Tag Archives: Email

Improved Filtering of SPAM and Phishing Email

ITS has begun enabling new, proactive anti-spam and anti-phishing email filters intended to improve the filtering of unsolicited and unwanted messages, by leveraging external reputation-based lists of email servers that have been flagged for sending spam and/or malicious email.

We’ve had the new filters in “Tag” mode since October 2014, so we’re confident that they are accurate and we’ll be closely monitoring incoming mail queues during days after the change. Still, there is a possibility that someone trying to sending you email will have their message blocked, if their email servers have been flagged for sending spam and/or malicious email. The sender, in such cases, will receive an email advising them that their message could not be delivered.

If you encounter such as scenario, (i.e. a legitimate sender is trying to email you, but the message is being blocked by Middlebury’s email servers), or you have noticed legitimate messages recently having been incorrectly tagged as [SPAM?], please contact the ITS Help Desk at helpdesk@middlebury.edu and we will help you identify and resolve the issue.

General questions about this change may be directed to infosec@middlebury.edu.

Webmail’s New Look — Coming Soon

MaskThe upgrade of our email environment over the holiday break will bring a cleaner, more minimal look to Webmail (also known as Outlook Web App – OWA), designed with “touch” devices in mind.  The appearance of the Webmail login screen has already changed, but the workings once logged in will not change until after your account has migrated.

  • Student mailboxes will migrate Wed, Dec 17 through Fri, Dec 19.
  • Faculty & Staff mailboxes will migrate Sat, Dec 20 through Sun, Dec 21.

The most noticeable differences in Outlook’s new “face” are the shift of many buttons/links to the upper right corner and the fact that Public Folders are no longer accessible when using the Web App. You will be able to adjust many settings by clicking the Settings (gear) icon located in the top right corner (beside the ? icon).

Here’s how you can quickly get up to speed on the changes:

* Watch a brief lynda.com movie (under 9 minutes!) to get familiar with the new look:
Exploring the OWA Interface
* Read Microsoft’s brief summary of the highlights:   What’s new in Outlook Web App
* Visit go/webmailhelp for more details, resources and FAQs!



Friday AM LIS open meeting – Email/Collaboration Tools evaluation

These are notes from the 1st of our new biweekly “Friday Morning LIS” meeting series, open to any or all from within LIS.  The aim of these meetings is to discuss upcoming projects, decisions, issues, and opportunities relating to technology and libraries, as well as to ensure that those in our community most impacted by any given change have a chance to provide input/feedback.

What are we talking about?
LIS is investigating migrating our locally hosted email (Exchange) service (incl. calendaring, contacts, etc.) to a cloud-based service.  We are looking specifically at comparing Google Apps for Education and Microsoft’s own cloud-based service to our current local Exchange system.  Shel Sax is providing overall guidance for the evaluation.

Why are we considering this?
The experience of other schools who have migrated their email, etc., to the cloud indicate that using these services can provide …

  • Added functionality (e.g., collaboration tools such as shared documents, etc.)
  • Economies of scale –> save money
  • more staff time for Midd-specific tasks by reducing the burden of a maintaining locally-hosted email system
  • better disaster recovery/mission continuity services.

What are our evaluation criteria?
Based in part on our readings and conversations with Gartner Research, we propose to base the evaluation on the following factors:

  • Economic
  • Alignment with institutional mission/needs
  • Features/Functionality
  • Security
  • Ease of migration (we could consider, if just migrating students to a cloud-based service, to not migrate existing mail but to run both local/cloud services for students for 3 years)
  • Support
  • Mission continuity requirements

This list is not final, and may need to be modified.  Our initial idea for undertaking the evaluation is to assign an individual/team/workgroup to lead the process of filling out the details within each of the broad criteria, recommend additional criteria as appropriate, and evaluate the 3 systems (Google/Microsoft/status quo)

We also need to take care to be sensitive to campus culture and the community’s tolerance for risk.

When will we be doing this?
Our preliminary timeline is as follows:

  • Define evaluation criteria – by early February 2012
  • Evaluate – through April 2012
  • Preliminary decision/recommendations from LIS administration, with a report and proposal to President’s staff – through May 2012
  • If approved by President’s Staff, implement and go live for fall 2012 – it may be a fairly extended process to migrate all accounts or even just student accounts.

Questions/Comments (N.B.: some of these do not have answers yet)
Q: Will we migrate just students or everyone?
Q: Are we looking at email only, or the entire package of collaborative tools?

Q: Is implementing the collaborative suite of tools piece be contingent upon also implementing the email services?Q: What is the status of the current Middlebury/Google pilot implementation? What if we go with MS?  Do we turn this off?
A: Currently about 350 users.  We will need to develop a plan for dealing with this content if we shift to a non-Google solution.

Q: Will we be evaluating privacy?
A: This was investigated earlier at the request of President’s Staff.  However, we may want to revisit this, since products have changed since that time, e.g. the introduction of Google+ to Google’s suite of tools (Ian B).

Q: How will unified communications (GoogleVoice, etc.) fit into this process?
Q: What additional features will we need beyond the basic “free” services offered, and how much will they add significantly to the cost?  E.g. Shared calendars, linking users to the same mailbox, etc. may require additional fees.

Q: Would we keep our .edu identity?
A: Yes, as far as we know at this point.

Q: Should we include keeping the status quo in our evaluation?
A: Yes.

Q: Will the evaluation include pilots or testing?
A: Yes. We will have access to test instances of both google apps and MS Live (or whatever it is called)

Q: What is the process if we do wind up with two systems I.e. faculty on MS and students on Google?  How will this affect class email lists, etc.?
Q: How disruptive would the migration process to college business while it is in process?

Q: It seems like we will need to put an education component for users in place if we migrate.
A.: Agreed

Q: Should we also be looking at improving the current environment and adding functionality to the current model if we keep the status quo?   For example, should we start running a local version of sharepoint. One Gartner rep and our PriceWaterhouse Cooper auditors seem to think these services are not quite mature enough yet.
A: We can look at this.  There are definitely differences of opinion about the maturity of these services, even within the same organization, i.e. Gartner Research. It is also the case that the LiveOffice offering does NOT have a local option. The general trend seems to be that these sorts of collaborative services are cloud-bound.

Q: Will we be describing the evaluation process to the campus?  People may be more receptive to change if they are aware of what’s happening early on.
A: Agreed. We will have some sort of on-line component similar to what we did with the web makeover, and we will also have in our plan plenty of face to face meetings, email communications, and perhaps surveys to ensure we keep the community informed.

Q: Is the timeline too short, especially if we want to include a testing phase?  Also, rolling this out in September may not be the best time for faculty, as they are busy planning for classes, etc.  We saw some indication that this isn’t the best time when we rolled out Moodle.
A: The timeline, like most everything else at this point, is still in flux and may need to be adjusted.

Q: We need to make sure the right users are evaluating specific features.  E.g. Shared calendaring should be evaluated by heavy users of the shared calendaring system.
A: Agreed.

Q: Have the lead evaluators for each criteria been selected yet?
A: No.

Stay tuned, more to come.

Upgrade to FirstClass Server

For many years, the Bread Loaf School of English has been using a mail/conferencing system called FirstClass.  FirstClass was one of the first ‘bulletin boards’ to develop a graphic user interface and the BLSE has used this technology for mail, course conferences, support of the Bread Loaf Teachers Network and general discussion conferences.  Until last May, the server running the FirstClass server software was located on campus and supported by the Enterprise and Network Solutions group.

Last May, LIS decided to outsource the administration and support of this server to WhatIf Networks, a company based in Westbrook, ME that has years of experience supporting FirstClass servers.  The cut over of services took place just before the beginning of the 2010 BLSE summer sessions.   At the conclusion of the summer classes, we began planning to upgrade the server to a newer version of the software, from version 8.0 to version 9.1. One of the driving factors in this decision was the increasing number of requests of the BreadNet community to access their mail and conferences from smart phones (particularly iPhones) and iPads.  Our upgrade now makes this possible and we have a number of happy smart phone users.

However, to prepare for the upgrade, it was necessary to reconfigure the roughly 1000 user desktops so that the upgraded client view was clean and uncluttered. Caroline Eisner, the director of Breadnet;  Margaret ‘Mugs’ Johnson of WhatIf Networks and Shel Sax worked over the weekend reconfiguring the user desktops in preparation for the upgrade.  The upgrade was effected late Saturday afternoon, November 20th and the new software installed without incident

After the upgrade, a typical FirstClass client desktop looks like this:

screen shot first class server

Priority Inbox now in Gmail!

While we haven’t turned the Gmail service on for the Middlebury Google Apps instance yet, it is good to know that if/when we do, people will be able to use Gmail’s new Priority Inbox! If you haven’t tried it yet on your regular Gmail account, check it out.

“Priority Inbox (Beta) is a new view of your inbox that automatically helps you focus on your most important messages. Priority Inbox splits your inbox into three sections: “Important and unread,” “Starred,” and “Everything else”. Messages are automatically categorized as they arrive in your inbox.”

Read the full article here: http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2010/08/email-overload-try-priority-inbox.html