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Information Technology Services Newsletter
June 2016

Cyber Security Incident Memo
Recently the University of Calgary experienced a widespread loss of access to multiple university services due to a cyber security incident involving ‘ransomware’.

Ransomware is malware introduced to a targeted device in which files are encrypted, or locked, and become inaccessible. Perpetrators then attempt to extract payment from the victim in exchange for the keys to de-crypt, or unlock, and recover the files.
The University of Calgary Incident:
The details of the incident have not been released. The media has reported that ransomware was used to block access to key institutional services including email and VPN (remote network access). University of Calgary has subsequently returned to normal operations.
What does this mean for U of T?
Information Technology Services is actively tracking this event. U of T cyber security practices are being evaluated to determine risk and any additional mitigation actions that can be taken. Concurrently, we recommend that all users follow safe computing practices to reduce the risk of ransomware and all other cyber security risks.   
Safe computing practices to follow: 
  • Ensure your computer software is up to date. Managed desktops at University of Toronto already have this protection in place.
  • Do not open suspicious email attachments or links.
  • Never share your personal login credentials. University of Toronto will never ask you for your username and password.
  • Ask your IT support team about browsers that protect against downloading malware.
  • Do not browse casually on a computer you use for work or that holds valuable information.  
  • Confirm your files are securely backed up in case you need to recover them. Managed desktops at University of Toronto already have this protection in place.
  • Apply the same care as well to your mobile devices and home computers.
Further advice:
We encourage you to contact your local IT support team if you have additional questions. See this link:

The community may also visit the Top 10 Online Safety Practices article below. 
Top 10 Online Safety Practices
Did you know?

ISEA Unit, Interim 

As of June 3rd, 2016, Information Security and Enterprise Architecture (ISEA) until will be under the interim leadership of Mike Wiseman, Manager of Security, who will assume the role of Acting Director, Information Security and Frank Boshoff, who will continue to provide leadership in the area of Enterprise Architecture.  

ITS Organizational Structure Update:

The community can now access the latest ITS Organizational Structure chart on our website at this link. 
ITS Committees:

No committee dates set for June

Articles of Interest
10 Common Process Improvement Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

What happened when a professor built a chatbot to be his teaching assistant

Gender Diversity in Cybersecurity

Online Workshop: Accessibility For Instructional Design, June 23, 2016

The Institute for Performance and Learning is putting on an online workshop where attendees walk away with immediately-applicable tips and techniques to make their instructional media accessible.

More information and registration

Excellence Through Innovation Awards

UTALERT Mass Communications Team Recognized with an Excellence Through Innovation Award

UTAlert was implemented as a consolidated mass communications vehicle to notify students, faculty and staff via email, phone, SMS, social media, and other media when important information, including crisis alerts, needed to be issued. UTAlert’s interface permits communication across multiple media via a single dashboard.

Key aspects include:
  • Rapid creation and delivery of messages
  • Consistent messaging across selected channels
  • Pre-loaded templates and scripts for rapid message creation Integrated metrics and reporting on direct contact channels (email, SMS, phone) to verify delivery
  • Capacity to issue messages to discrete groups (e.g., employee groups, campuses, communities such as faculty, staff, or students)

The process has created a method for generating a consolidated, up-to-date dataset from multiple sources including HRIS and ROSI. The service operates with 365/24/7 support from Blackboard Connect allowing executives to access support any time and to send messages from offsite locations if needed (in the event of campus system outage, UTALERT is still enabled for access)

The service includes the ability for the Executive on Call or Crisis Manager to send messages, even if no staff or computers are available to assist, via a direct line to the Bb Connect client concierge. With the development of protocols, guidelines and templates, the university is better positioned to communicate during an emergency.

Don't miss any alerts, REGISTER TODAY.

UTAlert is a service that allows the University to quickly send important messages via telephone, email and text. Alert complements U of T websites and social media. Register with your UTORid today at

Remember the Universal Translator from Star Trek? 

There is now a better Microsoft version. Skype users on PC can now use the Skype Translator, an online translator which can help you communicate in 7 languages for voice calls, and in more than 50 languages while instant messaging.  Try it here.
Don't forget...
Administrative Web Services is U of T's Single Point of Access for a variety of online applications for staff and faculty. It replaced AMS Campus Business Connect in late 2015. It is the most convenient point of access for a variety of tools, including expense reimbursements, Taleo, ESS and many other services.

Bookmark it today! 
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