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September 2017 ITS Newsletter Header

Equifax Data Breach: What You Should Know

The recent data breach at Equifax has resulted in a number of questions from concerned individuals around the country, including the MSU Denver community. To help clarify the scope and importance of this data breach, the ITS Information Security team has prepared the following quick reference: 

  • Who was affected by this breach?  143 million Americans.
  • What was exposed?  143 million Social Security numbers. Hundreds of thousands of credit card numbers and other information was also exposed.
  • Where did this breach occur?  Equifax, one of the three primary credit reporting agencies in the United States, was targeted by hackers. Preliminary investigations indicate that the attackers exploited vulnerabilities in the Equifax website to gain access to the data. 
  • When did this occur?  The breach was discovered on July 29, and announced to the public on September 7th, 2017.  Unauthorized access to consumer data likely occurred between May and July 2017.
  • Why is this such a big story?  The type of data that was exposed is incredibly sensitive, and is likely to be used for fraudulent activities. Unfortunately, prevailing opinion that Equifax’s response has been slow, unprofessional, and incomplete is compounding concern rather than mitigating it.

While there have been numerous breaches where millions of email addresses and passwords have been exposed, passwords can be changed with very little effort. Driver’s licenses and credit cards can be reissued, but at no small effort or cost.  Social Security numbers are very rarely changed, and at a great deal of effort.  Other sensitive information that was exposed cannot be changed. 

Many people are asking what they should do in response to this incident.  The website has good recommendations at

More details about this event are available online, including the following:

Telephony Initiative Update: Moving on to Wave 2

The ITS Telephony Implementation Team recently completed Wave 1 (Central Classroom, West Classroom, Plaza, and Arts buildings) of the telephone deployment initiative and began Wave 2 efforts in the Admin, Science, and Tivoli buildings. Wave 2 is scheduled to be completed by Sept. 29. If your office is located in one of these buildings, and you would like information about what you need to do prior to receiving your new telephone, please watch the entertaining and informative What's Needed From You? video. It provides helpful information about preparing your workspace prior to the telephone deployment in your department.

If you’ve already received a new phone, it is recommended that you:

  • Change the greeting on your old phone number to inform callers that you have a new number. This message will remain on the AHEC phone system through December 1, 2017.
  • Set your old phone number to not accept voicemail messages.
  • Update your profile in Banner with your new phone number.

The First Steps webpage provides instructions for completing the steps above. You can also find helpful information about how to use your new phone at and general information about the project on the Telecommunications Initiative webpage.

Experience an Exciting New Interactive Flavor of Professional Development at TLTS 2017

Faculty and staff are invited to register for the 6th annual Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium (TLTS) to be held Friday, October 13, 2017, on the Auraria Campus, hosted by the MSU Denver Educational Technology Center. This year’s symposium is unique: instead of a traditional session and track-based event which is passive in nature, TLTS 2017 will challenge you to think critically, work collaboratively, and take an active role in shaping the event. In a single day, attendees will collaboratively to Discover, Frame, Imagine, Prototype, Engage, and Reflect upon unique solution designs focused through the lens of one of three interest groups: Creativity & Design, Equity & Social Justice, or Leadership & Vision.

To learn more visit (space is limited and registration closes September 22, so register today). 

RSVP to Attend or Apply to Compete in PitchLX!

What would Shark Tank meets TEDx look like in Higher Ed? The ITS Educational Technology Center (ETC) has been cultivating a collaborative network of partnerships in support of Prospective Innovations in Teaching and Learning Xperiences (PitchLX), to breed innovative thinking and cultivate ideas that meet the ever-changing expectations of students.

Open to all higher education professionals, and driven by a live pitch-off event on Thursday October 12, PitchLX will bring together a broad range of participants to deliver pitches for existing or theorized innovative ideas which have the potential to significantly shape the future of teaching and learning with technology. Following each pitch, a panel of expert judges will conduct a live Q&A/critique and award points based on feasibility, creativity, sound pedagogy, and overall delivery. Resources will be invested in winning pitches, so innovative thinking and preparation are highly encouraged.

To learn more visit (space is limited and registration closes September 22, so register today).

Submit your pitch at or confirm your RSVP to attend.

Announcing New Academic Technology Tools

The ITS Educational Technology Center recently implemented the following new tools that are designed to support and enhance teaching and learning at MSU Denver:

VoiceThread provides an easy way to create dynamic, asynchronous conversations to help enhance student engagement and collaboration. With VoiceThread, instructors and students can share and discuss information using their voice, images, video and text. And it’s easy to implement, because it already integrated into Blackboard Learn. To learn how to use VoiceThread, register for a free informational webinar that is customized for MSU Denver or find helpful information on MSU Denver’s VoiceThread webpage.

Kaltura Media enables faculty to view, record, upload, publish, search, and share video directly within their courses in Blackboard Learn. Creating video content in a variety of Blackboard tools such as the discussion board, blogs, and journals can help improve student engagement, creativity, and learning. Find out more on the Kaltura Media webpage or by visiting the Faculty Commons in West Classroom room WC 243 during our Faculty Support Hours.

Examity is a virtual proctoring service for lower-stakes assessments. Examity student authentication requires a student to snap photos of their ID and face, answer challenge questions, and enter a biometric keystroke signature to verify their identity before taking an exam. To learn more about Examity register for a free webinar or visit MSU Denver’s Examity informational webpage. For specific questions, please contact the MSU Denver Examity Representative.

ProctorU is an online proctoring service that allows students to take exams virtually any time or anywhere while ensuring the integrity of the exam for the institution. With ProctorU, live proctors monitor exams by authenticating the student’s identity, observing the student via their webcam, and watching the student’s computer screen in real time. Learn more about ProctorU by registering for a free webinar or visiting in the MSU Denver ProctorU informational webpage. For specific questions, please contact the MSU Denver ProctorU Representative.

Faculty are encouraged to visit the respective information webpages for each of the tools to determine which tools might meet your specific needs as well as any costs related to using them.

For assistance with these and other educational technology tools, including Blackboard Learn, please feel free to visit the new Faculty Commons in West Classroom room WC 243 (moved from CN 220) during our Faculty Support Hours. 

Enhancing Team Collaboration

Is your team looking for an efficient way to collaborate? If so, you are encouraged to try out a new chat-based workspace included with Office 365 – Microsoft Teams. Teams is an online collaborative communication environment that brings together people, conversations and content and provides the tools that teams need to achieve more. Additionally, Teams naturally integrates with the Microsoft Office applications included in Office 365 to further enhance team communication and collaboration. To learn more about Teams, check out the tutorials offered on by going to the Faculty and Staff Hub, clicking the link, logging in with your NetID and password, and searching for ‘Microsoft Teams’.

Achieving Continuous Course Improvement

Course improvement is an ongoing goal at MSU Denver as we strive for excellence in teaching and learning in fulfillment of our mission to provide a high-quality, accessible, enriching education that prepares students for successful careers, post-graduate education and lifelong learning in a multicultural, global and technological society. The CourseLaunch, CourseAssist, CourseConstellation and ELITE Certification programs are designed to facilitate such ongoing improvement.

All MSU Denver faculty are encourage to explore the course improvement opportunities below and to submit an application for the Spring work cycle (courses to be taught Summer or Fall 2018) as soon as possible:

  • CourseLaunch (application deadline Friday, Dec. 15th, 2017) 
  • CourseAssist (application deadline Friday, Dec. 15th, 2017) 
  • CourseConstellation (application deadline Friday, Dec. 15th, 2017) 
  • ELITE Certification (application deadline March, 15th, 2018)

Interested in learning more? Check out our articles in the previous Information Technology Services March 2017 Newsletter, "Need a Course Makeover?" and "Get a Competitive Edge!". 

Avoiding Ransomware Attacks

From the EDUCAUSE Security Awareness Initiative webpage

Ransomware is a type of malware designed to encrypt users’ files or lock their operating systems so attackers can demand a ransom payment. According to a 2016 Symantec report, the average ransom demand is almost $700 and “consumers are the most likely victims of ransomware, accounting for 57 percent of all infections between January 2015 and April 2016.”

Similar to a phishing attack, ransomware executes when a user is lured to click on an infected link or e-mail attachment or to download a file or software drive while visiting a rogue website. Sophisticated social engineering techniques are used to entice users to take the desired action; examples include

  • an embedded malicious link in an e-mail offers a cheap airfare ticket (see figure 1);
  • an e-mail that appears to be from Google Chrome or Facebook invites recipients to click on an image to update their web browser (see figure 2); or
  • a well-crafted website mimics a legitimate website and prompts users to download a file or install an update that locks their PC or laptop.

To avoid becoming a victim of ransomware, users can follow these tips: 

  • Delete any suspicious e-mail. Messages from unverified sources or from known sources that offer deals that sound too good to be true are most likely malicious (see figure 3). If in doubt, contact the alleged source by phone or by using a known, public e-mail address to verify the message’s authenticity.
  • Avoid clicking on unverified e-mail links or attachments. Suspicious links might carry ransomware (such as the CryptoLocker Trojan).
  • Use e-mail filtering options whenever possible. E-mail or spam filtering can stop a malicious message from reaching your inbox.
  • Install and maintain up-to-date antivirus software. Keeping your operating system updated with the latest virus definitions will ensure that your security software can detect the latest malware variations.
  • Update all devices, software, and plug-ins on a regular basis. Check for operating system, software, and plug-in updates often — or, if possible, set up automatic updates — to minimize the likelihood of someone holding your computer or files for ransom.
  • Back up your files. Back up the files on your computer, laptop, or mobile devices frequently so you don’t have to pay the ransom to access locked files.

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