Sunday, December 9, 2018

A Good Year for Apple Hardware

This year has been a fairly extensive one in terms of updates and new releases from Apple. From the latest MacOS update “Mojave” to this year’s round of iPhone refreshes, the Cupertino-based company has served up a considerable number of new items for consumers to choose from.  I will highlight two that have greatly enhanced my personal workflow.

The first is what I call Apple’s most underrated product of the year—the MacBook Pro refresh.  It didn’t get a big Apple Event debut but came packed with new features—especially if you hadn’t purchased last year’s model. Eighth generation Intel processors, True Tone display, T2 security chip, updated graphics and a slightly-tweaked keyboard are all highlights packed into the MacBook Pro’s trademark aluminum chassis. As expected, the MacBook Pro continues its trend of releasing 13 and 15 inch models.  While I had never warmed up to the Touch Bar, these new models showcase the efforts developers have included over the past few years to bring out the features of the Touch Bar.  Add to that the capability of Touch ID and you have a device that feels incomplete without it.  And to top it off, “Hey, Siri” is now supported!

Unlike the MacBook Pro, Apple’s other winner did get a lavish debut this fall--the iPad Pro.  If you’ve previously used an iPad or iPad Pro—forget what you knew. Throw it out.  This third generation tablet is a complete refresh in every way including the overall look of the device.  It comes in 12.9 and 11 in models, but it’s smaller in size than previous generations.  The home button is gone, and the Liquid Retina display extends nearly all the way to the edge.  

iPad Pro
The iPad Pro (third generation)
Internals include a new superfast A12X Bionic processor and a TrueDepth camera with Face ID—yes, your iPad now recognizes you (similar to Microsoft’s Windows Hello tech).  For us digital artists, the iPad Pro has a new Apple Pencil, which has double tap feature for switching between brushes, erasers, etc.  Like the Surface Pen, the Pencil now magnetically attaches to the iPad—but it also CHARGES it.  No more strange connection sticking out of the bottom (see previous iPad Pro’s).  And while I’m not sure the full benefit of it yet, the new USB-C port is undoubtedly a move in the right direction.  And for those who want a keyboard, Apple's Smart Folio Keyboard attaches with magnets located across the entire iPad, providing a strong grip.  I went for the less expensive Smart Folio case which essentially provides protection from the front and back, but leaves the sides exposed.  Apple continues to proclaim the iPad can replace your laptop and while I'd be lost without my MacBook Pro and Surface Pro, the new iPad Pro takes a giant leap in that direction and with a few tweaks to iOS could become one's daily driver.

As I mentioned, these are only two devices that Apple launched in 2018.  Beyond the three iPhones, there was the Apple Watch and the long-awaited updates to the MacBook Air and Mac mini.  With semi-recent updates to the iMac, MacBook and AppleTV there are many worthy options available to you.  The best recommendation I can offer is to do your research and make sure you know how you're going to use your new tech in advance.

ESU students, faculty and staff get a discount on most of Apple’s hardware, so make sure to take advantage of that if you’re in the market for a new device.  


Brian Osbourn
Director, IT Web & Digital Strategies


Friday, December 7, 2018

Stay safe online this holiday season!

The busy holiday season is in full swing and between choosing gifts, baking cookies and keeping track of holiday activities, time just seems to fly by!

In all the busyness and rush, it is important to remember that the online world is just as active - who else ordered most gifts online? Sadly, this is also the prime time for cyber criminals who take advantage of our distraction.


Here at ESU, we work diligently to put new technical safeguards in place but we have also learned that the best defense against cyber criminals is you! So how do you stay safe online this holiday season?
  1. Lock down your login: Protect your online shopping, email, banking and other important online accounts. Create unique passphrases for each account and use multi-factor authentication whenever possible.
  2. Your information is like money. Value it. Protect it.: Monitor your financial accounts regularly and request a free credit report once a year. Learn more about identity theft prevention at identitytheft.gov.
  3. Keep clean machines: Only download trusted apps, software, and updates. Make sure your devices are free of viruses and malware before you shop. Keep up-to-date and download ESU's free antivirus software here.
  4. When in doubt, throw it out: Avoid links from unknown sources in emails, text messages, and on websites. Be especially cautious with emails about problems with your credit card or account or status of an online order. Report anything suspicious to the IT Help Desk at helpdesk@emporia.edu immediately.
  5. Do your research: Be aware of scams and ads that sound too good to be true. The Federal Trade Commission publishes a list of scam alerts here. Before you shop, research the websites you are going to use. Read reviews and pay attention to other people's experiences with the company. Pay special attention to the URL of popular sites. For example, criminals may create a fraudulent site called www.shop-amazon.com instead of the legitimate www.amazon.com.

 Keep your friends safe and share the Cheer to Safe Cyber Shopping tip sheet! Happy holidays :)

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The End of Microsoft Edge

News that Microsoft Edge's discontinuation is becoming apparent and the replacement will be a Chromium-based web browser. Today Microsoft CVP Joe Belfiore solidified these rumors by concluding this move will add "better web compatibility" and "less fragmentation" throughout the web.

This change to a Chromium base will ideally run and function better on Windows 10. For developer, this means they will have less cross-browser compatibility to worry about when building websites. Edge will advance faster with this change.

World wide implementation of the Chromium-based Edge web browser will appear sometime in 2019.

Donald Goode
Student Web Developer
Web & Digital Strategies

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

What You Need to Know About the Marriott Data Breach

Since the end of last week, you may have heard about the data breach involving the Marriott International Starwood guest reservation database. Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission released an alert to provide affected users with recommended actions.

Here is what you need to know:
  • The information exposed includes names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, passport numbers, dates of birth, gender, Starwood loyalty program account information, and reservation information of as many as 500 million customers. Payment information may have been exposed as well - while this data was encrypted, it is unclear whether intruders gained the ability to decrypt it.
  • The breach began in 2014 and anyone who made a reservation at a Starwood property on or before September 10, 2018 could be affected. Starwood brands include W Hotels, St. Regis, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, Westin Hotels & Resorts, Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts, and other hotel and timeshare properties.
  •  Marriott set up an informational website, https://answers.kroll.com, and a call center, 877-273-9481, to answer questions. Affected customers can sign up for free monitoring services. 

What does this mean for you?

There are some steps you can take in addition to using monitoring services.
  • Review bank statements and credit card statements regularly.
  • Review your credit reports and consider placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on your files.
  • Assume that your Marriott account password was compromised and change your password as well as similar passwords on all other online accounts.
  • Proactively check if you have been affected since the Starwood brand spans multiple hotel chains.
  • Scammers often take advantage of situations like this by posing as the company and emailing affected customers fake links. The safest way to check if you have been affected by the breach is accessing the website directly. Remember, Marriott will never ask you to provide your password via phone or email.

Did you know - December is National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month! Learn more about identity theft at https://www.identitytheft.gov

Friday, November 30, 2018

Be aware of the latest IRS email scam!

If you are an employee at ESU, you may have received an email from our Payroll department this week warning you of a new IRS email scam.

The IRS released a statement on November 19 warning the public of fraudulent emails impersonating the IRS. While similar scams have been used in the past to impersonate banks and other financial institutions, this particular email pretends to come from "IRS Online" and includes a malicious attachment called "Tax Account Transcript." The attachment carries a well-known malware and has a great potential to infect your computer.

It is extremely important that you do not open this email or its attachment. The IRS (or any other legitimate institution) will never send unsolicited emails to the public containing sensitive information, such as tax transcript. If you receive an email like that in one of your personal email accounts, you can delete or forward the scam to phishing@irs.gov.

If you receive this scam to your ESU email, please contact the IT Help Desk immediately at ext. 5555.

In honor of National Computer Security Day, follow our basic computer security tips found here!

National Computer Security Day!

November 30th is National Computer Security Day! Computer security is a vital step in protecting your accounts and information since your computer is typically your storage spot for everything. This is largely due to the fact that it's convenient and comfortable to you. Sometimes it being too comfortable leads to us not taking proper steps to ensure everything is secure. Therefore, the following are some quick tips on how you can secure your computer:

Have Antivirus Software

Start with running a scan for any form of spyware or malware. This will provide a fast and efficient way to make sure your device doesn't already have some form of malicious software harming it. If you don't have any installed and are a student or staff/faculty at Emporia State University, you can get a free copy of this software. To do so, simply go the help desk website and follow through downloading/set up.

Always Update

Next check to see if all of your applications and software's are updated. It's best to do this often, especially with apps, because of the constant updates being provided to you. This will allow you to find/schedule a time for your updates to complete on a regular basis. If they aren't updated, be sure to do this because updates tend to include better security or fixes to bugs. Overall, by updating your protecting and providing a better service to yourself.

Check Downloads

Finally, always check before completing a download. One way hackers target people is by inserting malicious software or viruses into downloads. These can be through emails, apps, or websites; therefore, new just assume because it's available to you it's safe. Always take a second to see who is providing the download to you and any suspicious signs. These signs could include misspellings, executable files (.exe, .bat, etc.), and the size of the download (too small or too big for what it should be).

Learn more by visiting hornet.emporia.edu and clicking on the "Information Security" tile. Finish the semester strong!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Cyber Shopping Tips!

With the holidays approaching fast it's important that we take the time to refresh our cyber skills. This is especially true with Black Friday and Cyber Monday being only a few days away. Each of these "holidays" are about taking advantage of great deals, but we need to make sure hackers aren't taking advantage of us while shopping. Here are a few quick tips for protecting your information while protecting your back account during this shopping season.

Check the Website

During this busy shopping season, it's important to check what sites your getting your deals on. Chances are you're clicking the sites with the best deals, but those might not be the safest ones to use. Always make sure you evaluate the reviews to make sure its a legitimate and safe site. One great source for authenticity is the Better-Business-Bureau. It will provide a rating and relevant reviews of the business.

Look for Https

One key step in making sure your information is safe when processing a payment is looking for https rather than http. Another way to check the security of a website is to look at the lock symbol to the left of your web address. If it is closed it is a secure site, if not be cautious about the information you put into the site. Since https is used when a site in secured and uses encryption to protect data, it is a protected site.

Watch for Scams 

Recently there has been news about a new form of phishing popular during the shopping season. This involves emails that appear to come from popular online shopping sites, like Amazon. They state that there has been an issue with your order and instructs you to click a provided link. This link takes you to a site designed to collect your information and then store it for the hackers use. Therefore, if you do have orders for that site go directly to the site to check the status of your orders.

Secure your Information

Finally, make sure your are taking steps to protect your information. This can be done through keeping complex passwords unique to each account. Make sure you don't save your login information to any device, since this can open your account to unwanted individuals. If possible limit what sites have access to your financial information, as this can protect you in cases of a breach. Simple checks and securities now can keep you from major issues later on.