Banner access application process now electronic

Eastern employees seeking access to use Banner, the university’s suite of enterprise computing software applications, now can do so electronically rather than by submitting a paper request.

Banner request applications had been in the form of a writable PDF that applicants could access online and fill out on their workplace computer. The forms, however, then had to be printed out on paper and submitted to the employee’s supervisor and appropriate Banner module custodian.

Now, a Sharepoint form is available on Eastern’s PantherShare website, and the submission and forwarding process has been automated, meaning that no forms or emails need be manually submitted.

The link to the access request form is: https://panthershare.eiu.edu/sites/itsres/SitePages/Access%20Request%20Form.aspx

University employees who may have the old PDF form bookmarked on their computers should no longer use that form but should use the new link instead.

Information that must be inputted to the form includes university NetID, e-number, position title, department name, supervisor, NetID of the person the employee is replacing (if applicable), phone number, status and supervisor’s phone number. Applications for which access is being sought include Banner, BDMS, Argos, Reportal, Workflow, Appworx, Dataload, Files (M and U drives) and other. The form also contains a section for supervisor’s approval.

Banner modules include Advancement, Financial Aid, Finance, General, Employment, Payroll and Student.

“Automating the process makes everything electronic, speeds things up, reduces the need for paper and eliminates the need for supervisors to know who the forms go to,” said Information Technology Services Security Administration Technical Associate Josh Awalt. “This streamlines things. You just fill out the form and this takes care of the rest. Internally for ITS, this reduces the workload of managing requests. Before, someone had to generate emails and scan documents into Onbase. The new form send out emails automatically and retains the information for our records.”


Creating strong passwords key to keeping accounts secure

When creating a password for yourself, choose one that is easy for you to remember but would be hard for others to guess.

Password security, however, does not end with picking a strong password. In order to ensure full password security, you must also take steps to protect your password.

Do not share your password. You are responsible for all activities conducted on your account.

Do not write your password down. Written passwords are easily stolen.

Change your password on occasion. The longer you are using your password, the more likely it will be compromised.

Do not store your password in a program. When your e-mail client or Web browser stores your passwords, it becomes easy for a hacker or a computer virus to retrieve them without your knowledge.

Strong password rules at Eastern:

Your password must:
• have at least eight characters
• not be longer than 15 characters
• have upper and lower case characters
• not have more than 12 upper-case letters
• not have more than 12 lower-case letters
• have at least one punctuation mark. Valid punctuation marks are limited to !%*-?:
• have at least three letters
• begin with a letter
• have at least one digit
• have at least one digit not at the beginning and end
• not be your profile ID or name
• not contain your profile ID or name
• not be your profile ID or name with the letters rearranged
• not repeat an old password
• not have more than two pairs of repeating characters.


Transition of data from PantherFile to PantherShare completed

The transition from PantherFile to PantherShare has been completed.

The online collaboration tool used by faculty, staff and students at Eastern since 2008 to share files and documents – PantherFile (also referred to as Xythos) – was shut down this week, and its replacement – PantherShare (a Microsoft product also referred to as SharePoint) – became the supported campus file-sharing platform.

The new application provides the same suite of collaboration capabilities as the old one, but at reduced expense to the university, said Information Technology Services’ Director of Infrastructure Technologies Brian Murphy.

ITS was able to use the university’s Microsoft campus software license to leverage a more favorable price point than had been available through Xythos’ PantherFile product.

“It’s all about getting similar functionality for less cost,” he said.

PantherFile averaged about 400 users at Eastern, mostly faculty and staff, as well as groups, and some students, particularly among certain departments, such as Communication Disorders and Sciences.

Approximately half a terabyte of data and documents was stored in PantherFile.

Transfer of that data began last November.

“All existing PantherFile users were contacted and given the opportunity to have their data transferred, or provided assistance in doing so,” said Murphy. “That effort has been completed and we are now finished with the process.”

PantherShare is a powerful tool for storing data and collaborating among users, Murphy said. The on-premises platform lets users share and collaborate on documents via the campus network.

“It’s very easy to store and share documents on campus as well as to provide external access to users outside of Eastern,” he said.

Like PantherFile, PantherShare is Web-based and accessible to any user with a browser and Internet access. The two interfaces are different in appearance, with PantherShare having a more Windows-familiar look and feel.

PantherShare can be accessed at panthershare.eiu.edu.


New Pinnacle solution will provide Eastern greater telecommunications management

Users of administrative telephone services at Eastern Illinois University will be better able to manage their departments’ monthly billing and usage when the university switches to a new generation of telecommunications billing software next month.

Eastern will upgrade to the latest version of its Pinnacle billing system effective Feb. 1. The move will streamline the university’s telephone invoicing process, making it more transparent and accurate for end users and more efficient for the Information Technology Services’ Office of Telecommunications, which administers telecom systems on campus.

The university has been using Pinnacle billing software since 2004, but vendor support for the current version is scheduled to end this summer. In addition, that version no longer adequately addresses the university’s current and anticipated telecom management needs because of its lack of report generation, outdated invoicing capabilities and automation deficiencies that necessitate manual data entry and cause the generation of substantial paperwork.

“It will help the university keep better track of phone usage and expenses by providing improved reporting tools,” said ITS Telecom Communication Services Specialist Becky Shew. “In this office, it will save time, improve billing accuracy and eliminate the need to make hundreds of paper copies every month.”

Eastern currently pays for 215 university-owned cell phones as well as 1,746 office land-line phones, through Verizon Wireless and Consolidated Communications, each month. The university is billed for usage, centrally through the Telecom office. The Telecommunications staff process these statements, breaking out each department’s share. Because the bills come in paper form, the Telecom staff must enter this data manually, line by line. This not only takes significant amounts of their time but also risks possible data entry errors. Then they must print paper statements – approximately 650 pages each month – put them in Campus Mail envelopes and distribute them to various departments’ fiscal agents across campus. That not only is inefficient but is a potential security risk, as well.

“The old system doesn’t support a lot of things we need it to do,” Shew said. “The new version will provide this need.”

It doesn’t do a lot of things end users need it to do, as well. The old version does not allow the ability to generate reports that graph usage, numbers called, costs, minutes of usage, long-distance tolls, voice and text charges, etc. That means that various departments lack information that could help them better manage their telecom usage, and therefore control expenses.

Another advantage of the new version is that it will be Web-based. While the old system was hosted on servers located on campus, the new one will reside in the cloud and be accessible from any location with an Internet connection. Users will not only be able to view their detail on line, they will have additional tools to help better administer usage.

Other advantages will accrue through use of the new version, too.

Now, the Telecom office has to manually maintain a spreadsheet of landline phone locations across campus. The new version will automate that process and display the information on a computer screen – no more paper.

That should prove helpful.

For example, if police were to receive a 911 call from a landline that they are unable to locate on campus; they contact the Telecom office to research the location. The Telecom staff would access an excel spreadsheet to locate this information. In the new Pinnacle system, they will be able to download the spreadsheet, as well as other manually kept spreadsheets, into the system. This will eliminate the need to keep external spreadsheets and integrate the data.

The Telecom staff will begin training on the new system later this month and then start training fiscal agents in the use of the new version in February. The first bill in the new system will be generated March 1 for February charges.

The Telecom office began preliminary work on the transition in January 2014, so the project has been underway for one year. The project team consists of Becky Shew, Pat Orr, and Cindy Fearday. The Telecom Staff are pleased with how smoothly the project has flowed and would like to thank Cindy for her valuable input and viable solutions that have assisted in the ease of the project.

“The Pinnacle people have been very responsive in listening to our needs,” said Orr.

“The two largest things will be time savings and report capabilities,” Shew said, “both for us and the end users. We’ll be gaining so much from just those two things alone.”


Welcome back, students; stay safe online

As spring semester gets underway at Eastern, students returning to campus should take time to make certain their technology is as up to date as the 2015 calendar.

That means ensuring that their computers have the latest patches installed, their software and operating systems are current, their work is backed up, their passwords have been changed and that they have reacquainted themselves with the technologies they will be using as they return to classes.

Eastern’s information security officer, Mike Gioia, offers some timely tips to students as the new semester gets underway:

  • Even though it’s not required of them, students should change the password to their PantherMail account and other accounts that provide online access, in order to protect themselves. Over the long holiday break, they may have even forgotten their password and so will need to create a new one. Information Technology Services’ password reset application, available at http://password.eiu.edu enables them to do so easily. This advice applies not just to returning students, but especially to incoming freshmen and transfers, as well.
  • Students should make sure that they have approved antivirus software running on their computers. Without it, they will not be able to function on Eastern’s campus network. They’ll also need to have SafeConnect downloaded and operating on their computer in order to connect to the campus network. Simply accessing the network will prompt the installation of SafeConnect.
  • Up-to-date operating system patches should be installed on every computer.
  • Students should make sure they are familiar with the use of EIU Online, Eastern’s integrated learning management system.
  • Coursework, all work from the previous semester and personal data should be backed up in case of computer or hard drive loss or failure. Office 365, available as part of each student’s PantherMail account, provides a cloud-based backup service called OneDrive, which is available free to all students and which provides unlimited storage capacity. OneDrive can be accessed by clicking the OneDrive tab in the upper right corner of the Office 365 screen. Files can simply be dragged and dropped for uploading.
  • Although no new online virus threats are thought to confront students as they return to campus, old ones remain, particularly the cryptolocker ransomware varieties. Students should avoid unknown websites and refrain from opening email attachments from unfamiliar senders in order to lessen the threat of infections. And the threat of viruses is another reason to make sure that data is backed up.
  • Hackers also may target banking or financial accounts. If students receive emails seeking information about such accounts, they should exercise caution. And if such emails purport to be from Eastern, they should contact Financial Aid or the Business Office to verify them. If you receive an email that you feel is a phishing attempt, please forward the email to the following address: phishing@eiu.edu.

Stay safe: Security tips offered to recipients of technology gifts this holiday season

It’s great to get the gift of technology for the holidays – a new desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. But a new computer under the Christmas tree comes with the need for those who receive such presents to be proactive in ensuring the security of their new devices.

It’s important, as soon as you unwrap your device, to address its vulnerabilities.

“I would, immediately that day, update the operating system and make sure that it has some level of security, because depending on who gave it to you, it could have been sitting for months in stock in a warehouse and missed the weekly security patches it needs,” said Information Technology Services’ Assistant Director of Information Security Mike Gioia. “You want to fire it up and play with it, but if the security is out of date, you need to make sure it’s patched and ready to go – like checking all the fluids in a vehicle before setting out on a road trip.”

Such weekly patches address operating system vulnerabilities as they arise. Antivirus software also is a must to deal with a wide range of existing threats found on the Internet.

“Antivirus varies by platform,” Gioia said. “Freeware (free software available for online download) is sufficient for Macs. For Windows, it depends on what version you are running. Windows 8 has some inherent security built in; it’s OK, but not great. You might want some additional tools.”

Several security applications are available for free download at the ITS software download page at http://www.eiu.edu/its/helpdesk/swdownloads.php

If you receive a smartphone, be prepared to research security options.

“Make sure you know what your ‘sharing’ settings are,” Gioia said. “A lot of the apps that you download will share your location and data, so make sure you look into that. Android phones also are getting more prone to viruses, so you really need to be careful there.”

If you travel over the holidays with your new device, take extra precaution then, too.

“Don’t connect to public wi-fi unless you have to, and make sure you data is backed up in case your device is stolen,” he said.

If the new device is to eventually connect to Eastern’s campus network, it will also have to have current antivirus software installed so that it can connect through SafeConnect, EIU’s network security appliance (more information available at http://its.eiu.edu/safeconnect/index.php )

In the realm of antivirus downloads, Gioia recommends MalwareBytes, available at  http://www.malwarebytes.org/ .  ITS has Symantec Antivirus available at http://www.eiu.edu/its/helpdesk/swdownloads/symantec.php

Lock your new device down, too. Your new phone, tablet or laptop will make you happy when you receive it, but in the future, it could make you very unhappy if it were to be lost or stolen. Take steps now to deal with that possibility.

Activate the screen lock option, which will require that you enter a password or code whenever you use the device. This is your primary defense in preventing someone from accessing sensitive financial or personal information should your device go missing. This may be an inconvenience now, but it could prevent bigger, costlier inconveniences later. Also, download any lost-device feature so you can track your tablet or phone, should it get lost or be stolen. iPhones, which seem particularly vulnerable to theft because of their resale value, have a default tracking application installed, but you must connect the phone to an iCloud account. Android devices can utilize Android Device Manager.

“Technology is very portable, so use pin codes and passwords to make sure all of your personal data on the device is protected,” Gioia said.

If you have any data stored on your new device, make sure you back it up so you don’t lose it in case of loss or theft of the device.

Any personal information, photos and important documents should be stored on a separate drive or in the cloud, at sites such as Dropbox or on Google.

“You want to make sure you can still function academically if you don’t have your device,” Gioia said. “If you have electronic versions of textbooks on your iPad, make sure you keep a copy someplace else so you can still do your reading assignment if you lose it.”

Gioia said owners of new technology devices should find a balance. Don’t be so paranoid about the security of your hardware that you fail to use and enjoy it to its full potential, he said.  But on the other hand, don’t be so lax that you have it stolen or compromised.


Microsoft Lync offers campus users multi-faceted online collaboration tool

Students and faculty at Eastern who are seeking a collaborative Web and video conferencing tool have a useful solution available to them through Information Technology Services’ Lync platform.

Lync is part of the Microsoft’s Office 365 suite, which was launched for student and faculty/staff users at Eastern earlier this year. Lync is available on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and PantherMail Web and is useful for high-definition video conferencing, screen sharing and instant messaging. Logging into their Office 365 account through the Outlook Web app automatically signs users into Lync.

Lync can be used for a variety of situations, including instant messaging, desktop sharing, student group project chatting, instructor virtual office hours and interoffice communication.

“The advantage of Lync is better campuswide collaboration,” said ITS Associate Director of User Services Dave Emmerich. “It allows a new way to communicate. It has proven very useful, and a lot of its capabilities are still being discovered.”

Microsoft Lync offers:
• HD video, which brings life and expression to Lync, letting people “see what you mean” in new ways.
• Voice over IP (VoIP) so you can connect to your meeting from anywhere without getting hit with call origination fees.
• Instant messaging, which ensures that you can communicate silently when necessary, such as when you’re in a coffee shop or on a train.
• Desktop, application, and PowerPoint sharing so your content can be seen by other meeting participants, enabling you to continue collaborating without missing a beat!
• Screen sharing.

To download the Lync client for desktop computers:

You can download the latest version of the Lync client for the Windows or Mac OS X operating systems through the Outlook Web App. To download the client from Outlook Web App:
1. Log in at https://www.eiu.edu/panthermail/
2. Click the gear in the upper right-hand corner of the browser window.
3. From the pull-down menu that appears, select Office 365 settings.
4. On the Office 365 settings screen, select software.
5. A Lync screen will appear.
6. Follow the instructions on this screen to download and install the latest version of the Lync client available for your operating system.


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