Information Technology Services at The University of Iowa

Archive for August, 2007

Hawk Alert emergency notification system rolls out

Friday, August 31st, 2007

hawkalert-logo.jpgITS is teaming up with the UI Department of Public Safety to enable a new emergency notification system on the University’s main campus and the Oakdale campus.

Dubbed “Hawk Alert,” the system uses the Connect-ED service developed especially for schools, including colleges and universities. It allows delivery of a message to tens of thousands of cell phone numbers, home phone numbers, work phone numbers or e-mail accounts within seconds. The system is intended for emergency notification only, delivering messages about severe weather, violence, hazardous material incidents or other situations that pose a threat to students, faculty, and staff.

“In an emergency, it’s critical that we be able to reach all members of the University community in as short an amount of time as possible,” says Mark Katsouros, Director of TNS. “Hawk Alert will allow us to do that in a manner that’s much faster and more efficient than our current mass mail system.”

The first phase of Hawk Alert was implemented Sept. 1. A second phase, set to launch by Nov. 1, will add text messaging capabilities.

The University also has installed a series of notification towers equipped with sirens and voice systems, which also will help ensure that those on campus hear alerts and warnings.

University administrators are urging all students, staff, and faculty to add or update their cell and other phone numbers in the campus directory as soon as possible. To do that, log in to Employee Self Service and click “Name and Address Change” under the Name and Addresses tab. Input the information into the field marked “Alternate Phone” in the Residing Address tab.

Cell phone numbers populated in the “Alternate Phone” field are intended for emergency use only, and it is not the University’s intent that they will be listed in any public directories.

CITL meeting – 24 August

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

There will be a CITL meeting on August 24 from 10:30-noon in UCC Seminar Room (2520D). More information can be found here:

IT Security Office Helps Detect Web Application Vulnerabilities

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

security.jpgThe IT Security Office is offering a new tool for detecting security vulnerabilities in Web applications, including exploitation using Structured Query Language (SQL) injection techniques.

The Acunetix Web Vulnerability Scanner detects Web-application flaws that allow SQL injection and others actions that could potentially be exploited by hackers. It can be used to evaluate any University-owned system, and typically takes only an hour or two to complete. The scan produces a report in .pdf format that is e-mailed to the system owner or application developer. A member of the Security team then can consult with the owner/developer to offer a high-level interpretation of the results.

SQL injection attacks are becoming more common. These attacks take advantage of improper coding in certain features (including Web input and database search forms), allowing an intruder to “inject” SQL commands to be executed on the underlying SQL database service. With this type of attack, there is potential for any data stored in the database, such as Social Security numbers or other sensitive information, to be accessed by the attacker without permission – and without the application owner’s knowledge.

The Acunetix Web Vulnerability Scanner also specializes in identifying other common Web and browser application vulnerabilities, such as cross site scripting (XSS) and e-mail addresses on Web pages that are common targets for spammers.

For more information, or to schedule a Web server scan, e-mail the IT Security Office at

ExLibris Users of North America (ELUNA) 2007 Conference and North American Customer Technical Seminar

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

Three AIS staff members, John Osborn, Dale Spencer, and Kay Barron, attended two different events in Spearfish, South Dakota related to the support of our various library applications provided by our vendor, Ex Libris. The goal of attending these conferences was to keep abreast of high-level ExLibris community developments, continue networking with other institutions, and to track progress on some of the new ExLibris products. There were specialized sessions on all of the ExLibris products, general technical sessions, and poster presentations.

At this conference ExLibris presented their concept of a Unified Resource Management framework for managing all their library services. The new framework involves migrating to more open development tools (e.g. java) standardization of the database tier, and better separation of the application/presentation tiers. Migration to the new framework is expected to take many years.

ICON Will Be Down for an Upgrade in Early August

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

icon_logo_60.jpgOn 7-8 August, ICON will be down for a scheduled upgrade. More details can be found here.

ITS Has Been Busy Helping with Freshman Orientation

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

hd-orientation.jpgThe Customer Information Desk and Help Desk have recently completed working with Orientation Services and Admissions at 9 Freshmen Orientation Information Fairs in June and July. Over 9600 parents and students attended these fairs and were given information, pens, candy and had their questions answered by CID and Help Desk staff. One of this year’s most frequently answered questions was ‘Should we be buying a laptop or a desktop computer?’ followed closely by ‘What do you really think about Windows Vista, is it okay to use?’ Help Desk staff also had the opportunity to present a 30 minute session titled ‘Computing at Iowa’ followed by at least 15 minutes of questions 3 times at each of the 9 sessions (yes, they really did that presentation 27 times!) for about 2000 parents and students. One big change in the presentations was the opportunity to talk to both parents and students on the first day of orientation. Orientation Services received very positive feedback from the parents and students who attended this session that we will have this same opportunity next year as well. In addition to the two-day freshmen orientation sessions, the Help Desk has also staffed 8 transfer orientation sessions to answer questions for 1626 parents and students. Approximately 2,500 Technology Survival Guides were distributed at these orientation events.

Busy Schedule for Fall Orientations

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

August is a busy month for many of us in ITS as we get ready for the start of the fall semester and the return of many students and faculty members who leave Iowa City for the summer. A big part of getting ready for the start of the semester includes getting new students, faculty and staff members ready for their new jobs and classes. August is one of the busiest months for orientation events and we thought that many of you might want to know when these events are scheduled so that you can have information available for us to share about your services. If you would like to make information available to any of these audiences, please contact Virginia Drake. For your reference, here is a calendar of upcoming events:

  • August 1 – New Faculty and Staff Orientation
  • August 14 – RA Information Fair (information fair for Resident Assistants in the Residence Halls)
  • August 21 – Transfer Student Orientation
  • August 21 – New Faculty and Staff Orientation (primarily new Faculty)
  • August 22 – Transfer Student Orientation
  • August 22 – Graduate Student Information Fair
  • August 23 – Transfer Student Orientation
  • August 23 – Medical Student Information Fair
  • August 24 – Transfer Student Orientation
  • August 27 – Law Student Information Fair
  • September 4 – New Faculty and Staff Orientation
  • September 18 – New Faculty and Staff Orientation