Author Archives: Nathan Burt

Now’s the Time to Update Your OS & Apps: New Vulnerabilities Announced

burglarApple recently released software updates to iOS, Mac OS 10.7 and higher, as well as for Safari & QuickTime for Windows.  These updates address a vulnerability found in Apple’s implementation of SSL (secure sockets layer), a protocol computers use extensively for secure communications online.  While we are not aware of any specific information breaches at Middlebury College, and the steps necessary for someone to compromise these secure communications are far from trivial, we should all apply these important security patches to our Apple hardware and Windows computers running Apple software to mitigate these risks.  Please check your Apple software for available updates (especially iOS, Mac OS, Safari, and QuickTime updates).  Run your updates now and check again after the installation as some may have prerequisites.  For more information, links to specific updates for the SSL vulnerability and others are available at


While WebPrint is the most convenient way to print that paper from your computer, this service gets bogged down at times with the thousands of print jobs it handles every day.  Printing from a lab computer avoids that line and moves you to the printer in a more consistent amount of time.  For those of you printing very large documents, we kindly request that you always do this from a lab computer, rather than using WebPrint.  By doing so, you will have more options (including being able to print a selected range of pages) and may help someone else get their paper in on time.  For more information, see

Macintosh MagSafe Power Adapters – and general cord management

There is a class action lawsuit on behalf of owners of Macintosh computers that use MagSafe power adapters.  If you own such a computer but have not received a notice about the lawsuit, find more information at

As this relates to power cords with frayed connections, this is an issue that should be taken very seriously.  Regardless of manufacturing quality, the helpdesk frequently sees frayed power cords for laptop computers.  Here are a few recommendations:

1) put a loop in the cord before winding it up
2) be careful to not leave cords where they will be stepped on, or rolled over by chair wheels
3) if you see exposed wire or stressed wire covering (typically near the ends of the cables), do NOT use the power adapter

Apple recommendations – (their advice applies well to many makes and models of power adapters – not just MagSafe adapters)

Have questions?  Contact your computer vendor.  Or the helpdesk (especially for college-owned equipment).

Cybersecurity as a Shared Responsibility

Cybersecurity as a Shared Responsibility – an Educause webinar in Library 145 Tuesday, October 4th from 1-2pm.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month.  In this webinar, representatives from the White House, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Higher Education Information Security Council will discuss international and national cybersecurity strategies, the importance of cybersecurity awareness for both citizens and organizations, and the role that higher education plays in addressing cybersecurity challenges in an increasingly interdependent networked society. We will highlight the “Stop, Think, Connect” campaign that is being spearheaded by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and will also feature the SANS “Securing the Human” awareness materials that are being used by several institutions this fall in an effort to raise awareness among students, staff, and faculty.

October is Cyber-Security Awareness Month: from acronyms to buzzwords

Submitted by Nate Burt/Amy Hoffman

In the technology world we are typically barraged with acronyms full of useful meaning to we geeks.  Lately, though, we’ve had numerous buzzwords sent our way that we’ve been eager to share with anyone willing to listen.  Many of these buzzwords relate to what “evil-doers” in the computing space are doing with computers. 

It has only been a few years since we spoke of computer viruses and trojans with a mixture of amusement at some of the harmless ones, to fear or anger of those that deleted entire hard drives on the nth day of the nth month.  The landscape has shifted, though, as big money now drives the theft of your computer’s power, information, and/or your pocketbook.

Enter spam, phishing, rootkits, spyware, malware, grayware, adware, backscatter, and more.  Some are infestations, while others are the result.  Most are intended to trick folks out of their money.

Some bits of software code silently observe your computer usage, while others pop up ads, and many more prompt you to send sensitive information, and the like. 

There has been a recent surge in notices that pop up in your web browser or as an alert to the operating system informing you of serious threats to the information on your computer – and urging you to take immediate action.  This relatively new group of applications takes on a name quite appropriate for the season – SCAREWARE! 

Many computers have been infested with “Antivirus 2009” and other relatives, many of which originate from web sources including infected video on social networking sites.  Microsoft and others are hoping to put the scare back into the “evil-doers” in this Halloween season, though, through legal action.  Boo! 


for more on Cyber-Security Awareness Month:


for more on “scareware” and pending legal action: