Students Staff

May 30, 2017

Students – be on the lookout for emails asking you to log in to FASER

Filed under: Uncategorized — Benjamin Steeples @ 12:35 pm

Please be aware of a new phishing scam email that has been sent to some University members.

If you receive an email asking you to log in to FASER to check feedback, please ensure that you are taken to the University of Essex web site (beginning

The content of the email itself will likely look something like this:
You can view feedback for this assignment at <link to malicious site>
University of Essex :: E-learning at Essex :: Welcome to FASER
The University of Stanford: information about departments, services and academic and social life at the University.
The details of your feedback are below:
Follow the link to update <link to malicious site>

Module: GV218-5-SU
Assignment: 16a2
Upload time: 29 May 2017 14:20
Uploaded by: <user>

IT Services is taking necessary actions to investigate and block further emails of this nature. If you think you have received a scam or phishing email, stay calm and delete it – there’s no harm in simply receiving a phishing email. For more information on how to spot an email scam, take a look at the IT Services blog. Also see top tips for spotting a phishing email from.

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[Service Alert] Internet connectivity issues

Filed under: Network, Wi-Fi, [Resolved], [Service Alert] — Dan Jolly @ 11:28 am

Update 15:20

The Jisc network has suffered a further loss of connectivity which is affecting the University’s internet access. For regular updates about this incident see Jisc’s Twitter:

More information to follow.


Original alert 11:28

Over the last hour or so you may have noticed a problem accessing the internet and some websites. This was due to a loss of service on the Janet network – the UK’s academic and research network the University connects to.

Janet have informed us they are seeing an improvement in connectivity and continue to monitor the situation closely.

If you’re still experiencing network problems, contact the IT Helpdesk.

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May 19, 2017

Improvements to FASER

Filed under: Elearning, FASER, News — Benjamin Steeples @ 3:12 pm

FASER originally started life as a project in Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (CSEE). When it was adopted by IT Services in 2005/6, FASER had roughly 5,000 submissions per academic year.
Since then the number of students has increased, but behind the scenes FASER has remained largely unchanged. 2015/16 saw nearly 150,000 student submissions in addition to 120,000 items of feedback, that’s over 50x the number of items FASER was initially designed for. Despite a partial rewrite of FASER in 2011 its performance has not scaled as well as we’d hoped, and last year it was clear that more drastic action was needed.

Over the last year we’ve been working hard on a new and improved version of FASER, developed in response to feedback from staff and students. The main goal of this new version has been to change the underlying infrastructure, paving the way for future enhancements and providing a modest performance and usability improvement. Other improvements include:

  • Implementing Single-Sign-On (SSO) to reduce the number of login prompts.
  • Ensuring FASER only reloads parts of the page that have changed, rather than reloading the entire page every time. We have combined this with additional caching of information and some database changes to ensure that pages and information loads faster than before.
  • Adding calls to action to FASER. These guide staff to common outstanding tasks relating to an assignment, and reduce the number of clicks and page loads required to achieve that task.
  • Rewriting the majority of FASER to take advantage of MVC software design. This allows us to separate the code responsible for the appearance, logic, and underlying data of FASER, and enables us to make changes to the service in a quicker and more responsive manner.
  • Finally, we have taken the opportunity to fix a lot of minor annoyances and bugs in FASER.

These are major changes to FASER, and things are still a little rough around the edges. To help us refine these improvements we have invited nearly 100 members of the University to trial this new version. With their help we hope to release this new version to all staff and students for the start of the 2017/18 academic year.







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May 15, 2017

WannaCrypt/WannaCry ransomware guidance

Filed under: News, Security — Dan Jolly @ 4:45 pm

You may be aware of news reports of ransomware attacks on the NHS and many other organisations around the world.

Ransomware is a malicious computer virus that can stop you from using your computer or accessing your data unless you pay a ransom fee.

This particular attack is exploiting a vulnerable protocol (SMBv1) found in older versions of Microsoft Windows that do not have the latest updates.

Impact on the University

So far, IT Services monitoring shows that no University computers have been affected, and our IT security measures, including network and firewall protection, regular software patching, antivirus and spam email filtering, are proving effective.

We continue to monitor the situation and are taking further measures to reduce the risk of infection.

Advice for staff and students

If your personal or home computer is running Windows XP, you should install the MS17-010 patch from Microsoft immediately. You should also consider upgrading as soon as possible because Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft and this puts you at risk.

The best way to protect yourself from attacks like this is to always:

  • Keep your computer and antivirus software up-to-date.
  • Remain vigilant when opening attachments or links in unsolicited emails (see our advice on email phishing scams).
  • Keep a copy of all your important files so you have a backup if the worst comes to the worst.

Help and more information

Further guidance on information security is available on the IT Services website. If you have any concerns about this or other attacks, please contact the IT Helpdesk for advice.

Also see:

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May 9, 2017

Drop-in sessions with TEL, IT Training and the Library

Filed under: Elearning, Events, FASER, IT Training, Library IT, Listen Again, Lynda, Moodle — sgswaine @ 1:53 pm
Supporting teaching and learning

Supporting teaching and learning

Would you like some help designing your Moodle module or embedding a Lynda video? Do have some questions about building your Talis Aspire reading lists or how to provide feedback on FASER?

Come along to our drop-in sessions during May and June, where someone from TEL, IT Training or the Library, will be on hand to help you with these and any other questions you might have about technologies used in teaching, learning and assessement.

You can just pop in for as little, or for as long as you want. Just let us know if it will be in the morning or afternoon by booking a place on HR Organiser (login with your Essex ID and password).


Sessions dates and times:

23/05/17 10:00-13:00 and 13:00-16:00
31/05/17 10:00-13:00 and 13:00-16:00
06/06/17 10:00-13:00 and 13:00-16:00
14/06/17 10:00-13:00 and 13:00-16:00

TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning)
IT Training (IT Services)

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