All About ITS
From keeping the Pace Community safe from harm to building infrastructure that keeps our University going, ITS is an invaluable component of our Setter life. This is what they do.
You've probably communicated with the fine folks at ITS through a Help Desk ticket, or perhaps an in-person troubleshooting. However, there is much more to the department that ensures the (virtual) lights remain on. This month, Assistant Vice President Beth Gordon, PhD, and Support Centers/Communications Manager Gabriel Moreno chat with Opportunitas about everything that goes into running a successful Information Technology Services department.
1. What is something that most people don't realize or know about the ITS?
Beth: We do a lot of protection for the Pace Community that people aren't aware of. There are many things happening behind the scenes in terms of information security. The front side of this is we're reminding people to change their passwords, to not open phishing emails, but we're actually stopping a lot of hacking attempts at the gates and keeping the Pace Community secure. It's under the radar for the most part, because we are doing a good job of it. The flip side of that, the part we are trying to promote, is that we need the Pace Community's help with this effort. We cannot do this alone, we cannot keep Pace safe alone, so we need every member of the Pace Community to be vigilant about using strong passwords, not sharing those passwords, being discriminating when opening emails, and clicking on attachments. If people are unsure about a particular link or attachment, they should not click on it. This is really a partnership to keep Pace safe.
Gabe: We try to communicate as much as possible—twice per semester, we send out newsletters to all faculty, staff, and students with all the information that we collect as far as what's happening in our division with technology and system upgrades, and anything else that we want to let folks know. In addition, we have an email distribution list for IT Notices, where we communicate with our subscribers on a timely basis. Faculty, staff, and students can subscribe by visiting the ITS News and Important Notices website. They can also follow us via Twitter, Facebook, or our ITS blog.
2. What are a few simple things faculty, staff, and students can do to make your department's life easier?
Gabe: As Beth alluded to before, always try to use strong passwords. It really helps to minimize a lot of the issues that happen, where passwords get compromised because they were easy to break. Hackers know all the tricks, they know people's habits, and they try to take advantage of that. And that's where some people get into trouble, because their passwords weren't as strong as they should be. We list our password guidelines, so be sure to visit this link.
Some quick tips are:
- >> Use longer passwords; they are more secure
- >> Use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters, as well as uppercase and lowercase letters
- >> Use different passwords for different systems (e.g. MyPace, banking, personal email, social media, etc.). That way, if one account gets compromised, it should not affect your other accounts.
- >> Don't share your passwords with anyone else.
We also recommend that people refrain from visiting untrusted websites. And when you get those suspicious emails and you're not sure, do not open the attachment, do not click on the link, and if they're asking you to log into some system and/or provide your username and password, be very wary of that. If you're not sure, contact the Help Desk, and we will let you know if it's fraudulent. Many of those are phishing emails, and hackers try to fool people into providing their login information, which they can then take and use to compromise accounts and steal other information.
Beth: Something else people should do is back up their files, and keep up to date with ITS News. We regularly blast out updates about upgrades, downtime, and maintenance, and other important communications. We encourage people to stay up to date with our communications, and we also encourage Pace staff and faculty to keep their own tech skills current. One way they can do this is through Lynda.com—it's something that every Pace faculty member, staff, and student has access to, and it's a great way to ramp up on anything from excel to graphic design and programming. In terms of technology skills, it's a way everyone can keep current.
3. Is there anything in particular your department is working on that you would want more people to know about?
Beth: This summer we rolled out the Jabber Client to add the phones we installed across Pace. We are in the process of doing summer technology classrooms in over 150 classrooms and are also updating the Computer Resource Center in NYC. We have also added Ally to Blackboard, which is a tool that helps with accessibility. In a broader sense, we encourage members of the Pace Community to visit adam.pace.edu—it's a great resource where there's software that can be downloaded for personal machines. It's also where folks can go to reset their passwords. We also like to promote the ITS Self Help Center. This is a great resources for folks to browse through, do some of their own troubleshooting, and share the news with their own departments.
Gabe: We've implemented the ITS Self Help Center knowledge base last year as a convenient resource for our users, where they can quickly and easily search for answers to common ITS questions as well as instructions for accessing and using systems. We are continuing to add and update content on a regular basis, so it should remain fresh. It's a work in progress, however, so if folks cannot find what they need or have suggestions for new articles that they think we should add, we also provided a link to our feedback form at the bottom of the main search page, where they can leave a comment and we will definitely review it.
4. What do you enjoy most about working in ITS?
Gabe: I love working with people and helping to resolve their IT issues. I also like working on a variety of projects throughout the year, which keeps things interesting. There's a lot going on, so each day is different.
Beth: I enjoy helping people and innovating at the same time. I love the combination of both. We have so many exciting projects happening—upgrading classrooms into modern teaching spaces, upgrading tools to help with online and blended learning. There's a lot of innovation that's happening with teaching and learning as a result of technology and it's great to be part of this evolution.
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