Blogs

What I'm doing about Contact Tracing apps during the global pandemic

The short answer is, I'm using the COVID Alert NJ [1] [2] app on my smartphone.  I find it to be a safe, secure, and private way for me to participate in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.  That being said, I didn't trust the app blindly.  I did research and testing to ensure it met my requirements for privacy and security.  My findings are below in case it helps you make a choice on whether or not you participate as well.  For more

Upcoming changes to support Duo Multi-Factor Authentication in web based login screens for IAS

In the upcoming months IAS will be making a change to the login process for our web based applications by adding support for Duo Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).  This is the same technology that we currently use for our remote access system, OpenVPN.  This move will change the look of the login screen, which we explain below.

OLD: Central Authentication Service (CAS)

CAS has been in use for many years at the IAS and has a simple login screen that looks like this.

Zoom Meeting Security

Now that we've moved our meetings to being online, there are some safety concerns that we need to keep in mind that we never had to think too hard about before.  We are seeing news articles about "Zoom-bombing", where uninvited guests join public Zoom calls to disrupt, or even terrorize its participants.  There are a number of techniques that you can use to secure your Zoom sessions.

Be Aware of Gift Card Scams and other Phishing Attacks

What are Gift Card Scams?

The story starts with an innocent email from a supervisor, colleague, or friend asking for your help.  They tell you a tale about how they need some gift cards for gifts to family, friends, potential donors, etc.  Unfortunately, they are unable to make the purchase themselves, could you help them out?  And of course, it is an emergency, please do it as quickly as possible.  Did you just fall for a gift card scam? [1]

Message on Phishing to IAS Faculty, Members, Vistors and Staff 2019-01-24

Dear Faculty, Members, Visitors, and Staff,

As we begin the Spring term at the Institute for Advanced Study, I would like to remind everyone about email safety.

Spotting a scam email can sometimes be difficult, both from an institutional level and an individual level.  We need to work together to protect ourselves from malicious emails, aka phishing messages.

Last night we received such a phish with a blank subject line from, "ITS Service Desk <jcmezzetti @ alaska.edu>".  I wrote up a quick analysis of this phish and how to spot scam emails on the IAS Security website here:

Spotting a scam email (aka a phish)

Issue

We are inundated with information nowadays, from the tweets, texts, TV, streaming, email, mentions, etc, etc.  This hectic lifestyle puts us into a mode of needing to respond as soon as possible to any interruption or notice that happens in our lives.  The problem is, malicious scam artists are aware that we are overwhelmed by the influx and are taking advantage of our vulnerability.  They do this by creating realistic looking emails and enticing us to click on them and enter our sensitive data before we realize it is a scam.

New system for remote access to IAS resources

Dear Faculty, Members, Visitors, and Staff,

We are pleased to introduce you to the next generation of secure remote access to IAS network resources when traveling or working from home.

Our new VPN system, known as OpenVPN, is easier to use, has a higher level of security, and is compatible with more devices than the previous system.  Via this announcement, we are encouraging everyone to transition their devices to the new platform.  To begin to leverage OpenVPN, please see the Installation Guide, located at:

Changes to Central Authentication Service (CAS) front page

Dear Staff,

I'm writing to let you know of a change happening on June 27th, 2018 to our Central Authentication Service (CAS) front page.  CAS is used for a single place to sign in for many of our websites that we use here at the IAS.  We are upgrading to a new version, which will involve an update to the front page where you type in your username and password.

Old CAS login screen:

New CAS login screen:

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