If You Are Having Trouble Or Have A Computer Question
Contact the NDSU Help Desk @ (701) 231-8685 option 1
SPAM Messages Sending Out Macro Virus
Updated 9:01 AM, October 9th 2015
Over the last 2 days, numerous people at NDSU have been receiving a number of email messages from known friends and colleagues containing a .zip file attachment and a message encouraging people to view it. Working with folks from NDSU ITS and Microsoft, we now know that the file being sent out contained a new (also known as a 0day) macro virus called 097M/Farheyt.A.
Fortunately, most - if not all - of our Microsoft Office installations block macros by default and have helped prevent a massive infection throughout the organization.
At this time we are encouraging everyone, especially those who feel they could have been infected, to run a virus scan to identify and remove any potential threats from their computers. People can also use the Microsoft Safety Scanner if they are unable to use their current anti-virus for any reason. Please note the Microsoft Safety Scanner is not a replacement for a full-time anti-virus program and only detects viruses discovered within the last 10 days.
We also encourage people to be on the lookout for any message that appears to be suspicious. If you receive a message from someone you know encouraging you to open an attachment that you were not expecting, please contact that person to confirm it is legitimate before opening the attachment.
Here is an example of the email message we had been seeing at NDSU - please be aware that the sender and the name of the zip file vary from message to message.
If you happen to see this message or one similar, please exercise caution and to not open the attachment until you have confirmed it is a legitimate message.
Windows 10 Coming to NDSU in 2016
Updated 12:32 PM, June 26th 2015
Over the last several months, we have been working in partnership with the Microsoft Insider program to get advance copies of Windows 10 to begin testing in our computing environment, on our equipment and with our software. At this point it is clear that while Windows 10 may be ready for the home, we have a considerable amount of work to do to integrate it into our organization once its released. Depending on availability of the final release, we plan to begin final testing and configuration sometime this fall. At this point, we expect we will be able to start slowly rolling out Windows 10 sometime early 2016.
Not overly familiar with Windows 10? Take a look at our Windows 10 overview.
Windows 10 is Coming Soon and It's... Free?
Updated 8:22 AM, June 26th 2015
As you may or may not have heard, Microsoft is releasing Windows 10 on July 29. This means that on that date you can either purchase a copy of Windows 10, purchase a computer running Windows 10, or..... wait for it.... get it for free.
For those people currently running Windows 7 or 8.1 at on a computer or tablet at home (this offer doesn't apply to NDSU computers), you may have have noticed a small white windows logo in your system tray (next to the clock in the lower right-hand corner) on your computer over the last couple of weeks. If you click on it you will see a screen pop up encouraging you to reserve a free copy of Windows 10 now. This logo should NOT show up on an NDSU computer, if you see this white logo show up on your work computer, contact the Help Desk @ 231-8685 Option 1.
If you've been wondering what this is and if it is legitimate, rest easy. This notification was part of the last Microsoft security update bundle and is designed to encourage as many people as possible to switch to Window 10.
Is it really free?
For those of you that are receiving this prompt, signing up will indeed get you a free copy. The way it works is for those people who have signed up for a free copy of Windows 10, it will automatically begin downloading and installing itself once July 29 hits. In other words, it will do an automatic upgrade for you. However, as with all good things, there are limits. In order to get Windows 10 for free, you must be currently running Windows 7 or 8.1 on your device. You cannot reserve a free copy just because you own a copy of Windows 7 or 8.1 that has not been installed yet. You also have to reserve (and install) your copy of Windows 10 within 1 year of it being released. After that Microsoft is pulling their offer and you'll need to buy it at full retail price.
Incorrectly Configured Home Storage and Backup Devices May Be Giving Your Files Away
Updated 4:01 PM, April 10th 2015
Recently it has been reported by a number of online news sites that somehow, documents containing people's private data including tax records, personal photos, financial information and even passwords have been indexed by Google and are viewable with the right search criteria. The cause of this issue are network connected devices designed for home storage and backup. Also referred to as "cloud storage" devices, these inexpensive devices are in no way related to the enterprise-level cloud storage used on campus. While the on-campus cloud storage we use such as OneDrive and Google Drive are highly secure and safe to use, the problem with the inexpensive storage is that they are often confusing and/or difficult to secure properly. There is no standard to the types of options or interfaces used to secure these devices which makes it very easy to overlook a critical security setting.
You might be asking "Why is this important?" or "If the cloud storage on campus is secure, how does this affect us?". The issue lies with people looking to buy additional devices for their offices to perform backups or just store data in general. While this is a practice we highly encourage, when purchasing a device it is important to pay attention to its advertised features. An inexpensive external USB hard drive is generally a good choice as it connects directly to a computer with a cable. However, some drives (often using the word "cloud" in their name) and other storage devices offer features that give you the ability to access them from multiple computers or while away from the office. While this sounds good in theory, if it isn't secured correctly you may be inadvertently sharing your files for anyone online to see. If you're looking for a backup option but aren't sure what to look for or have questions about a model you're thinking of buying, please feel free to contact us. We would be happy to visit with you about the right backup drive for your needs.
If you already have one of these devices at work (or at home for that matter), we strongly recommend you visit the manufacturers website, download the latest copy of the user manual for your specific device and walk through the section on securing the device very carefully. If you still have questions after reading the manual, most manufacturers maintain some type of phone number, email address and sometimes even an online chat form to help you get it configured correctly.
Computer Order Form Now Online
Updated 3:08 PM, October 28th 2014
For those offices ordering computers that are NOT through the Extension equipment / cost-share program, we now have an order form online to help simplify the process. To use the form, click on the Computer Orders link on the left-hand side of the screen and fill in the requested information.
For those looking to submit requests for the Extension equipment / cost-share program, please continue to use the same procedure as before. Do NOT use this form!
Windows XP No Longer Receiving Security Updates From Microsoft
Microsoft finally ended support for Windows XP on April 8th 2014. What this means is that Microsoft will no longer put out any security updates for XP, leaving it vulnerable to any new security holes that may be discovered in it.
While we recommend replacing any old XP machines, you can continue to run them at your own risk. ACCS will be unable to assist with any type of support in relation to XP computers.
NDSU Staff Receive Phony Support Calls
Over the last year, there have been a small number of situations where someone at NDSU has received a phone call from someone claiming to be a representative of Microsoft (these were received on personal unlisted cell phones). In each case, the callers claimed that the individual's computer was infected and/or had major problems. They then convinced the victim to allow them to remotely connect to the computer in order to take a closer look. While each case ended differently, in at least one of the cases a person was scammed into purchasing an expensive piece of software that was unnecessary.
Any time a company calls you for information or computer access (and you didn't call them first), it should be a red flag that something may not be right.
If you happen to receive a phone call you believe may be a scam or if you believe you have been scammed, please contact the NDSU Help Desk. This is especially important if you have allowed someone on your computer as they may have made modifications or planted software on your computer to steal information.
Here is some additional information and a video of the scam in action:
Youtube video of the scam in action - be sure to turn up the volume, its hard to hear the caller