CIO's Blog

Stephen Frazier, Western Illinois University


WIU Now Using Zoom For Video-Conferencing

ZoomLogoVideo-conferencing just became easier for WIU students, faculty, and staff. Until the summer of 2016, the University’s preferred video conference software was Adobe Connect. However, when Adobe announced that its annual subscription was going to increase more than 300%, University Technology (uTech) began to explore alternatives.  Zoom was identified as a cost effective, scalable, and flexible alternative.  We also think you will find that it is much easier to use than Adobe Connect.

WIU students, faculty, and staff can go to WIU.zoom.us to sign up for a free “Basic” account using their WIU email addresses. These free basic accounts are limited to 40-minute sessions and traditional video conference rooms (such as a Polycom room) cannot be invited to a Zoom meeting.  However, Pro accounts do not have the 40-minute limit and, with an additional license, can connect to Polycoms.  Pro accounts are available for purchase.  To find out more about Zoom, we encourage you to visit http://WIU.zoom.us.  

uTech coordinated a group purchase of Zoom licensing with the College of Education and Human Services, University Libraries, the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research, and the office of the Vice President for Quad Cities and Planning to take advantage of volume pricing options. If you are interested in obtaining a Pro account or a Room Connector license, please contact the uTech Support Center at (309) 298-TECH or support@wiu.edu.

How Zoom Works

Zoom meetings can be created very simply:

  1. One person starts or “hosts” a meeting and may invite up to 50 participants to join. The host is the only party required to have a Zoom account and he or she can choose to host the meeting from a desktop computer (Windows, Mac OS, or Linux) or mobile/tablet device (iOS, Android, or Blackberry) just by installing the free downloadable mobile app or logging into the zoom.us website.
  2. Participants may choose which method they are the most comfortable with when connecting to the meeting. They can also connect with audio-only by calling a phone number included in the meeting invite.

For a typical Zoom meeting, each host and participant needs speakers, a microphone and a webcam. These devices don’t have to be expensive to provide a great experience. Basic speakers and a webcam such as the Logitech HD Pro C920 ($80) wzoom_laptopith its built in microphone will give you a great picture and audio.

Zoom is a cloud-based system so the desktop applications, mobile apps, and all the backend technology to make the system work is provided by the company. Unlike traditional video conference room systems (such as Polycom, Lifesize, or Cisco), neither hosts nor participants are tied to a specific location. Hosting or joining a meeting can happen from anywhere there is a reliable internet connection and little background noise.

With the purchase of a “Room Connector” license, Zoom hosts can invite a traditional video conference room system to a Zoom meeting as well. That capability is useful if several people want to participate in the meeting from the same location.

Zoom also boasts several other advanced features that are flexible and easy to use:

  • Hosts or participants can share whiteboards or other content and allow other attendees to annotate as the originator sees fit.
  • Entire meetings or portions of meetings can be recorded by the host and hosts can individually allow participants to record as well.
  • Public and private meeting chats facilitates communication between those who need to be involved without overwhelming those who do not.

Zoom combines its simple and well-designed interface with the ability to participate from various geographic locations and freedom to allow participants to choose the technology each are comfortable with for a great win. The quality and price of Zoom will be very difficult to match.


Recent Phishing Email

On July 12, many members of Western Illinois University received a phishing email scam (see screenshots below). The email message linked to a fraudulent website that impersonated WIU’s legitimate Central Sign-On web page. This fraudulent website has since been removed, but for a period of time, it functioned and some users may have provided their username and password to a malicious third-party.

If you received this or any other phishing message

  1. Report it as phishing to Google so they can block future copies of the message from being delivered to the University.
    phishing-menu

  2. Do not reply to to message or click on any links within the phishing email message.

If you clicked on the link and submitted your username/password

  1. Immediately change your ECom password in Guava. Your account could be compromised and action needs to be taken immediately to protect your data.
  2. Notify the uTech Support Center at (309) 298-2704 or support@wiu.edu if you need assistance or have additional concerns.

Common signs often found in phishing email messages

The phishing email had many giveaways that indicated it was not legitimate, as did the website that the phishing email linked to. Below are screenshots where we have pointed out several indicators that the email message and web page were not legitimate:

email-message-ss.jpg
phishing-ss

  1. Poor spelling and bad grammar. Cybercriminals are not known for their grammar and spelling. Professional companies or organizations usually have a staff of copy editors that will not allow a mass email like this to go out to its users. If you notice mistakes in an email, it might be a scam. For more information, see ‘Email and web scams: How to help protect yourself’.
  2. Beware of links in email. If you see a link in a suspicious email message, don’t click on it. Rest your mouse (but don’t click) on the link to see if the address matches the link that was typed in the message.
  3. Threats. Have you ever received a threat that your account would be closed if you didn’t respond to an email message? The email message shown above is an example of the same trick. Cybercriminals often use threats that your security has been compromised. For more information, see ‘Watch out for fake alerts’.
  4. Spoofing popular websites or companies. Scam artists use graphics in email that appear to be connected to legitimate websites but actually take you to phony scam sites or legitimate-looking pop-up windows. For more information, see ‘Avoid scams that use the Microsoft name fraudulently’. Cybercriminals also use web addresses that resemble the names of well-known companies but are slightly altered. For more information, see ‘Protect yourself from cybersquatting and fake web addresses’.

Please be constantly aware of these social engineering and phishing scams. They are not always received via email, but include telephone calls, use of social media, and other attack avenues.


Blog Recognized As One of Best University CIO Blogs

WIU’s CIO Blog was recently recognized as being among the best Higher Ed IT blogs on the Internet by Optimal Partners Consulting.  Nuno Couto, Founder and Managing Partner of Optimal Partners, in an email to WIU’s CIO, said that “The long-form approach your blog takes is different from others I’ve read, but it is great content.”

Optimal Partners ranked our blog third among seven CIO blogs that they highlighted.  Their intent in this effort was to provide “an insider’s perspective” on IT in universities, and they state “these 7 CIOs are more than willing to give you a tour of what’s going on at their universities.”  You can read more about the top CIO blogs on their blog post entitled 7 Best University CIO Blogs.

“If you’re looking for an in-depth look at what’s happening behind the scenes at a university’s IT department, then Stephen Frazier’s aptly titled “CIO’s Blog” is the place to start.” – Optimal Partners Consulting, LLC

Steve Frazier, WIU’s CIO, said, “One of our initiatives in University Technology at Western has been to better communicate our many services and projects, which traditionally has not been a strong point of most IT organizations.  uTech is a fairly large organization with a lot of going on.  We started a Major Projects Tracking System on WIU’s website but we really needed someone to focus on the marketing aspects.  During uTech’s recent consolidation and reorganization efforts, we tasked Jeremy Merritt, the University’s Coordinator of Web Services and an assistant director in uTech, with spearheading that effort.  He has been doing a terrific job and I think it is going to pay off in numerous ways!”  Merritt has been creating marketing materials for uTech that are published on the web and in various media outlets around campus.  He is also now a contributor to the CIO’s Blog.

Optimal Partners specializes exclusively in project management for Higher Ed.  Couto says, “Although my company is focused on staffing and consulting services, we do a lot of “giving back” to the community in line with the mission of Higher Ed. We mentor students and student startups. We sponsor events like this one in the Azores, Portugal. We also promote education through supporting various charities.”  Optimal Partners can be found on the web at http://optimal-partners.com.