercials and videos encompass the assets that Columbus State University has to offer. Come take a look at Columbus State University through the eyes of UITS!

One of the great views found just outside of the RiverPark Campus!
One of the great views found just outside of the RiverPark Campus!
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…. the RiverPark Campus clock tower!
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…. the RiverPark Campus clock tower!
Zeno, UITS Technology Ambassador, using skills obtained from his experience a Mass Media Production student
Zeno, UITS Technology Ambassador, using skills obtained from his experience a Mass Media Production student

 

Using IP Cameras Safely

Using IP Cameras Safely

Network or internet cameras — usually marketed as IP cameras — are popular for keeping an eye on your property, your family, and your pets. These cameras provide live video and audio feeds that you can access remotely using an internet browser. But many IP cameras on the market are vulnerable to digital snooping, making security features key when you shop for and use these devices

Before Buying an IP Camera

An internet protocol (IP) camera lets you monitor your home or business using software that connects it directly to the internet. Unlike a webcam, it doesn’t need a computer to transmit video online. But if the IP camera you buy doesn’t encrypt the information it sends, other people could access and view your feed. Put simply, you could be hosting the world’s biggest open house! When you’re shopping for an IP camera, you’ll want to put security features at the top of your list of priorities.

Secure Wireless Transmission

An IP camera in your home sends its feed to your home wireless router. A good wireless security protocol helps secure your video feed as it travels to the router. Look for a camera that supports current wireless security protocols, like WPA2.

Secure Internet Transmission

If you access your camera’s video feed remotely, your camera will send information beyond your home wireless router via the internet. Not all cameras provide the same levels of security for this. Look for one that encrypts your information, including your username, your password, and the live feeds. Check the label on the box or read online, or contact the manufacturer directly to see if the camera uses SSL/TLS, or some other industry standard, to protect your information in transit. If your camera uses SSL/TLS to protect your login credentials, the URL for the camera’s login page should begin with https (the “s” is for secure).

Multiple Users 

If you plan to allow several users to access feeds from the camera, consider a camera that allows for different levels of access. For example, some cameras offer separate settings for administrators, who can make remote changes to settings like creating new accounts, setting passwords, and changing the direction the camera faces or the camera’s zoom function. Other cameras allow you to restrict when certain users can access the camera: You may want a friend to check on your home when you’re away, but not be able to access the camera when you’re in town.

Using Security Features

Once you’ve bought your IP camera, set it up with security in mind. Here’s how:

Keep the software up-to-date. 

The software that comes with your camera needs occasional updates. Register your camera or sign up to get updates to keep the software current. Before you install your new camera, visit the manufacturer’s website to see if there’s a new version of the software available for download. And after you’ve installed the camera, download the updates as soon as you get notice.

Check your camera’s password settings. 

Some IP cameras allow you to turn off the camera’s password requirement. But unless you want to share the feeds from your camera publicly, don’t do it. Set up your IP camera to require a password. Check the camera’s user guide for directions.

Use a strong password.

Choose a strong password that would be difficult for a stranger to guess rather than using the camera’s default username and password. Those default choices can be public knowledge.

Enable your camera’s security features.

If you bought a camera that encrypts data transmitted via the internet, turn this feature on. The log in page for your camera should have a URL that begins with https. If it doesn’t, the username and password you enter won’t be encrypted, and other people may be able to access them. Once you’ve logged in to your camera’s webpage, the URL still should indicate https. If it doesn’t, your feed isn’t encrypted, and other people may be able to view it.

Accessing the Camera from a Mobile Device

Before you access your camera from a phone or mobile device, be sure that the security features are in place for mobile access.

Confirm that your app is up-to-date.  

Check the app developer’s website, or use your mobile app marketplace to check for updates.

Practice secure access.

Use a strong password, and consider logging out of the app when you’re not using it. That way, no one else can access the app if your phone is lost or stolen.

Password-protect your phone or mobile device. 

Even if your app has a strong password, it’s best to protect your phone with one, too.

Use a secure Wi-Fi connection. 

A camera’s mobile app might not provide the same level of security as its website. So, even if your camera uses https on its website, that doesn’t guarantee that the camera’s mobile app will use encryption, too.

If the mobile app doesn’t encrypt your information, and you use the mobile app on an unsecured Wi-Fi network, troublemakers could intercept your video feed or your password. To protect your privacy, resist using the mobile app from a public Wi-Fi hotspot. Instead, use your phone’s internet browser and go to your camera’s login page. Look for https at the beginning of the URL so you know your information is encrypted.

It’s also a good idea to change the settings on your mobile device so that it doesn’t automatically connect to nearby Wi-Fi.

Reference: OnGuardOnline.gov

UITS Encourages Team Work

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UITS enjoyed a team building outing on June 12th to Rigby’s Entertainment Complex, located in Warner Robins, Georgia. The department was divided into diverse teams that participated in bowling and miniature golf. Individually, staff members were able to choose among racing go-carts, pool, arcade games, laser tag, etc. The day was filled with different activities to promote the importance of team unity. The team outing strengthened interpersonal relationships, which enhances productivity and increases our ability to meet customer needs. The UITS staff is always encouraged to participate in and welcome interdepartmental activities.