As another academic year begins at Yale, I welcome our new and returning students, and members of the faculty and staff.
Yale provides you with tremendous information technology resources, including an excellent research and teaching network with outstanding Internet connectivity. As you use IT resources, please remember that Yale's network is essentially an extension of the Internet with all the opportunities and risks that entails. This note summarizes a few critical technology issues of importance to the Yale community. Please take a moment to review them:
All of us in Yale Information Technology Services wish you safe computing for a productive and satisfying year at Yale.
Philip Long, University CIO & Director Information Technology Services
Finding technology help at Yale
Yale offers a variety of IT professionals who stand ready to help you, based on your role and location. Students in Yale College and the Graduate School can obtain help by visiting the Student Technology Collaborative website. Professional School and other students, faculty, and staff please visit the finding IT support at Yale web page to identify where you can find help for campus-based computers (organized by school and department.). Everyone at Yale is welcome to contact the ITS Help Desk ( firstname.lastname@example.org or 203- 432-9000), whose professionals will either answer your question or route you to the right person for support.
I encourage you to consult Yale’s Systems Status page whenever you have a question about application or infrastructure outages. The Status page is generally the most convenient and current source of information about the condition of ITS services.
Yale policies and protection of copyrighted materials
All of Yale's electronic resources are governed by applicable laws and policies, including Yale's IT Appropriate Use Policy, which is available from the ITS policies, procedures, and guidelines website along with other IT policies and guidelines.
University policy covering use of the Yale network extends to any computers you connect to the Yale network, whether at home or elsewhere off campus. If you use VPN or remote desktop connections from home, your home network becomes visible as part of the Yale network.
Sharing copyrighted materials without permission is illegal. In addition, peer to peer (P2P) software and protocols, such as Kazaa, uTorrent, and BitTorrent, can consume network resources and expose your computer to viruses, malware, password and identity theft, and other threats that can incapacitate computers and the campus network.
IT security presents growing risk to Yale overall and to all of us in our individual roles. Faculty, staff, and students on the medical campus and others working with legally protected data, such as health information, must comply with regulations safeguarding the privacy and security of protected information. If applicable, please ensure you understand the information found on the legal requirements & Yale data security website.
Please take the time to familiarize yourself with these policies. Violators of any University policies will be subject to appropriate discipline.
Protecting your personal computer
The security of your individual computer can have serious consequences for the entire community; compromised personal computers are almost always the first step in more substantial attacks on Yale systems and even compromises of individual machines can create substantial network trouble resulting, for example, in Yale becoming blocked by other networks. You can minimize risk to yourself and to our community by keeping your machine well maintained. Please remember that we may have to disconnect a compromised computer from the network to protect the community.
The students, faculty, and staff at Yale University produce a tremendous amount of data as part of their academic life- most of it is unique and irreplaceable. The beginning of the academic year provides an excellent opportunity to review your backup strategy- and if you do not have one- the chance to develop a backup strategy to minimize the risk of loss.
Yale provides Symantec Anti-Virus for Windows and Macintosh users—free of charge—to all members of the Yale community for use at work and at home through the ITS Software Library. In addition, please make arrangements for keeping your computer up-to-date with regular operating system security patches.
Physical theft of portable computing devices is on the rise. Securing any confidential or protected data on your computing devices and portable media is of the utmost importance. For more information see our Secure Computing at Yale website.
If your computing device or portable media is lost or stolen there are a number of important steps you'll need to take to follow-up, including filling out the Lost/Stolen Electronic Media or Computing Device Form.
Phishing and identity theft
"Phishing" scams—email or phone attempts to harvest passwords and other personal information—continue to proliferate across the Internet. Over the past several months, Yale has been deluged with increasingly sophisticated "phishing" schemes. These phishers/scam artists always claim to be a reputable source. Recent examples appeared to be "from" Yale ITS, Webmail Help Desk, Technical Support Team, and many others. Some of these messages even suggest that the message is in response to recent phishing attempts! As these messages proliferate, we caution you to be a skeptical consumer of information.
ITS will NEVER ask you to provide private information about any account via email. Any message that requests such information is fraudulent and should be deleted.
When ITS does send messages on behalf of the University, we always provide a link at the bottom that confirms the authenticity of the message by taking you to the official Yale Messages web site:
NOTE: This official Yale University message can also be viewed at: https://light.its.yale.edu/messages/UnivMsgs/detail.asp?Msg=25355
Be a skeptical network user: do not automatically trust a URL you see as a link in an email message. If you have any concerns, type the web site address manually into your web browser.
Filtering of spam and malicious email
If not the biggest risk, certainly the biggest annoyance is the Internet scourge of spam - along with related virus-laden and phishing email. Every single day, Yale discards or tags more than 85% of email inbound from the Internet as spam, virus or phishing email. Almost 90% !! You can see the history of this at the ITS email statistics website. That page also includes links with more information about managing spam, including the University's three-tier approach.
Please note that centralized filtering in a complex university environment has to be conservative to avoid discarding legitimate email. The third tier of filtering —email client software with a “junk filter” (such as Thunderbird, Outlook, Entourage or Apple Mail) is therefore very helpful. Smart phones and Yale's webmail do not offer such filtering and will inevitably deliver more spam into your inbox than an email client with such a filter.
Never click on web links in email you receive unless you are confident of the sender's identity and that it is a trusted site. Never open an unexpected attachment (even if the sender appears to be someone you know) -- contact senders to confirm they actually sent you an attachment.
Yale's network provides access to a tremendous suite of resources but Internet use does carry some risk. Being a skeptical networker can greatly minimize your exposure.