We all know the role that social media now plays in the world.  Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,  SnapChat, and LinkedIn, social media has become nearly inescapable.  While these sites are amazing resources for connecting people across the globe, they all come with risks.  These risks not only could affect you but also your friends, family, and employer.  This article is going to cover some key steps for securely using social media.

Perhaps the most important and obvious step towards securely using social media is to be careful of what you post.  Even if you enable privacy features and think your posts are not viewable to everyone, you should still post with the mindset that it can be viewed by everyone.  If it could negatively impact your reputation and future, it should not be posted on any social media platform.

Even though privacy features should not be viewed as a filter that blocks your posts from being viewed by anyone, they should still be enabled.  Almost all social media sites have strong privacy features.  However, with strong privacy features comes change and confusion.  You should make it a habit to check for any changes and to confirm they are working the way they are intended.

Another seemingly obvious security step is to create a strong, unique password.  This has been drilled into all computer users head’s but it is still avoided by many people.  The reason for its avoidance is simple.  People have a hard time remembering complex passwords and do not want to have to remember passwords for multiple systems.  While we recognize the annoyance in having multiple complex passwords, it is still a key step in securely using not only social media sites but computers in general.

Unfortunately, creating a strong password for all of your accounts is no longer enough.  You should still have a strong password but you should also enable two-factor authentication on all of your social media accounts.  Pitt has already enabled two-factor authentication when logging into my.pitt.edu in order to protect you from people who could potentially obtain your password.  While this may seem like more work, your personal information will be substantially more secure.  To look at it another way, you would not want simply having your ATM card as a way to withdraw money.  Banks knew this and decided a pin was also necessary to access the features of an ATM card.

You should also be careful of what you click on when using social media sites.  There is a good chance you can be tricked into providing personal information by clicking on a fraudulent post or link. If a friend’s post seems suspicious you should avoid accessing it.

Being careful of what you post, creating a strong password, enabling two-factor authentication, and being careful of what you click on when using social media sites are all effective ways to securely use social media.  If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please submit a ticket through the FIS portal.

 

Today continues a series of posts about Microsoft Office 365 applications that have recently become available to FIS customers.  The purpose here is to help you use these applications in a more efficient manner and make their first-time use much less imposing.  We are going to continue our discussion on Microsoft Planner.  Part I on Planner focused on what it is, how to access it, and how to create buckets and tasks.  Part II is going to focus on how to check on the status of tasks and view the schedule for the various tasks that have been created.

How to Check on the Status of Tasks

To check on the status of tasks, click “Charts” which will be located underneath the various Teams channel spaces (discussed in Part II of Teams).  Charts will display the status of the tasks.  It lets you know which tasks have not been started, are in progress, late, or completed.   It will also display the various buckets that were created as well as your team members.  The team members section will show the status of their individual tasks.

View Schedule for Various Tasks Created

Next to Charts is “Schedule” which functions hand in hand with checking on the status of tasks.  Schedule will display the various tasks that have been assigned and their status in calendar format.  It will allow you to see when the start date and end date of the task.  Also, you can open the task directly from the calendar.   You can also change the display between week and month.

This ends the series on Planner.  As you may have noticed, it is a relatively straightforward and lightweight program that definitely has its advantages as a task manager.

Continue to check the FIS website for more exciting articles on Microsoft Office 365 applications.  For more information, please submit a ticket through the FIS portal.

Today continues a series of posts about Microsoft Office 365 applications that have recently become available to FIS customers.  The purpose here is to help you use these applications in a more efficient manner and make their first-time use much less imposing.   We are going to move on from Teams (Part I, II, III and IV) and start to discuss Microsoft Planner.  Part I is going to focus on what it is, how to access it, and how to create buckets and assign tasks.

What is Planner

Planner provides a hub for team members to create plans, organize and assign tasks to different users, and to check updates on progress through dashboards.  In other words, Planner is a task manager and is a great way to organize teamwork. It is a great solution for those without an extensive background in Project Management, and it has tight integration with Office 365 for ease of access.   Listed below are many of the features of Planner:

  • Create new plans, assign tasks, and share files with others
  • Organize teamwork and collaborate on projects in a simple, visual way
  • Chat with others to make sure you’re on the same page
  • Keep track of your team’s progress and stay on top of your project
  • Works within Microsoft Teams
  • Access the application from anywhere on any device

We will be getting into more detail of Planner features, but that list gives you a pretty basic idea of all its capabilities.  As a result of all those functions, it can be overwhelming when viewing and using it for the first time.  Let’s start with possibly the most important and easiest part.  How to access it.

How to Access Planner

Planner can be accessed by going to portal.office.com, logging in with your Pitt Credentials, clicking “Explore all your apps”, and selecting the Planner icon.  There is currently no locally installed application.  It can also be opened within Microsoft Teams.  To open it within Teams, click on your team channel, select the plus symbol at the top of the page, and choose Planner.  You will be prompted to enter a tab name.  Once it is accessed, the next step towards effectively using it is creating buckets and assigning tasks to individuals.

How to Create Buckets and Assign Tasks

We are going to focus on using Planner within Teams as the ease of access is one of the program’s greatest benefits.  Buckets should be thought of as the event or project.  To create a bucket, simply click “Add New Bucket” and enter a name.  Within each bucket, you can assign tasks to individuals.  To create a task, click the plus symbol, enter a task name, set a due date, and assign the task to an individual.  More details can be included by clicking on the task you created.   You can include a description of the task as well as add checklists, comments, and attachments.  You can also include a start date and adjust the due date.  From the assignee’s perspective, they will receive an email and can open their assigned task from the message’s contents.

Thus concludes the first part on Microsoft Planner.  Please check in next week to find out more about this exciting and useful application.  For more information, please submit a ticket through the FIS portal.

Today continues a series of posts about Microsoft Office 365 applications that have recently become available to FIS customers.  The purpose here is to help you use these applications in a more efficient manner and make their first-time use much less imposing.  We are going to continue discussing Teams.   Part I discussed what Teams is, how to access it, and how to create a team.  Part II discussed the various channel spaces within the team you created.  Part III  focused on meetings, managing your team, and apps.  Part IV is going to focus on Polly as well as briefly touch on chat, activity, T-bot, and search.

Polly

Polly is a bot that allows you to create polls.  It can be downloaded through apps and integrated into Teams as its own tab.  You can view the various polls you created, view poll results, and see who created polls once Polly is its own tab on the team channel you created.  To create a poll, go to the conversations tab on the team channel you created.  Once there, click in the “Start a new conversation.  Type @ to mention someone” field.  Enter @Polly and type in your question and poll options.  For example, “Do you like Microsoft Teams?  Yes, No” and hit enter.  Polly will then create the poll for you.    Keep in mind Polly cannot have more than five options as of right now.

Chat

Chat functions in much the same way as Skype for Business.  It allows you to directly chat with members of your team.  The member of your team who you are chatting with is the only person who is able to see what is being discussed.  Chat also gives you the option to audio and video call.  This option is located in the top right-hand corner of the chat you are within.

Activity

Activity keeps track of what’s going on within Teams.  Each new or unchecked activity will be highlighted in bold.  When you click on an activity, you will be directly taken to the section of Teams that it occurred in.  Activity also contains a filter option.  Filter allows you to sort by unread, mentions, replies, following, likes, missed call, voicemail, and apps.

T-Bot

T-bot is located within the chat location.  It provides answers to questions about using Teams.

Search

Search is just like it sounds.  It will allow you to search for anything that was mentioned within Teams.  It is located at the top of the application at all times.

This ends the series on Microsoft Teams.  Please check in next week as we delve into Microsoft Planner.  For more information, please submit a help ticket through the FIS portal.

 

Today continues a series of posts about Microsoft Office 365 applications that have recently become available to FIS customers.  The purpose here is to help you use these applications in a more efficient manner and make their first-time use much less imposing.  We are going to continue discussing Teams.   Part I discussed what Teams is, how to access it, and how to create a team.  Part II discussed the various channel spaces within the team you created.  Part III is going to focus on meetings, managing your team, and apps.

Meetings

Meetings is a clickable icon that is located in the sidebar on the left-hand side of Teams.  It allows you to schedule, edit, join, accept, decline and cancel meetings as well as view your Outlook calendar on a day to day basis. The meeting invites you send will come into an invitee’s Outlook inbox.  So it works in conjunction with Outlook.  To create a meeting, click the “Schedule a meeting” icon at the bottom of the page.  At this point, you will be able to enter the title, location, start time, end time, and details of the meetings.  To invite someone to the meeting, start typing their name in the “Invite Someone” field and they will appear in the drop-down below.  Once the meeting starts the interface is very similar to Skype for Business.  In fact, Teams Meetings will eventually be taking the place for Skype for Business.  Also, you are able to record your meetings in Teams.

Managing your team

Managing your team provides you with a wide variety of options such as: adding members, changing members role permissions, adding channels, adding a team picture, changing guest role permissions, etc.  To manage your team, click on the ellipses icon next to the team you created and select “Manage team” from the available drop-down options. This is where you can add members and change their permissions.  To add a member, click the “Add member” icon on the top right-hand side of the page, type in their name and click “Add”.  The other options manage teams provides is channels, settings, and apps.  Channels allows you to add channels and settings provides you with multiple options mainly involving permissions.  Apps will be discussed below.

Apps

Apps displays a list of programs that you have integrated with Teams.  A default set of applications is listed that is entirely organization based but you are able to add apps.  To add apps, click the “Go to store” icon located in the top right-hand corner of the page and select from a very large list of programs.  Apps can also be added as tabs to your team channels.  To add an app as a tab, go to the team channel you created (in previous parts of this series the channel is General) and click the “+” icon at the top of the page.  A list of apps will appear.  Select the app you want to add.  At this point, it will let you name the tab and add any appropriate content.

Thus concludes the third part on Microsoft Teams.  Please check in next week for the last part on Microsoft Teams.  For more information, please submit a ticket through the FIS portal.

 

Today continues a series of posts about Microsoft Office 365 applications that have recently become available to FIS customers.  The purpose here is to help you use these applications in a more efficient manner and make their first-time use much less imposing.  We are going to continue discussing Teams.  Part I ended with how to create a team.  Part II on Teams is going to focus on the channel spaces within the team you created.

There are three different channel spaces contained within the team you created.  The spaces are conversations, files, and notebook.  They are accessed by clicking on the team you created and selecting a channel (for example, General).  Once on the channel, the spaces are at the top of the screen.  The channel space we are going to start with is conversations because it is more than likely what you will use the most.

Conversations

Mainly, conversations allows you to live chat with other members of your teams.  If you want to address someone specifically with the teams conversations channel, type the @ symbol and a list of the various members of your team will appear.  Simply select their name and type in your message.  Everyone will be able to see the message but the person you specifically addressed it to will get a notification.  If you wanted to address your team members in a more formal way, you can use the formatting option.  The formatting option lets you add a subject to your message, change font options like color and size, and mark the message as important.  This would be useful for creating an announcement to your team.  You can also create announcements and mark them as important.  A few other less important but fun options conversations provides is the ability to add stickers, add  GIFs, and create memes.  Lastly, conversations contains a “Meet Now” icon.  Meet now works like a skype meeting.  You can record the meetings and save transcripts.

Files

The second channel space we are going to discuss is files.  Files is pretty self-explanatory.  It lets you create or upload documents.  If you are creating a document, it will open in the online version of the program you are using which doesn’t have all of the features of the locally installed versions.  However, the online versions are more than suitable to use when creating basic word documents, excel spreadsheets, and powerpoint presentations.  Once the document is created or uploaded, it is stored in the files channel space.  At this point, you can open it in SharePoint and a site will be created.

Notebook

Notebook usage varies based on the team you created. Since part one of this series advised that the team you are most likely going to want to choose is PLCs, the notebook usage example will be PLCs.  The PLC Notebook is essentially a digital three-ring binder that works in conjunction with OneNote.  OneNote within Teams functions as if the program was installed locally on your computer.  You are able to create sections which look like tabs in a binder and pages within those sections.  This feature could be very helpful when dealing with large projects that involve multiple meetings.  Each meeting could have its own section and the various things discussed can have their own pages.

Thus concludes the second part on Microsoft Teams.  Please check in next week to find out more about this exciting and useful application.  For more information, please submit a ticket through the FIS portal.

Today is the start of a series of posts about Microsoft Office 365 applications that have recently become available to FIS customers.  This series intention is to help you use these applications in a more efficient manner and make their first-time use much less imposing.  We are going to begin this series with Microsoft Teams.  Part I on Teams is going to focus on what it is, how to access it, and how to create a team.

What is Teams

Microsoft’s training demonstrations describe Teams as “A hub for teamwork that provides people with a single place to communicate and collaborate with others.”  It was created and designed with the express purpose of having everything customers need to perform their job function from a single application.  Listed below are many of the features of Teams:

  • Seamlessly integrates with Outlook
  • Access OneDrive without opening a new window
  • Access all of your OneNote folders
  • Collaborate in real time with Office Suite files (Excel, Word, PowerPoint)
  • Communicate in real time with colleagues
  • Streamline workflow by using a staff notebook
  • Links to other cloud storage

We will be getting into more detail of Teams features, but that list gives you a pretty basic idea of all its capable of doing.   As a result of all those functions, it can be overwhelming when viewing and using it for the first time.  Let’s start with possibly the most important and easiest part.  How to access it.

How to Access Teams

It can be accessed by going to portal.office.com, logging in with your Pitt credentials, and clicking on the Teams icon.  This will open up Teams in a browser tab.  A desktop version is also available.  It can be installed on the machine once the browser-based version of Teams is open by clicking on the “Get app” icon located in the bottom left-hand corner.  Once it is installed, the next step towards effectively using it is creating a team.

How to Create a Team

To create a team, select the “Teams” icon located on the left-hand side and click “Join or create a team” at the bottom.   Click “Create a team” and choose between Classes, PLCs, Staff Members, and Anyone.  The teams you are more than likely going to want to choose are either PLCs or Staff Members.  PLCs should be chosen when colleagues need to work with other colleagues.  Staff Members should be created by an admin or supervisor for employees that work for them.  Enter the name of your team, an optional description, and choose whether the team is public or private.  Private means only team owners can add members whereas public means anyone in your organization can join.  The last step is to add people to your team and make them either members or owners.  At this point, the team you created will appear within the Teams section with a channel titled “General” appearing underneath the name of the team you created.  Channels are a way to organize the team you just created.  For example, if you are working on a project that involves multiple tasks, you can create various channels associated with the specific tasks of the project.  To add a channel to a team, click the ellipses icon directly to the right of the team you created and select “Add Channel.”  Enter the channel name and an optional description.

Thus concludes the first part on Microsoft Teams.  Please check in next week to find out more about this exciting and useful application.  For more information, please submit a ticket through the FIS portal.

FIS is currently in the process of upgrading all of our customer’s operating systems from Windows 7 to Windows 10.  Many customers are already on Windows 10 and many others are being upgraded in the near future.  There are some cosmetic and functional differences between the two operating systems.  Just like any change, the differences can take some getting used too.  This article hopes to make the adjustment between the two operating systems smoother and better your understanding of Windows 10.

Let’s begin with the start button.  The biggest changes are the way you log off, lock, restart, and shut down the computer, and search for programs and commands.  To log off and lock the computer, click the start button and select the profile icon which is located directly above the start button two icons up.  To restart and shut down the computer, click the start button and select the power icon which is located directly above the start button.  To search for programs and commands, click the start button and just start typing in the program you are trying to locate.  Windows 10 does not have a search field like Windows 7 did.   A few other minor changes are that “All Programs” is now “All Apps” and “Printers and Devices” is now “Printers and Scanners.”

Aside from all those changes, you will also most certainly notice that it looks significantly different.  This cosmetic change is noticeable as soon as you log into the computer as the start button, taskbar, and notification pane all look different.  It also varies in appearance upon clicking the start button.

Another big change is Microsoft’s newest browser, Edge.  While Internet Explorer is still a part of Windows 10, Microsoft is trying to deliver a better web experience, hence the reason Edge was built.  It’s fast, compatible, built for the modern web, and optimized to perform on Windows 10.  For example, according to Microsoft, you can get up to 53% more battery life when you browse the web with Edge.  The Edge icon looks slightly different than Internet Explorer.  The Edge icon is a dark blue lowercase “e” whereas Internet Explorer’s icon is a light blue lowercase “e” with a ring around.  Lastly, Edge is a more secure browser than IE.

Speaking of security, Windows 10 is also an enhancement in that area compared to Windows 7.  It comes with a set of innovative and coordinated security capabilities designed for many of the sophisticated cyber threats that occur today.  You have advanced protection from viruses, ransomware, and malware because of Windows Defender (Microsoft’s antivirus program).  These settings are managed by FIS.

What is mentioned above is just a small sampling of Windows 10 and its differences between Windows 7.  To learn more about Microsoft’s newest operating system, please submit a help ticket via the FIS portal.

 

 

Home network security as defined by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team refers to the protection of a network that connects devices to each other and to the internet within a home.  With technology becoming more and more prevalent in our daily lives, it becomes increasingly important to protect against security risks.  This article hopes to better your understanding of the risks associated with being connected to the internet as well as the importance of properly securing your home networks and systems.

Most people are under the assumption that their home network will never be attacked.  This is a very common misconception for a couple of reasons.  Home users believe their network is not big enough to be at risk of a cyber attack, and they think the devices they are provided by companies such as Comcast and Verizon are plenty secure.    This line of thought is wrong and can be costly because attacks can occur to any network connected to the internet no matter the size, and the devices you are provided by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are preconfigured with factory issued settings such as default usernames and passwords that create opportunities for cyberattackers to gain unauthorized access to information, amongst other problems.

The good news is that there are ways to prevent these types of problems.  By improving the security of your home network, you can significantly reduce the chances of being successfully attacked.  The list below are ways to improve the security of your home network.

  • Regularly update software as the updates often include critical patches and security fixes for the most recent threats and vulnerabilities
  • Remove/uninstall unnecessary services and software to reduce security holes on a device’s system
    NOTE: This is especially important on new computers as they are often pre-installed with many software and application trial versions
  • Adjust factory default configurations on software and hardware because the configuration settings are created to be user-friendly and are not geared towards security
  • Install up-to-date antivirus software and make sure to enable automatic virus definition updates
  • Install a network firewall to block malicious traffic from entering your home network and alert you to any potential dangerous network activity
  • Install firewalls on network devices to inspect and filter a computer’s inbound and outbound network traffic
  • Back up your data on a regular basis to minimize the impact if your data is lost, corrupted, infected, or stolen
  • Enable wireless security by:
    • Using the strongest encryption protocol available
    • Changing the router’s default administrator password
    • Changing the default SSID (often referred to as the network name)
    • Disabling WPS (WiFi Protected Setup)
    • Reducing wireless signal strength
    • Turning the network off when not being used
    • Disabling UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) when not needed
    • Upgrading firmware
    • Disabling remote management
    • Monitoring for unknown device connections
  • Familiarize yourself with the most common elements of a phishing attack
  • Create strong passwords by:
    • Making the password long and complex
    • Creating a unique password for each account
    • Never use personal information within the password

For more information about home network security, please visit the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team website.

FIS is currently in the process of upgrading all of our customers from Office 2013 to Office 2016.  As is the case with almost upgrades, there are some cosmetic and functional differences between the two versions as well as some new features.  The information listed below hopes to better your understanding of Office 2016, highlight some of the differences between the two versions, and describe new features.

Differences between Office 2013 & Office 2016

All Office Applications

  • Color changes.  Each application’s ribbon is now associated with the program’s icon.  For example, the PowerPoint icon is orange so the ribbon will also be orange.
  • The “Tell me” feature.  This feature displays as a light bulb at the top of each Office program.  Click the light bulb and you can type in what you are trying to do in the program you have open.  It will not only show you how to do the task but will let you accomplish it directly from there.
  • Share.  The icon is located in the top-right hand corner of any Office application.  It lets you save to a cloud location such as OneDrive and invite others to view the file or edit it.
  • Six new chart types.  New chart types are box and whisker, histogram, Pareto, sunburst, treemap, and waterfall

Outlook

  • Ability to include attachments from cloud storage locations such as OneDrive.
  • Attachments can be included quicker and easier by clicking the attach file icon.  This lets you view all of the most recent documents you have accessed.

Excel

  • A previous add-in called Power Query, which can pool data to analyze from various sources, is now built directly into the application.
  • Time series forecasting functions.

PowerPoint

  • Screen recording.
  • Sharing has been made easier thanks to side-by-side visual comparison.

These are some but not all of the differences and new features associated with Office 2016.  For more information, submit a ticket through the FIS Portal.

 

 

 


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