Spring 2017 TECHtalk

TECHtalk Spring 2017

TECHTalk Spring 2017

2 Tapping into Information Security TECHtalk arrow down
4 Welcome to VIA Connect Pro TECHtalk arrow down
6 Meet our staff TECHtalk arrow down
7 Apps for fun and productivity TECHtalk arrow down
8 CUNY Excellence in Technology Winner, Jermaine Norris TECHtalk arrow down
9 Resources and information TECHtalk arrow down


Message from Ken Ihrer, AVP and CIO

Ken Ihrer AVP/CIOWelcome to the Spring 2017 issue of TechTalk – the OIT newsletter. As always, we have been very busy on your behalf making progress on many fronts.

In the Tech Center, we are in the process of building two state-of-the-art Active Learning Centers. These will provide our students with collaboration technology and are highly configurable. Faculty will be able to reserve these rooms for classes that require students to work in groups and collaborate using technology. Each center will support up to 35 students and contain seven interactive whiteboards where students can wirelessly connect to the displays, using the provided laptop/tablets, and work on class assignments together. The rooms will be outfitted with Steelcase Node desks that roll on casters so that they can be configured effortlessly in multiple ways according to your individual requirements.

The North Academic Center (NAC) will become our pilot location for a new classroom technology we are rolling out called VIA Connect Pro. No need to worry about bringing a VGA cable to display your material to your class. VIA Connect Pro lets you wirelessly connect to the AV system and play video content or display your presentation material from a laptop/tablet anywhere in the room. In addition, new laptops/tablets, which are equipped with a software application called Ink2Go, will allow you to annotate on top of any content you are displaying – even video. And you can save it for subsequent display. You can also bring up a whiteboard display to write on your laptop/tablet with your finger or a stylus.

These are only a few of the projects your OIT staff is currently working on. I hope the semester is going well for all of you. We, in OIT, look forward to continuing to provide excellent service to our students, faculty and staff. top

TECHtalk page2 Tapping into IT Security

More than 90 percent of cyber attacks start with email, and hackers are growing ever more sophisticated – from spear-phishing to whaling (see Box). Luckily, the OIT team at CCNY is always hard at work protecting your information security, and our latest effort in the mission to keep you safe is the deployment of Proofpoint’s TAP (Targeted Attack Prevention). This feature, which is yet one more reason to confine all your college-related business to the CUNY email system (see page 7 of our Fall 2016 TechTalk newsletter) detects, analyzes and blocks most advanced IT security threats before they can even reach your inbox.

Some malicious emails still get through but, when they do, TAP is able to spot when someone clicks on a malicious link and sends an alert to our Information Security team who will disable the compromised account within 15 minutes of notification. “Before that, people would call us after their machines had been totally taken over,” says Information Security Officer, Vern Ballard. “This new system means we can catch many of these malicious exploits as soon as they are triggered.” NB: the system only protects faculty/staff CCNY email accounts.

“It’s a great system. It not only tells you that the bad URL was clicked, it tells you how many times it was clicked and how critical the threat is,” says Information Security Analyst, Skiter Freeman. Furthermore, TAP then “learns” the bard URL and prevents future emails from getting past the server and into inboxes at all. If it does get through, it flags the site within the email as potentially malicious. Since its deployment, 23 malicious emails were detected in January; 18 in February; and six in March.

However, this does not mean you can afford to be lax in your “Information Security Hygiene.” Malicious attacks that do get through range from minor inconveniences – e.g., the need to reset your browser – to malware so bad a technician will have to reimage the entire machine: back up documents, erase the hard drive and reinstall the OS and user’s files – which can take several days.

“Trojan viruses are the worst because they are so hard to detect. If suspected, the clean-up team will usually err on the side of caution and reimage the machine,” says IT Security Analyst, Deon Hamer. “Plus, if we think it’s a Trojan, we warn users to check their credit and bank statements for charges they didn’t make.”

See our Fall 2016 TechTalk newsletter to read how one CCNY professor lost $2,000 of his own money in a Ransomware attack because he accidentally opened what he thought was a Word document (even though it came from an unknown sender) – assuming it was something from a contributor to his book. Even worse, his computer was connected to his backup system, which meant that it was also infected. And the emotional cost was almost worse than the financial cost. “I was having a heart attack,” says the professor.

“It used to be that you could identify phishing attempts, due to terrible spelling and other errors, “ says Deon. “Nowadays phishing attacks often look like they come from a trusted source and are cleverly targeted. For example, someone who deals with invoices in their job might have an email with a link labeled ‘invoice’ or the email may seem to have come from a good friend or colleague.”

“Something as simple as hovering your mouse over a link before you click will show you whether a link is bonafide or not,” says Skiter. “If you hover the mouse over it, and see itsceruty.com instead of itsecurity.com, for example, you are probably dealing with a malicious link.” Vigilance is key. “IT security is always a trade-off,” says Skiter. “The safer you want to be the harder you have to work at it.” And, as our CCNY professor found out, the alternative really isn’t worth it. top

   IT Security Analyst, Skiter Freeman cracks your cyber-security concerns

Brute Force attack Programs try a multitude of combinations until they eventually come up with your password.

Skiter says: The enemy of Brute Force is time. Make your password long (at least 10 characters or more), strong (a mix of upper and lower case, numbers, and symbols) and complex (use a phrase or an acronym of a sentence – e.g., OscyS, Oh say can you See plus numbers and symbols – and stay away from single words in the dictionary.

Drive-by download The downloading of a virus or malware on your computer or mobile device merely by visiting a compromised website.

Skiter says: Have two kinds of anti-virus software. Each might only detect 80 per cent of the threats but the intercept might catch over 90 per cent.

Malvertising Ads which contain malware to damage or disable your computer.

Skiter says: Don't click on ads. Period.

Man-in-the-middle attack Intercepts and possibly modifies emails being relayed between two people who believe they are securely communicating with each other.

Skiter says: Always use encryption to send sensitive information (passwords, SSN, birthdate, documents). Use strong passwords and make sure you keep your software up to date.

Pharming When you are routed to a convincing lookalike of a well-known site, even after you have correctly typed in the address of the site you actually want.

Skiter says: Hover over links (without clicking) to reveal the link and inspect it carefully.

Phishing An attempt via email to get you to provide sensitive personal data.

Skiter says: Remember, no one should ever be asking you for personal information via email. If they do you should never provide it.

Ransomware Read our Fall 2016 TechTalk Newsletter for more on these malicious programs that hijack and encrypt files on your computer and then demand a ransom to unencrypt it.

Skiter says: Make sure you regularly back up (and disconnect your external hard drive or cloud afterwards). Then you can simply restore to your last backup.

Scareware A program that displays a warning to download anti-virus programs, which then actually installs malware or viruses.

Skiter says: If a security program that you never installed pops up with a dire warning, that’s a clue. If it’s really, really hard to close the program or get out of the registration process, that’s another clue. At that point, switch off your computer and immediately call CCNY’s IT Security at ext. 6565.

Spear-phishing Like phishing but targeting a specific person and purporting to be from someone you know.

Skiter says: Beware of emails and phone calls that ask for credentials for file shares, as in: “Please log into your file sharing account and review the following proposal.” Beware of anything that says: “Follow the attached instructions to fix the issue as soon as possible.” Watch out for banking questions coming to an email address the bank shouldn’t even know saying: “There’s been unauthorized activity in your bank account. Click here to log in and fix the problem.” Always call the bank or other institution to verify.

Spyware A type of malware that tracks your actions and collects information without your knowledge.

Skiter says: Use multiple antivirus programs that work together (they don't always) and keep them up to date. You can download a free copy of Macafee the CUNY Portal eMall. Find out how to download Antivirus here

Whaling Phishing attempts on big fish targets (rampant in payroll departments).

Skiter says: Establish a verification process of transferring funds - e.g., use a two-factor authentication, such as a password and a text message to your phone. top
TECHtalk page 4 Welcome to VIA Connect Pro

The college community will be very pleased to hear that we are rolling out a new classroom technology called VIA Connect Pro. “We needed a modern and simple way to enable laptops and mobile devices to connect and present on displays without the need for cables,” says Nana Abeyie, Academic Technology Architect, who is the person responsible for bringing it to the college. “It’s very good for faculty because before they had to check out not only antiquated VGA cables, but the antiquated laptops to go with them. This technology has eliminated the need for any cables at all, which means people can bring their own more up-to-date - not to mention lighter weight - laptops and mobile devices and will no longer have to pick up cables from iMEDIA.”

VIA Connect Pro lets you wirelessly connect to the AV system, play video content or display your presentation material from a laptop, smartphone, or tablet anywhere in the room in real time, and allows up to four devices at a time on the main display.

New 2-in-1 laptops/tablets in iMEDIA are equipped with a software application called Ink2Go, which allows you to annotate on top of any content you are displaying – even on a running video – as well as bring up a whiteboard display enabling you to write on your laptop/tablet screen with a stylus or your finger. You can then save your annotations as image files or even record the entire session as a video for subsequent sharing.

Needless to say, everyone who has used VIA Connect Pro at City College is delighted with it. “Of course!” says Kelli Crosby, manager of the iMEDIA department. “It means they can work right from their own laptop, which is much more convenient.” Although, please note that if you are going to use your own laptop instead of iMEDIA equipment, you will need the Ink2Go software, which is available from the IT Service Desk or downloadable for faculty and staff from CCNY website.

The NAC building is our pilot locations for the rollout, as well as Steinman 161 and 207. It is already available in the OIT conference room in NAC 4/225 and we hope to have it in over 100 locations across campus during the Fall semester - starting with the NAC classrooms and expanding across campus to admin conference rooms and student facilitie - including the Writing Center and the Tech Center. top
Meet Our Staff Kelli Crosby Job Title Manager Department iMedia  At CCNY: 8 years

What’s your favorite geeky gadget?
My Samsung Galaxy Note 3. I like how I can multi-task on multiple applications all open at once.

What did you want to be when you grew up when you were a child?
Be the boss of my own business.

What did you major in?

What is the most useful thing you learned as a student?
To always take notes.

What do you like most about this job?
I like to help people as much as I can. Working at iMEDIA, it feels good to be to assisting the faculty and students on their different paths.

How did you get into working in the IT division?
I started as a College Assistant in 2008 and later became the manager of iMEDIA. CDs, downloads or vinyl? Music downloads, of course, are my favorite. I can always make them into a CD.

What is your favorite App?
My favorite app is the Transit App. I live by it before leaving the house.

What about working in IT has surprised you the most?
How often I find myself saying: “ Turn it off and turn it back on!” And it actually works.

What don’t people know about you that they might be surprised to hear?
I am a very shy person in front of people I don’t know.


What do you like to do outside of work?
Spend as much time as I can with my eight-year-old son.

What gadget do you wish someone would hurry up and invent?
A gadget that would blow dry hair to perfection in only five minutes.

If you could choose to do any job you want, what would it be?
I’d love to be a food critic. They have the best job, tasting different types of food all day. Amazing.

What do you think people will use to communicate with each other ten years from now?
People will use virtual reality to communicate with each other. Among other things, it would mean that nobody would have to travel for hours to interact with friends and family.

What is your idea of a perfect holiday?
The three F’s: Food, Family, Fun.

If you could choose a talent you don’t have, what would it be?
I would choose be ambidextrous.

If you could live in another country for two years, where would you go?
France - a breathtaking atmosphere with great shopping and good food.

What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Forgive a person who wasn’t sorry.

Is there anything you have wanted to do but haven’t?
Travel outside of the country. Yet! It’s on my bucket list. top

Meet Our Staff MuhammadAhmad Job Title Assistant Manager Department Client Services At CCNY: 7 years

What’s your favorite geeky gadget?
My iPhone 7. It can do everything I do on my computer. It’s very useful when I’m out in the field. I can troubleshoot issues; remote into my computer. It is a powerful tool. And it looks good

What did you want to be when you grew up when you were a child?
An astronaut. I was fascinated with space. I wanted to go to Mars.

What did you major in?
Business Management and Admin.

What is the most useful thing you learned as a student?
You can’t rely on the teacher alone. You have to put in effort to teach yourself as well.

What do you like most about this job?
The people I work with; the fact that I don’t have to do the same thing day in day out; collaborating across the different divisions. And I like getting management experience. It’s helped me become more analytical.

What gadget that you don’t already own do you wish you had?
A jetpack or a teleporter

How did you get into working in the IT division?
HR was running a career development program, and based on my interview and skills they placed me in IT.

CDs, downloads or vinyl?
Music downloads or CDs.

What is your favorite App?
Google maps to navigate through the city. The Zabihah App shows me the nearest halal food places.


What about working in IT has surprised you the most?
How quickly technology advances.

What do you like to do outside of work?
Travel abroad or to different places in the US. Meet different people.

What gadget do you wish someone would hurry up and invent?
A time machine. To see the future as well as what actually went down in history.

If you could choose to do any job you want, what would it be?
An entrepreneur.

What do you think people will use to communicate with each other ten years from now?
Communicating as holograms.

What is your idea of a perfect holiday?
Somewhere there are sights to see.

If you could choose a talent you don’t have, what would it be?
Cook like a pro and play an instrument.

If you could live in another country for two years, where would you go?
Dubai. They offer incentives like an apartment and car, and good pay. It is beautiful. Plus the food is great.

What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Go through college. Just to navigate all the choices. Now I advise my younger brother and sister so they don’t make the same mistakes I did.

Is there anything you have wanted to do but haven’t?
Travel the world. top

TECHtalk 7 Apps for fun and productivity

Daily WaterDaily Water The body is composed of about 60 per cent water in the form of body fluids – the purposes of which are to aid digestion, circulation, the creation of saliva, the flushing out of toxins, phlegm, the transportation of nutrients and maintaining body temperature. This handy little app will remind you to drink and count how many glasses you have had throughout the day.


Indeed JobsIndeed Jobs Half a million reviews, most of them 5-star, can’t be wrong. The Indeed app is one of the most comprehensive search engines for jobs, offering free access to millions of positions from thousands of company websites. Find jobs you like the sound of and then apply right from your phone.

WiFi Finder WiFi Finder This app – which allows you to download maps of places you are traveling to in advance, finds you hundreds of thousands of free Wi-Fi hotspots all over the world. The best thing is you don’t need to be connected to the internet to find the nearest hotspot – they are all stored locally on your device. Add your own hotspots as you find them.


NPR One NPR One Kind of like Pandora for NPR local station news and stories, NPR One gets to know what you like and turns itself into your own personal station. Tap the icon for the stories to start playing, then skip the ones you don’t like or tap the light bulb to say a story is interesting. Swipe over to “Explore” to find stories and podcasts recommended for you. You can even share interesting podcasts with friends by clicking the “Share” button.

Lastpass Lastpass Using the same password for each app and website that requires one is the fastest way to get hacked. But who can remember them all? Lastpass lets you keep all your passwords in one place and automatically generates new and strong passwords for you. You only have to remember one password. However, whatever you do, don’t lose it!


Box Box The free version of this app gives you 10GB of cloud storage to back up all your documents and photographs and music files. It allows you to share huge files with just a link, as opposed to annoying attachments, and – best of all – files can be viewed/listened to online without downloading anything, unless you want to. Leave notes and messages along with your files. For $79.99 a year get 100GB of storage and 5GB upload capacity. top

TECHtalk 8 CUNY Excellence in Technology Winner, Jermaine Norris

Congratulations to Jermaine Norris! Winner of the CUNY Excellence in Technology Award

Jermaine Norris and CUNY/CIO Brian CohenThe OIT is thrilled to announce that another one of our team, Jermaine Norris, has been awarded the CUNY Excellence in Technology Award for his outstanding work and customer service during the year. “In the past three years, Jermaine has become one of the most distinguished field technicians in the Client Services unit,” Says Vern Ballard, Director of Front Line Services and Information Security. “Jermaine is a trustworthy, innovative and passionate team leader, personally committed to making CCNY a professional workplace for faculty, staff and students.”

“It was great to get the award,” says Jermaine. “But in a way the write-up to get it actually meant even more. Half this job involves going above and beyond, and to have had that acknowledged meant a lot to me.” And since he joined us in October 2013, he certainly has gone above and beyond. One of the first jobs he undertook was implementing the disaster recovery and business continuity plan after a fire consumed a critical administrative area in the Office of Facilities.

“Although he was only a part-timer back then, he involved himself in every aspect of the plan, from conducting an item-by-item inventory of hardware for remediation and insurance purposes to meticulously accounting for the replacement of all hardware, software and data that had been lost,” says Vern. When a full-time position to support the state-of-the-art Center for Discovery and Innovation came up, Jermaine was a hands-down best choice within a competitive field of applicants and got the job.

In recent months Jermaine’s input has been invaluable in responding to a spate of ransomware attacks. He is also passing on his skills, teaching regular workshops in troubleshooting best practices.

“He’s a cross between an Eagle Scout and a Hollywood action hero,” says Vern. “Respected and trusted by colleagues, users and executives across the board, Jermaine is our fireman, our conductor, our shepherd and our ransom negotiator. We’re very proud and thrilled that he has been acknowledged by CUNY. He really deserves it.”  top ☐

TECHtalk 9 Resources and information

Thanks to the support of the Tech Fee Advisory Committee members at CCNY and the Tech fee funding this fiscal year (FY 2017), OIT has completed over 21 key projects, which have improved student life on campus. Here are just a few of them.

Wi-Fi Expansion and Upgrades
To accommodate the rapid increase in the use of the CCNY Wi-Fi, we have deployed an additional 53 WiFi access points (APs), and have acquired an additional 92 APs (waiting to be installed). Once all the access points are installed, it will dramatically increase the bandwidth and coverage across the entire campus.

Laptop Loaner Program for CCNY Students
A new Laptop Loaner Program is now available for matriculated CCNY students. The program offers 111 laptops (76 Dell Latitude and 35 MacBook Pro) with the latest technology, available for daily use on a first-come, first-served basis, Monday through Friday. All laptops are loaded with MS Office, Wi-Fi, Adobe Acrobat, as well as other CCNY-approved software such as Matlab, AutoCAD, SPSS, SAS, Adobe Cloud, etc.

iMEDIA Laptops Upgrade for CCNY Faculty Loan Program
In addition to creating a new laptop loaner program for CCNY students, we have also replaced all the outdated iMEDIA center’s laptops (35 laptops: 25 Dell Latitude and 10 MacBook Pros) available for faculty loan. These laptops are available to all CCNY faculty through our iMEDIA department, which is located in NAC 5/220.

General Use Student Computer Labs Mac upgrade
The operating systems of the computers in the Tech Center, Graduate and Student Life labs were upgraded to the newest version of Mac OS X 10.11. Print Management Software The printing software for the student computer labs was replaced to allow for improved management of print quotas, better reporting, and a simpler and more stable interface.

Print Management Software
The printing software for the student computer labs was replaced to allow for improved management of print quotas, better reporting, and a simpler and more stable interface.

Student Teaching Computer Lab Upgrades
Several student computer labs have been upgraded during the last several months:

  • One of the two School of Architecture CAD labs has been upgraded to a state-of-the-art “Sustainable Building Performance Lab” with 20 high-end workstation computers and a cutting edge thermal imaging infrared camera. This lab also supports Capstone student projects for graduate sustainability programs. The new lab will benefit research and teaching, and consolidate NYC’s leadership role in the area of energy at CCNY.
  • In the Artino General Mathematics Computer Lab Upgrade NAC 1/506 we replaced 24 obsolete computers, whiteboards, and the classroom projector and added the computers to the Active Directory. In Mechanical Engineering ST 226 and ST B39 computer labs, 10 new Dell OptiPlex 7040 MT desktops and two Dell Latitude E5470. The obsolete 10- year-old network switches and the network cabling (with Cat 6) in Lab ST 226 was upgraded. 50 licenses of SolidWorks have been upgraded and an additional 150 licenses have been added.

New Laptops for the newly-created online Clinical Intake Form
Three clinical support areas – AccessAbility, Counseling and Health – now have a unified online demographic and clinical form to ensure that accurate data on a wide range of issues affecting students, from chronic medical and disability issues to alcohol and drug use, mental health, homelessness and more is securely collected. It also provides the ability to track student outcomes based on their GPA.

Campus-Wide Digital Signage
Twelve large digital signage displays have been installed throughout campus in collaboration with the Offices of Facilities and Marketing & Communications. These are remotely programmed to broadcast pertinent information regarding campus events, deadlines, weather, alerts, class scheduling changes and cancelations, and campus bus schedules.

Computing and Printing Infrastructure for Students in the Division of Science
We have provided a new HP Designjet 36” poster plotter T790 to replace the 15-year-old printer in the EAS department, as well as a Dell OptiPlex Desktop 7040 SFF. We have also purchased and installed 20 software licenses for use by students performing assignments in several EAS courses involving the mapping and analysis of geospatial datasets.

Improved Computer Service for ChE Department Students – Citrix Server Upgrade
The Citrix virtual server assigned to the Chemical Engineering (ChE) students has been upgraded with additional hard drives and extra memory to minimize downtime and provide adequate resources during peak demand. These additional resources also provide a fail-over backup server to minimize downtime.

Symplicity Career Services Management System
OIT renewed the Symplicity contract from the Tech Fee budget. The Career Services Management System is the primary web-based operating system for the Career and Professional Development Institute, which enables CCNY students to access job and internship opportunities online. Users are now able to view and apply for employment and internship opportunities, regularly communicate with over 5,000 potential employers, host and deliver the Senior Graduation and six-month post-Graduation surveys, track student internship experiences, notify students, faculty and administration of any new opportunities, and receive career coaching

Art and Media and Communication Arts Departments Student Checkout Equipment
The Art and MCA departments received 30 iPads with accessories, two pocket projectors, one 360-degree camera to implement an equipment checkout system for all Art and MCA majors and minors (affecting a total of 1,175 students). This new equipment loan program operates on a first-come, first-served basis to students who use this equipment for assignments and presentations both in and out of class (e.g., for future employment). MCA also installed a FileMaker-based web checkout system to be shared and jointly administered by Art and MCA.

1Computer Lab Accessibility for Social Science SH – 105
The OIT has ibrought the Social Science Lab into compliance with accessibility laws by adding two new wheelchair accessible computer workstations (four new seats each workstation). To improve the quality of classroom instruction, and increase the class size capability from 27 to 35, obsolete seven-year-old computers were replaced with 36 new Dell OptiPlex 9030 SFF computers. Additionally, a smart podium with a workstation was installed to accommodate the instructor’s needs. This has significantly alleviated the waiting lists for students taking required courses, allowing more of them to stay on track for graduation.

NAC 6/325 Social Science AV Enhancement
With the support of the Office of Facilities and OIT, NAC 6/235 was reconfigured to install a new projection system, readily visible from all parts of angles of the room and equipped with the latest technology lamps, providing sharper images and more energy efficiency. In addition, video and recording equipment were installs to enable remote learning and conferencing.

School of Education Smartboard Upgrade
The School of Education has a proud history of leading the way on using emerging technology in classrooms and preparing students to use these tools effectively in the classrooms in which they are employed. In collaboration with OIT, six of the current 11 smart classrooms in the School of Education were upgraded with the newest smartboards technology, a faster desktop computers and the latest software version of Notebook uses with these smartboards.

Writing Center Collaborative Learning Initiative Upgrade
Four 65-inch digital displays have been installed in the Writing Center to allow students to share their laptop screens with other students. In addition, OIT deployed four VIA Connect Pros allowing students collaborate with each other by wireless present from their devices to the displays. top

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