New look IT Service Desk emails

We have designed a new streamlined look for the automatic emails sent out by the IT Service Desk. Several of you said you missed our emails as they didn’t stand out as anything important, or they weren’t laid out well so you couldn’t find the information you wanted easily.

The following screenshots show the new emails which will be coming shortly.

New ticket

Here is an example of the email you will get when you log a call.Screenshot of new ticket email

Ticket update

Here is an example of an email telling you about an update to your ticket. If you want or need to reply to the message, you can do this by clicking the “Track my ticket” button, which takes you straight to that particular ticket:

Screenshot of update ticket emailTicket completed

Finally, this is the ticket completed email, with a meaningful reason for closure (usually job completed). If you want to re-open the ticket or have comments to make, clicking the “Track my ticket” button takes you back to that particular ticket on the Self Service Portal.Screenshot of ticket complete email

Further information and contact

You can use the IT Self Service Portal to look up your ticket, add information and give us feedback, and we’ve highlighted this in the new emails with a “track my order” style button. We hope this will make it easier for you (and us) to provide you with an efficient service.

We welcome your feedback about the new email design, and would also like to hear from you if you have any suggestions about improving them. Please contact me via the Feedback section on the IT Self Service Portal, or you can email me directly.

World Password Day May 5th – Update your password!

World password day logo

World Password Day takes place on Thursday May 5. It was set up in 2013 as a day set aside for people to update and strengthen their passwords.

The average person has over 100 different passwords for various apps, websites, and online services. In practice most of us re-use the same handful of passwords, and ignore prompts to “update your password” until we are forced to do something. Unfortunately, there are an increasing number of people who will take advantage of this. 

What is the risk?

Password protection is one of the most important things you can do to safeguard your personal, professional, and sensitive data. Without a strong password, you risk:

  • Giving hackers easy access to your most sensitive accounts
  • Breaches to multiple accounts that share the same or similar passwords
  • Attacks by keystroke loggers who steal common login credentials
  • Loss of data through shared (and easily stolen) passwords

How do I make my passwords stronger?

Strong and secure passwords are crucial, especially now that most of our work is done online. Even if you have strong passwords, they need changing regularly as they may have been exposed in a data breach. The strongest passwords are:

  • At least 12 characters long
  • A mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special symbols
  • Not based on your username or other personal information
  • Unique to each account

Our Password page has some more guidance for creating a stronger password.

Further information and reading

As well as the Password page, DTS have several pages dedicated to Cyber Security, https://www.reading.ac.uk/digital-technology-services/cyber-security

For more general information about keeping yourself safe online, have a look at the National Cyber Security Centre website.

Intel, ARM and AMD chip scare (Spectre + Meltdown)

In the last few days Intel, AMD and ARM have publicly announced major security flaws within their CPU chips.  We are working with suppliers to patch our systems as quickly as possible to ensure they remain secure.

Security patches will be applied to your computer over the coming days. Never switch off your computer at the wall or the security patches will not be applied.

The University of Reading IT department will continue to monitor risk and will make updates when needed, however, please do remember to update your home machine. This flaw affects millions of institutions and businesses but will also affect households too. Full details of what the security flaw is and how to deal with it can be found on the BBC website, including how the flaw is exploited and how to keep your personal machine protected.

There has been no evidence that the flaw has been exploited yet but still poses a security threat.

Non managed Mac and Linux users should ensure that they have the latest versions of their OS and software in order to have the security patches applied.

A reminder of some good online security tips:

  1. Use strong passwords and do not share them
  2. Use central file shares or One Drive for Business in preference to local drives
  3. Never switch off your computer at the wall or the security patches will not be applied
  4. Lock/secure your hardware
  5. Encrypt sensitive and personal information
  6. Think carefully before clicking on links in emails, even from friends and colleagues
  7. Ensure that your anti-virus is up to date
  8. Ensure that Windows updates are applied promptly
  9. Keep software applications up to date
  10. Dispose of IT equipment and data securely
  11. Protect your mobile device

If you have any further questions or concerns then please contact IT.

 

15:27 01/04/16 Major power outage

There was a major power outage on campus this morning, affecting two key server rooms. This resulted in the loss of most of the IT services on campus.

The majority of services were restored by 14:00. Notable exceptions being;

  • Wi-Fi authentication
  • Campus card payment services
  • Trent
  • Sports Park web site
  • Network link to Cedar Farm
  • Some networking in Harry Pitt
  • Lyle building power – affects all servers hosted in this server room

 

Some services are running slowly due to re-synchronisation of the server storage. This should complete over the weekend.

There is a backlog of e-mail (incoming and outgoing) which is being processed.

Please accept our apologies for the disruption this has caused.

 

IT

Firewall Issue

We are currently trying to fix an issue with the Whiteknights campus firewalls, which can lead to occasional and very brief losses of connectivity to the Internet for users at Whiteknights and London Road campuses, and when accessing University business systems such as Agresso, RISIS and Trent.  There are some challenging circumstances, so it’s taking us longer than usual to get to the bottom of things.  We are working with our equipment vendor’s advanced technical support and engineering teams with a view to identifying feasible workarounds and a fix for the root cause as quickly as possible.

In order to assist with our diagnostics, and to help us accurately judge the business impact of this issue, it would be helpful if people could contact the IT Service Desk if they are unexpectedly disconnected from any of the University’s business systems during their day to day work. We routinely monitor the University’s Internet connectivity so at the present time do not need to be contacted regarding brief losses of Internet access.

As ever, please feel free to discuss any aspect of this issue with your IT Business Partner if you wish.

Slow Logins Issue

We have recently been experiencing problems with slow logins to some PCs on campus. We are working very hard to resolve this issue. Should you find your login is unacceptably slow (over 4 minutes), you should:

Contact the Service Desk immediately on 0118 378 6262, 6262 from an internal phone.
They will be able to provide you with details of a guest login account.
If required, restart the PC (hold the power button if necessary).
Login using the username and password supplied to you.

NOTE: The guest login will not map your N:\ drive automatically. The Service Desk will be able to assist you with this. You will still be able to access Blackboard and the Internet.

AV technicians are also able to assist with this particular problem.