ITS gives tips for more secure internet usage

Emma Olsen, Writer

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Information Technology Services (ITS) is known on campus for doing maintenance checks—and sending many emails about it—as well as for being there to help students with their technology-related problems. With issues ranging from password issues to protecting against phishing emails, ITS has a lot to do around campus. But what exactly does a day in the life look like for ITS staff?

End User Support Specialist Nate Robeck says he does a lot for his job at ITS. “We do a lot of troubleshooting for staff members with computer issues, setting up new computers, printer issues… Anything you would probably call IT for, generally is gonna have something to do with what I do.”

It is difficult to describe a typical day in the life as an ITS employee for multiple reasons. Firstly, there are many different jobs within ITS, so not everyone specializes in the same things.

“The support desk, which is where I work … We [receive] all the calls and decide who they need to get referred to. Sometimes it’s me, sometimes it’s our Blackboard admin … or we have a web master who does website stuff. Pretty much anything where someone’s touching the computer, that’s me,” Robeck said.

It’s also hard to define a day in the life because every day is so different.

“There is no such thing as a typical work day,” Robeck says. “Some days I’m at my desk most of the day. Other days, I spend maybe a half hour total at my desk. It varies a lot.”

This variation is not unwelcome, though, according to Robeck. “My favorite part of the job is probably getting to interact with pretty much everybody on campus. I mean, I’m all over campus all day.”

Although the job does consist of varying tasks every day, there is still some semblance of routine. The ITS support desk is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday, so staff aren’t subject to odd hours.

While the days are different, there are common problems that ITS deals with regularly. For example, one of the most common problems that students need help with is forgetting their password. “We’ll help them either reset it, or walk them through what the normal reset process is so they know for the future,” Robeck said.

He also says it is a common misconception that ITS has access to your passwords. ITS can not see your passwords, even for Linfield accounts, so they can not simply pull up a list and find your password. If a student forgets their login information, the only solution is to reset their passwords.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. Changing passwords regularly is important for maintaining security anyway. This is why Linfield requires students to change their passwords fairly often. It prevents any potential security breaches from getting out of hand.

Robeck gave some tips for creating a more secure password. “Longer is better. You want it to be memorable. If you have a password manager, that is great.” A password manager is a piece of software in which you only have to remember one long password, like a short phrase. That password will give you access to all your passwords to everything, so you can make them more complex without having to worry about remembering them.

A secure password is one of the best ways students can protect themselves against cyber attacks. Another thing they can do is be cautious about links they click on websites, especially when downloading free software. “Often times if you’re not paying attention, there’s little checkboxes that say ‘install this, too,’” Robeck says. This tricks people into accidentally downloading things they don’t want.

Lastly, Robeck cleared up the mystery of what the deal is with those phishing emails. Fairly regularly, everyone on campus receives a warning about a new phishing email trying to get people’s information, but it seems like no students receive the actual phishing email.

This is because phishing emails are more likely to be sent to staff than students, Robeck says. “They’re fairly common for employees because our email addresses are public on the website for people to be able to contact us, so people doing phishing scams will write a little piece of software that goes through the website and pulls all the email addresses it can find.”

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ITS gives tips for more secure internet usage