Thursday, August 30, 2012

Google Groups Go Live at BVSD!

One of the great collaborative features of Google is Google Groups. A Google Group is an online environment for discussing items related to a specific subject, such as high school football, or related to a group of people, such as principals or all BVSD staff (which I’m using to communicate this blog). 

Last week the ability to create Google Groups was enabled for everyone at BVSD. With this ability comes an assumed level of responsibility in regard to naming your groups. 

Naming Conventions
  1. Names should be descriptive and specific, not generic like “Football Team” (think of how many football teams we have in BVSD).
  2. Names should follow this format: of group
    1. Some examples: A chess club at Monarch High would be MOH.Chess Club. A lacrosse team at Emerald Elementary would be EME.Lacrosse.

Below is a list of descriptors for each school or function. Most school name descriptors are constructed from the first two letters of the school’s name, with the third letter designating the level.

If the appropriate descriptor is not in the name of your Google Group, the Group will be automatically removed. With that in mind, if you have a Group that does not conform to this critical naming standard, please update it no later than Sept 7, 2012. 

You can find more information on BVSD usage/creation of Groups by clicking here. You can find more information about Google Groups from Google by clicking here.

If you would like to comment on this blog, don’t forget to login to the blog site in the upper right hand corner.   


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Passwords and Account Security

The start of a new school year is a great time to think about BVSD account security. Everyone plays a part in keeping data safe. We in IT manage the servers that store your data and the networks that transmit your data. But the most powerful and effective way to protect BVSD data is for everyone to have a strong password. Like locking your front door, a strong password will deter thieves, especially those looking for an easy way into your account.

During the past year we had several issues with spammers, who were able to send millions of spam/phishing emails via hacked BVSD accounts. Unfortunately, one of these attacks rendered all BVSD email addresses blocked (blacklisted) for several days. Not only were the individual accounts affected, but all BVSD accounts were unable to send or receive messages outside of BVSD.

Incidents like these can be avoided if we all follow a few simple guidelines. 

Create a Strong Password (now required)
  1. Create a strong password with at least eight characters and a minimum of three of the four characteristics below (this is a new BVSD requirement):
    1. Must have at least one capital letter
    2. Must have at least one lowercase letter
    3. Must have at least one number
    4. Must have at least one symbol
    5. Click Here to change your password now
  2. Change your password every 90 days (planned implementation in January).
  3. Don’t reuse the same passwords.
  4. Don't use repeating digits like 1111, 7777.

Keep Your Password Safe
  1. Don’t share your password with anyone.
  2. Don’t use the same password for multiple services.
  3. Don't send your password in an email or instant message. IT will never ask for your password. Be suspicious of anyone who asks for your password.

Consider Using a Passphrase
An even better way to create a strong password is to create what is called a passphrase. A passphrase can be an entire phrase or an abbreviation of a phrase. For instance, The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog! becomes Tqbfjotld! A passphrase should be:
  1. Known only to you   
  2. A minimum of eight characters    
  3. Hard to guess -- even by someone who knows you well
  4. Easy for you to remember       
  5. Easy for you to type accurately   

Security is a shared responsibility. We need your help to keep BVSD accounts safe and to keep email running smoothly. 

Please chime in on what you think by first logging into this blog (upper right corner) and then responding.