Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The GHOST Vulnerability

Orange ghost


A serious flaw has been discovered in a range of Linux distributions. The GHOST vulnerability potentially allows attackers to gain control of a remote system via a weakness in the glibc library and affects many stable and long-term-support distributions. Debian 7 (wheezy), Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 & 7, CentOS 6 & 7 and Ubuntu 12.04 are all vulnerable.

We are patching machines managed by us to make sure they aren't vulnerable. We'll also take care of patching virtual machines hosted by us in our VMWare estate.

If you are responsible for any Linux servers or desktops, please ensure they are patched as soon as possible. Patches for the most common distributions are already available. Systems built on Linux architecture (e.g. control systems, NAS drives etc) may not have a patch available yet, so please keep an eye on the vendors website/security patches as usual.


If you want to know more about the GHOST vulnerability here’s the original blog post from Qualys

Please feel free to contact us at helpdesk@sheffield.ac.uk if you’d like further information about this vulnerability, general good practice, hosting systems with CiCS or any other security related matters.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

What is MyEcho?


Some of you may have heard of MyEcho before but there’s a majority of you that either haven’t heard of it at all or at least haven’t used it before. A brief description of MyEcho would be that it is the University’s Lecture Capture solution, allowing lecturers to have their lectures recorded so that their students can watch anywhere at anytime. It can however be so much more than this, it can help you to change the way that your approach teaching.

The traditional lecture hasn’t changed much in hundreds of years, still consisting of the lecturer explaining concepts to the students. The amount of information that we now have and that students need to learn is increasing but the lecture plan is staying the same and that is leading to a gap. The average lecturer can speak 120 words a minute, whereas the average student can only write down 60 words per minute.

MyEcho allows students to spend more time actively involving with the class or understanding the material as they can be confident that they will be able to take notes later. It is also helpful for students whose first language isn’t English, allowing them to playback the content at their own pace.

MyEcho has been increasing in usage over the past years but there is still more room to grow as more academics request for their lectures to be recorded. Lecture Capture is a quick, easy way to increase the involvement of students.

The Facts - Increasing Usage
  • 2012-13 600 Recordings
  • 2013-14 900 Recordings
  • 2014-15 On course for 1100 Recordings
We are also looking at improving the way you can request that your lectures are recorded. We have been working closely with the Room Bookings team so that now, when you are submitting your requests for teaching spaces next year, you are able to request MyEcho as a resource. We have also been able to start getting Classroom Capture, the software version, onto to some Managed Machines. These two factors together mean that MyEcho is now more accessible than ever, being easier to request and available in more spaces.

We can now also offer MOLE publishing, meaning that your recordings can be posted directly to a MOLE course as soon as they are ready. This goes hand in hand with Seamless Authentication, allowing you to restrict recordings so that only students enrolled on that module can view them. This allows for statistics tracking so that you can see what students are watching and how much they are watching.

So Why Aren’t you Using it?

Many people hold reservations about introducing Lecture Capture. Firstly many believe that it will lead to a drop in attendance, many studies have been conducted into this area and the vast majority report that there is no link between Lecture Capture provision and lower Attendance. Some reports even find a slight increase as students judge they can ‘get more from a lecture’. Other believe it may be difficult and time consuming; in reality it is very easy. You book your recording, turn up and give the lecture and its already being published by the time you leave the room. Within a few hours it can be shared or automatically posted to MOLE so your involvement can be very low whilst still gaining a lot.

If you or your department are interested in starting to use, or increasing your usage, then contact myecho@sheffield.ac.uk to discuss options or even arrange a departmental visit.