It begins with an email looking innocently enough. You click on the link believing it is from a colleague or perhaps from your IT administrators. You are then taken to a site asking for your email address and password. This seems ordinary. After all, it seems like all websites these days require login information. What comes next is anything but ordinary. Your information has been stolen and is being used against both your organization and yourself.

These attacks are becoming more prevalent and sophisticated. So much so that October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Now in its 16th year, it is hosted every October by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance. According to fbi.gov, multiple agencies, including the FBI, collaborate to raise awareness about cybersecurity and stress the collective importance and effort to stop cyber intrusions, online thefts, and scams.

Pitt and FIS are no different. We go to great strides to protect the university’s financial information and educate our users on security awareness. Take, for example, the annual security awareness training videos that all connected computer users take as well as CSSD’s fake phishing attempts.

The security awareness training must be completed by all users who log into a FIS machine. It is a series of interactive videos that will test your knowledge of various subjects at the end of the video. After completing the training, you can print a certificate validating that you completed the training. Security awareness training needs to be completed annually. However, every subsequent training is a refresher course and is less robust than the initial training. While this may seem a bit excessive, the numerous attacks that have occurred over the past few years at many corporations most definitely prove otherwise.

Those attacks and the information obtained as a result of them are the reason CSSD sends out fake phishing emails. The latest phishing attempt was an email sent from “Message Center admin@webaccess-alert.com” and was titled Incoming Emails Rejected. The message was simple enough. It contained your email address, an understandable explanation of why the emails were rejected, and a link to retrieve the emails. These are some of the most damaging and common attacks.

With all of that in mind, here are some cyber safety tips the FBI highly recommends.

  • Examine the email address and URLs in all correspondence. Scammers often mimic a legitimate site or email address by using a slight variation in spelling.
  • If an unsolicited text message or email asks you to update, check, or verify your account information, do not follow the link provided or call the phone numbers in the message. Go to the company’s website to log into your account or call the phone number on the official website to see if something does, in fact, need your attention.
  • Do not open any attachments unless you are expecting the file, document, or invoice and have verified the sender’s email address.
  • Carefully scrutinize all electronic requests for a payment or transfer of funds.
  • Be extra suspicious of any message that urges immediate action.
  • Confirm requests for wire transfers or payment in person or over the phone as part of a two-factor authentication process. Do not verify these requests using the phone number listed in the request for payment.

If you have questions, feel free to submit a ticket through the FIS Service Portal.

We are pleased to announce that Nick Contis has joined FIS technical services from the University’s Facilities Management department, effective August 5th. Nick will be joining our Applications team as a Business Analyst. His responsibilities will include application development, code review and third-party system support.

Nick obtained both a Bachelor’s and Masters of Information Sciences from Pitt. He has spent the last 23 years technically supporting and developing applications and databases for Pitt’s Facilities Management department. Nick’s experience and knowledge will make him a valuable asset to our Applications department. Nick will be located in 1900 Cathedral of Learning and will report to Carol Zielinski.

Nick was born near Washington, PA. He currently lives in Whitehall with his wife, Karalyn, and their dog and two cats. He is an avid traveler who greatly enjoys dining out at various establishments during his travels. His favorite restaurants across the US that he has encountered thus far are In-N-Out Burger (West Coast), Molly’s Cupcakes (Chicago), 50’s Prime Time Cafe (Walt Disney World), The Cheesecake Factory (various cites throughout the US), Top of the World (Stratosphere Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas), The Buffet (Bellagio Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas), and Yokoso (Waterfront, Pittsburgh) for Tuesday Sushi Tsunami. Aside from traveling and dining, Nick also really enjoys photography, cooking, and baking.

Please join me in welcoming Nick to FIS and the Technical Services team!

We are pleased to announce that Justin Eidenmiller has joined FIS Technical Services from the University’s Facilities Management department, effective August 5th. Justin will be joining our Operations team as a Support Analyst. His responsibilities include analyzing and troubleshooting technical support requests, user documentation creation, customer training, and ITIL process management.

Justin graduated from DCI Technical Institute and is currently working on obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Information Science while simultaneously working. Additionally, he spent the last three years technically supporting Pitt’s Facilities Management department. His experience and knowledge will make him a valuable asset to our Operations department. Justin will be located in 1900 Cathedral of Learning and will report to Carrie Armstrong.

Justin was born in Ellwood City, PA which is located about an hour north of Pittsburgh. He currently lives in Millvale, PA with his fiance, Jocelyn. In his spare time, Justin enjoys biking and is really involved in photography. Feel free to check out his excellent work at his website. His favorite restaurant is a hot dog shop located in his hometown called Red Hot. If he could do anything other than technical support, Justin would like to be a pilot.

Please join me in welcoming Justin to FIS and the Technical Services team!

We are pleased to announce that Barry Limppo has accepted a full time Senior Systems Administrator position in FIS Technical Services effective July 29th. His primary responsibilities include systems administration of our desktop, client virtualization, cloud-based, and mobility technologies.

Over the past year, Barry has worked as a temporary contractor for FIS. The experience and knowledge gained during his tenure as a contractor has already made him a valuable asset to the Operations group. Barry will be located in 1900 Cathedral of Learning and will report to Anthony Digregorio.

Barry is another Pittsburgh transplant. He was born in Hollywood, Florida but moved to the Harrisburg area when he was two years old. He moved to Pittsburgh after meeting his wife, Jennifer, about six years ago. The two of them have a five year old son named Mason.

Barry really enjoys spending time with his family, attending concerts, travelling, and working on various projects around his house such as woodworking. Another one of his many life enjoyments is reading to his son before bedtime. If he could work anywhere other than FIS, he would love to be the owner/operator of a brew pub.

Please join me in welcoming Barry to FIS!

We are pleased to announce that Martin Brule has accepted the Operations Engineer position in FIS Technical Services, effective June 24th, 2019. His primary responsibilities include but are not limited to systems administration of our client virtualization, cloud-based, and mobility technologies.

Martin graduated from Pennsylvania College of Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree in Data Communications and Networking. For the past several months, Martin has worked for FIS as a temporary contractor. His experience and knowledge will make him a valuable asset to the Operations group. Martin will be located in 1900 Cathedral of Learning and will report to Anthony Digregorio.

Martin recently moved from the home of the Little League World Series, Williamsport, Pennsylvania. He is currently living in Beechview, PA with his significant other, Janelle, their daughter, Emma, and their four cats (Ninja, Pause, Matu, and Fau). In his spare time, Martin enjoys playing music such as guitar, bass and some drums. He also enjoys outdoor activities like fishing, camping, biking, and inline skating.

Please join me in welcoming Martin to FIS and the Technical Services team!

With Internet Explorer quickly approaching it’s end of life as a browser option for FIS customers (tentatively scheduled for the end of 2019), it’s worth exploring Microsoft’s latest web browser, Edge.

Edge is not new. It was introduced in 2015 when Microsoft launched Windows 10. While many people’s initial reviews were not positive, it has since grown into an accomplished internet tool that is worth consideration to be used as your default browser. This is not to say that you have to use it over other excellent internet browsers such as Google Chrome and Mozilla FireFox. This article’s mere intention is to better inform you of the various notable features of Microsoft Edge, and to help you make an informed decision about potentially changing your default browser.

The first and probably the most important feature to the majority of people that we are going to cover is speed. Performance tests indicated that Edge is more or less just as fast as its competitors, Chrome and FireFox. It is significantly faster than it’s predecessor, Internet Explorer.

The second notable feature is that Edge is designed to work as a companion to Windows 10. If a web search is run from the taskbar, the results will appear in Edge even if your default browser is something different. Also, websites can be easily pinned to the taskbar and Start Menu from within Edge. This integration is associated with other Microsoft products as well.

Edge offers some unusual and appealing features as well. One of these is built-in sharing. Share makes it easy to transfer contents from your browser to nearby devices. The share icon is located in the top right-hand corner of Edge and is an arrow pointing to the right.

Another unique feature is the ability to scribble or annotate on the websites you visit. This feature can be accessed by clicking the icon that looks like a pen in the top right-hand corner. Once accessed, you can highlight text, and draw and write content on the page. You also have the ability to save and share the notes you made.

If you open a lot of tabs during the course of your day, Edge’s tab preview feature will benefit you quite a bit. Tab preview is accessed by clicking the chevron icon which is located next to the new tab icon. Edge will display a preview of the open tabs through a panel that is docked at the top.

The last feature we will mention is the ability to sync Edge across multiple devices. Microsoft have versions of Edge for both iOS and Android. This allows you to sync your bookmarks, passwords, browsing history, reading list, and tab layout to your phone or tablet.

The features listed in this article are but a small portion of what makes up Edge. To learn more about Edge and it’s myriad of features, please submit a help ticket through the FIS portal.

The heart of winter has arrived and as usual temperatures across the Northeast and Midwest have plummeted.  Just a few weeks ago, wind chills in the greater Pittsburgh went below zero degrees F.  It can be excruciating to stay outside for more than five minutes when temperatures dip that low, but many of us at the University of Pittsburgh have to brave the weather in order to make it to work due to a lack of parking spots in Oakland.  Of course, this is nothing new.  What is new, relatively speaking, is the technology that makes our morning commute in the harshness of winter more tolerable.  Unfortunately, technology loses functionality when temperatures drop below freezing.  This article’s intention is to inform you of what to expect from the various components of your devices and how to better manage them in the extreme cold.  After all, there isn’t anything that makes a commute to or from work much worse than having your devices fail while waiting for public transportation.

What to Expect

Batteries

Batteries are by far and away the most likely part of your device to fail in the cold.  This is problematic because almost every device we use is powered by lithium-ion batteries.  Lithium-ion batteries are the industry standard for personal electronics because they have high energy density and have the ability to handle both low and high currents.  These are good properties to have in a battery.  However, those same properties run into problems when temperatures dip below 32 degrees F.  The reason is because lithium-ion batteries have very little internal resistance.  Less resistance means these batteries generate less waste energy heat.  In general, this is a positive attribute to have in a battery.  However, the absence of waste energy heat means the battery is more vulnerable to cold temperatures.  In other words, the colder it becomes, the chemical reaction that occurs inside the battery gets slower.  This means the battery drains faster. Smartphones, in particular, are vulnerable to this problem because they are designed to sit mostly inactive for long periods of time throughout the day.  What this means is that their batteries do not draw enough current to heat themselves.

The performance of individual products will vary based on the manufacturer, battery model, and wear and tear on the device.  According to Apple, you should use iOS devices where the ambient temperature is between 32 and 95 degrees F.  The Amazon Kindle Oasis user guide states the same temperature range for its operating temperature.  The FitBit Charge 3 manual lists an operating temperature range of 14 to 113 degrees F.  Samsung’s Galaxy S9/S9+ user guide does not give an operating temperature range.

Screens

While batteries are the main component most likely to have issues in cold weather, LCD (liquid crystal display) screens also run into problems.  These screens are in most of the devices we use.  LCDs consist of a layer of millions of multicolored pixels.  Each one of these pixels is controlled by a separate transistor.  The pixels are switched on or off electronically using liquid crystals to rotate polarized light.  While this sounds complex, the main thing to take away from this is that the technology gets sluggish when it gets too cold.  Just like batteries, the colder it gets the slower the response is from the signal to pixel transition.  This will lead to the image on your screen becoming blurry.

Sensors

The last component that is affected by extreme cold are the sensors within the devices we use.  The sensors are designed to collect a wide variety of information from where we’re going to how many calories we burned in a day.  Basically, sensors track the orientation of the device you are using and how fast it’s moving through space.  This is crucial for navigation applications, telling time, and logging activity goals.  Like the previous two components, sensors’ performance decline when temperatures fall.  The main issue with degrades in a sensors’s performance is accuracy.  If you were to take off a digital watch and wave it around in the cold, you could very well lose seconds if not minutes of your day.  The reason for this is because the sensor, which is located on the backside of most digital watches, is calibrated to 98.6 degrees F.

How to Manage

Quite simply the easiest way to manage your device in the cold is to not use it.  That being said, there are times when you have to use a smartphone in the cold.  If that is the case try and store your device as close to your body as possible.  Simply putting it in a backpack or purse does not suffice.  Also, try and keep your time outside using the device to under 5 minutes.  Carrying a smartphone in temperatures colder than -35 degrees F will kill it completely in five minutes.  If your device does freeze, do not try and charge it will it is still cold.  Make sure it is at room temperature before recharging it.  Ignoring this advice can potentially do permanent damage to the battery.

After months of waiting, Samsung has just started rolling out its latest Android 9.0 Pie-based OS update for the Galaxy S9, Galaxy S9+ and the Galaxy Note 9.  This update, which Samsung calls One UI, brings a large variety of new features and an updated look to their most popular devices.

One UI is bringing a more minimal design to their Samsung Galaxy phones interface with a focus on reducing clutter on the screen.  It does this by effectively splitting the display in half and paring down the amount of information shown.  The top half of the screen will be used for viewing content while the lower half of the screen is for interacting with the device.  This means all the key tabs, action buttons, and pop-ups will all be placed in the bottom half of the screen.  Also, when a user opens apps on their phone, it will only show the content and functions that are needed rather than displaying all of the information at once.  Samsung is also making changes to Night Mode.  Night mode will now allow the user to make adjustments to the screen’s tone, brightness, and contrast.Samsung claims all of this is being done to make it easier to navigate larger screen phones.

To turn split screen on click the Recents button in the bottom left-hand corner.  Next, click the Ellipses icon in the top-right and select Settings.  In Settings, make sure use Recents and Allow Pop-ups are toggled to on.

Some other new features are:

  • Improvements to the front-facing camera such as brightness of faces in backlit conditions
  • Overall better device security
  • Overall stability of functions
  • Improvements for the front-facing sensor.  Samsung did not go into great detail about the improvements.

If you own a S9, S9+, or Note 9, there is a way to check and see if your device is ready for the update.  Go to Settings and tap the Software Update button.  Your phone will check to see if an upgrade is available.  If it is available, you should see the option to install 9 Pie (Android’s name for the update).   The update requires having over 1 GB of free space on your phone.

 

 

Apple has allowed its customers to set up two-factor authentication for their Apple ID.  Two-factor authentication is an extra layer of security for your accounts that is designed to ensure that someone else simply knowing your password is not enough to gain access to your account.  Pitt employees should be very familiar with this as the login process for my.pitt.edu uses dual authentication.  This article’s intention is to explain how Apple’s two-factor authentication works, how to set it up, and how to manage your account it’s set up.

How it works

Your Apple ID can only be accessed on devices you trust and trusted phone numbers.  A trusted device is an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 9 and later, as well as a Mac with OS X El Capitan and later that you’ve already signed in to using two-factor authentication.  This will make the device known and can be used to verify your identity by displaying a verification code from Apple when you sign in from a different device or browser.  A trusted phone number is a number that can be used to receive verification codes by text message or automated phone call.  You must verify at least one trusted phone number to enroll in two-factor authentication.

When you sign into a new, trusted device for the first time, you will need to provide two pieces of information.  The two pieces of information are your password and the six-digit verification code that’s automatically displayed on your trusted devices.  The verification code is a temporary code sent to the trusted device when you sign in to a new device or browser with your Apple ID.  Entering the code verifies that you trust the new device.

For example, if you already have an iPhone and are signing in to your Apple ID for the first time on a newly purchased Mac, you will be prompted to enter your password as well as the verification code that’s automatically displayed on your iPhone.  This means that if someone was trying to access your Apple ID, they would need to know your password and physically obtain the device you registered as trusted.

A few things to note from the example provided above.  Once you signed into your newly purchased Mac, you will not be asked for a verification code on the device again unless you sign out completely, erase the device, or need to change your password for security reasons.  If you sign in on the web, you have the ability to choose to trust your browser, so you will not be asked for a verification code the next time you sign in from that computer.

How to set up two-factor authentication for your Apple ID

An important thing to note before we get into setting up two-factor authentication, once it is on, it can only be turned off within the first two weeks of enrollment.  To turn on two-factor authentication on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, follow the steps below.

Turn on two-factor authentication

If you are using iOS 10.3 or later:

  1.  Go to Settings.
  2.  Tap <your name>.
  3.  Tap Password & Security.
  4.  Tap Turn On Two-Factor Authentication.
  5.  Tap Continue.

If you are using iOS 10.2 or earlier:

  1.  Go to Settings.
  2.  Tap iCloud.
  3.  Tap <your Apple ID>.
  4.  Tap Password & Security.
  5.  Tap Turn On Two-Factor Authentication.
  6.  Tap Continue.

Enter and verify your trusted phone number

  1.  Enter the phone number where you want to receive verification codes when you sign in.
  2.  Choose to receive the codes via text message or automated phone call.
  3.  Tap Next.
  4.  A verification code will be sent to the phone number you provided.
  5.  Enter the verification code to verify your phone number and turn on two-factor authentication.

How to manage your two-factor authentication account

You are able to manage your trusted phone numbers, trusted devices, and other related account information from your Apple ID account page. To view and manage your trusted devices follow the steps below.

  1.  Go to your Apple ID account page.
  2.  Sign in with your Apple ID.
  3.  Go to the Devices section.

The device list that will appear shows the devices that you are currently signed in to with your Apple ID.  On this screen, you can view the model, serial number, and other useful information such as whether or not the device is trusted.  You are also able to remove a trusted device from this page.

For more information about Apple ID Two-Factor Authentication, please submit a ticket through the FIS portal.

 

 

 

 

 

Last week, Apple held its second keynote in two months.  The first press event that was held in September unveiled the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR.  Last week’s announcement, while not as splashy and exciting as a new iPhone reveal, centered around the new iPad Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac Mini.  This article’s intention is to get you up to date on Apple’s latest releases and changes.

iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR

The iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR phones are updates to last year’s iPhone X, 8, and 8 Plus.  The XS retains the same familiar, cosmetic design of the iPhone X.  This includes the 5.8-inch OLED display and stainless-steel sides. Its battery life should last about 20 hours.

The XS Max is a larger version of the XS.  The OLED display is 6.5 inches, making it the largest display found on any iPhone. Its battery life is slightly larger than the XS as it should last about 25 hours.  Both the XS and XS Max come in silver, space gray, and gold.

While the XS and XS Max are similar in style to last year’s iPhones, the XR is a cosmetic departure.  The iPhone XR has a 6.1-inch LCD display and an aluminum and glass body.  It comes in white, black, coral, yellow, blue, and red.  The XR has a single rear camera whereas the XS and XS Max both have dual rear cameras.

All three phones come with a new A12 Bionic processor that Apple claims is 15 percent faster and uses 40 percent less energy than last year’s A11 chip.  They all use wireless charging, are water-resistant, and no longer feature a headphone jack or home button.  Lastly, all three are now using Face ID unlock software.

iPad Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac Mini

The new iPad Pro is 5.9 millimeters thinner (about 15 percent) than its predecessor.  It no longer features a headphone jack or home button, meaning you will need to swipe certain spots on the screen to get back to previous pages.  The iPad Pro also features nearly an edge-to-edge display and rounded corners.  It now supports Face ID and USB-C.  With USB-C, it can now connect to monitors up to 5K so that you can turn into a workstation.  It is also capable of charging your iPhone and comes equipped with an Apple Pencil.  The iPad Pro’s Pencil magnetically connects to the side of the device and automatically charges.  It is available in two sizes, 11 and 12.9 inches.  All of these new features has Apple calling it the biggest change to the iPad since its inception eight years ago.

Apple also made redesigns to the MacBook Air.  It is 25% lighter than previous iterations weighing in at 2.75 pounds and 13.3 inches.  The cosmetic changes go beyond weight though.  The familiar aluminum bezel has been removed making the MacBook Air’s borders sleeker, and for the first time ever, its base is made out of 100 percent recycled aluminum.  According to Apple, this helps reduce the computer’s carbon footprint by 50%.  Aside from Apple’s efforts to make the MacBook Air more eco-friendly, it now features a more responsive keyboard.  The most noticeable absence is the TouchBar feature that was introduced two years to mainly universal criticism.

Updates were also made to the Mac Mini.  These are the first updates to it in four years.  While still looking strikingly similar to the last model, the Mac Mini comes equipped with a quad-core Intel processor with an option to upgrade to a six-core version.  It features four USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports and an HDMI port.  Apple states it is five times faster than before.

If you wish to learn more about all of Apple’s exciting new products, please submit a ticket through the FIS portal.


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