Keep Adobe Flash Updated–But Be Careful

Adobe Flash Player is installed on most computers to allow video content to be displayed in browsers. It’s critical to keep it updated, but important not to install a fake update. Please read on.

It seems like every other week we read about vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash Player that require an update. These are serious issues–they can allow malware and ransomware to be installed on your computer–so it’s important to keep Flash updated. Unfortunately we have also seen reports of fake Flash updates being used to install malware on Mac’s and PC’s.

So how do you keep Flash updated without falling for the fake updates? Flash has an option to automatically check for and install updates, which will protect you against being out of date and also from being scammed into installing malware.

If you have installed recent versions of Flash you will have a a utility in your Control Panel (PC) or System Preferences (Mac) that allows you to set update options:

  1. Open up the Control Panel from the Windows Start menu or System Preferences from your Apple Menu. If you’re on Windows make sure that your Control Panel is set to “Small Icons” display by choosing it from the little menu in the top right of the window.
  2. Select “Flash Player.” It might be called “Flash Player (32-bit)” or something like that.
  3. On the ribbon, click “Updates.”
  4. Choose the “Allow Adobe to install updates” option.
  5. Close up the window and you’re all set.

Now you no longer have to wonder if you are up to date with Flash, and security updates will be automatically installed. If you receive an alert to update Flash when you are working in your browser, always decline to install it; you can then go to the Control Panel or System Preferences and have the Flash Update panel check for you.

If you don’t have the Control Panel or System Preferences icon then you don’t have a recent version of Flash installed. If you want to install the newest Flash, go to https://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/ and choose “Install Now.” But another caution: Adobe often tries to sneak in add-ons like McAfee Security or True Key, especially on Windows systems. If you do go to Adobe to download Flash, make sure to uncheck any Optional Offers you are presented with.

Keeping Mail Under Quota in Crunch Time

If you’re approaching your email quota there are some quick tips to get you under quota. You can skip right to the strategies if you want, or read a little about the quota first.

About Hampshire’s Email Quota

Your email quota is 2.5 GB (gigabytes) of storage. Included in this is everything in your Inbox, any mail folders you have, email trash and mail you’ve sent. If you receive attachments with email those also count towards your quota.

Where to Check How Much of the Quota You’ve Used

If you’re in Webmail, the percentage of quota you’ve used will show up at the bottom of the panel on the left when you’re looking at a list of messages (it disappears when you read a specific message). If you’re in Thunderbird it will show up on the bottom right if you get up to 80% usage. You can also go to https://password.hampshire.edu to see your quota displayed graphically.

In addition to you keeping your eye on your quota, our system monitors quotas as well. As you approach the quota limit you will start receiving warning messages from Hampshire IT.

What Happens when You’re Over Quota

If you do reach quota you will no longer receive new emails until you bring it down under 100%. Note that messages that would put you over quota will never be delivered to your mailbox, so if you’re close to quota and are sent a large message and a small message, the large message could be refused but the small message might be able to be delivered.

While you are over quota, messages that are sent to you will not be able to get into your inbox, but they’ll keep trying at increasing intervals. Once you bring your storage enough under quota you will receive the messages that have been waiting to be delivered; note that this might take some time because it depends on the delivery attempt interval. If you wait too long to bring your usage down–more than a week, perhaps–the sender will give up and the mail will fail to deliver.

One side-effect of being at quota level is that you may not be able to store copies of messages that you send. Normally when you send a message a copy is stored in the Sent folder. If you send a message while you’re at quota, you get an error that the message couldn’t be saved in the Sent folder; the message has been sent but you won’ t have a copy of it.

Quick Strategies for Getting Under Quota

Try them all or pick & choose what works for you.

  • Empty your email trash. Right-click (or Control-click on a Mac) on your email trash can and select “Empty” or “Empty Trash.”
  • In Webmail, view more messages at once. Deleting messages is easier if you can see a large list at once. Go to the Settings panel and in Preferences/Mailbox View change the “Rows per page” to the maximum of 200. Make sure to click “Save” to keep the changes.
  • Delete a bunch of messages at once. To delete a group of messages at once, click the first message to delete and then Shift-click (hold down the shift key while clicking) the last message to delete. Then use the “Delete” key on your keyboard to send them in your trash. Now empty your trash to really delete them.
  • Delete messages from your sent mail folder. Email messages that you send are automatically saved in a folder called “Sent.” Select that folder and delete any sent messages you can live without.
  • Get the biggest bang for your buck. Quota issues are often related to the size of attachments in a few messages. To find the biggest files, sort your messages in order of size and tackle the biggest ones. In Webmail, simply click on the “Size” column header twice (the first time it sorts from smallest to largest, and the second click reverses that). Save any important attachments to your computer and then delete the message. In Thunderbird:
    1. If you don’t have a “Size” column header at the top, click on the little icon all the way to the right of the column headings.
    2. Check “Size.”
    3. You can now click on the “Size” column header twice to sort them with the largest messages on top.
    4. Thunderbird has the option to detach attachments from messages, so that you can keep the email message in your inbox without the attachment. Select the message with the attachment you want to detach, and use the “Message→Attachments→Detach All” menu to save the attachment(s) to disk and keep just the message in your inbox.

When you’re done, don’t forget to click on the “Date” header (twice) to get your messages sorted by date received again.

  • Use Thunderbird’s Local Folders. If you’re using Thunderbird, you can create “Local Folders”, which store email on your computer instead of the server. The advantage is that anything in a local folder doesn’t use your quota space; the disadvantage is that they exist only on your computer and if you don’t have a backup system in place you could potentially lose the messages. To move messages to local folders:
    1. Right-click (or Control-click on a Mac) the “Local Folders” heading on the left-side panel in Thunderbird, and choose “New Folder…”.
    2. Enter a name for your new folder, such as “2008 Inbox”.
    3. Go back up to your email messages and select the group of messages to transfer to this local folder (remember to use click/shift-click to select a big group of messages).
    4. Right-click (or Control-click on a Mac) somewhere on the selected group of messages, and chose “Move To…” and navigate to the Local Folder you just created.
  • Empty the trash and then compact when you’re done. Empty the trash if you’ve deleted more messages. To make sure you’ve recovered the maximum space possible, it’s also a good idea to compact the Inbox–this happens automatically a lot of the time but it doesn’t hurt to do it explicitly. Right-click (or Control-click on a Mac) on the Inbox and choose “Compact.”

 

A Great Use for Old Flashdrives

Do you have any old, unneeded flash drives lying around? Now you can use them to help subvert the North Korean government.

The Flashdrives for Freedom project, run jointly by Human Rights Foundation and Forum 280, is collecting working USB flashdrives of any capacity. They will be erased and sent to North Korean refugee organizations, loaded with information and culture from the outside world, and then smuggled into North Korea.

Although the drives will be erased before being sent out from Flashdrives for Freedom, we recommend that you first erase them securely if they contain any personal information. If you aren’t sure how to do that you can bring the flashdrive to the Student Diagnostic Center on the 3rd floor of the library and we will do it for you.

Visit flashdrivesforfreedom.org

All Together Now

If you access your email from multiple devices or programs, you might find that you have several different folders containing sent mail. Here’s how to combine them.

Email programs keep a copy of the messages that you send and store them in a sent mail folder. Unfortunately there’s no industry standard for the name of this folder, so sent mail often gets split between multiple folders. If you’ve been at Hampshire for several years you may have a folder called “sent-mail” as well as “Sent” or “Sent Messages.” It’s handy to set up your email on every device you use to save sent mail to the same folder.

One note: most people on campus store their email up on the server using a protocol called “IMAP.” If instead you “POP” your email in Thunderbird you won’t be able to combine your sent folder. To check whether you’re POP or IMAP, in Thunderbird select “Tools→Account Settings,” select “Server Settings” and check the “Server Type.” If you only use Webmail to access your mail then you don’t have to worry about this.

Finding your Sent Mail Folders

The first step is to find out where your various email programs are storing sent mail. What’s tricky is that many mail programs, including Thunderbird and Webmail, show the name “Sent” for wherever they are storing sent mail, even if the actual folder has a completely different name. To see what the folder’s real name is you have to go behind the scenes.

  • In Webmail, select “Settings,” and then “Special Folders.”
  • In Thunderbird, select “Tools→Account Settings,” and then select “Copies and Folders.” Your sent mail folder is listed in the top section on the right.
  • On an iPhone or iPad, go to “Settings,” and then “Mail, Contacts, Calendars.” Select your Hampshire account, and then select it again. Scroll down and select “Advanced,” and look in the “Mailbox Behaviors” section. To combine mail folders you will have to choose a folder in the “On the Server” section.
  • If you use another app for email, K-9 on Android, for instance, you can usually find this information using a web search for the name of the program and “sent mail folder.”

Some mail programs do not allow you to specify the sent mail folder.

Choosing your Sent Mail Folder

It doesn’t really matter which folder you decide to use for sent mail, unless one of the programs you use doesn’t let you specify; in that case, use whatever folder it uses.

Once you decide which mail folder you’re going to use, go back to each mail program and select that folder as your sent message folder.

Moving Messages into Your Unified Sent Mail Folder

Now that all your future sent messages are going to one sent folder, you may want to consider moving old sent messages into that one folder as well. This is only worth it if you refer to your sent messages frequently. To move them, use either Webmail or Thunderbird. Select all the messages you want to move, and then drag them or right-click on them to move them to the unified sent mail folder.

Trouble with VPN?

If you use a PC and get booted off of Hampshire’s VPN after working for a bit, we have a solution for you.

About VPN

As you probably know, VPN (Virtual Private Network) is used when you are off-campus but want to access restricted network resources, especially file servers like newmisserver and patterson. Connecting through VPN makes it look to the network like you are on campus.

VPN vs. VPN2

We aren’t sure why, but our original VPN setup, vpn.hampshire.edu, kicks PC users off after a while. To get around that we set up a second VPN system, vpn2.hampshire.edu. There are some advantages to keeping the original VPN system in place, but we want to make PC users in particular aware of the second choice.

There are a couple of differences between VPN and VPN2:

  • VPN2 does not allow access to printers on campus. It’s pretty unusual for users to send print jobs from off-campus anyway, but if you do need to do that you should connect through the original VPN.
  • The printing restriction is actually part of a larger restriction that blocks direct access to IP addresses on campus. This is not something that IT supports in most cases, so it is not likely you are using it. If you don’t understand what I just wrote, rest assured that it is not going to affect you.
  • You cannot test your VPN2 connection from on campus. This I have learned the hard way, so I am happy to pass it on to you.

New to VPN?

If you are setting up VPN for the first time read the instructions. If you are setting it up on a Windows computer please enter the Internet Address as vpn2.hampshire.edu.

Switching to VPN2

There is no sense in switching to VPN2 unless you have had trouble on VPN, but if you have then switching to VPN2 is pretty easy:

  1. Find your VPN connection in the list of network connections that you can bring up from the taskbar on the lower right of your screen (unless you’ve moved your task bar to a different location, in which case you’re on your own).
  2. Right-click on the VPN connection and select “Properties.”
  3. In the window that comes up change the Internet Address to vpn2.hampshire.edu
  4. Close up the window, saving the changes, and you’re all set.

If you have had trouble using a Mac on VPN, you can try to switch to VPN2, but we aren’t aware of issues with Mac connections.

To change on a Mac:

  1. From the Apple Menu select System Preferences.
  2. Choose Network.
  3. Select your VPN setup from the panel on the left.
  4. Change your VPN server name to vpn2.hampshire.edu.
  5. Apply the changes and you are all set.

For problems or questions please contact the IT Help Desk at helpdesk@hampshire.edu or 413.559.5418.

Junk Mail Controls in Thunderbird

If too much–or not enough–email is ending up in your Junk mailbox, here’s how you can adjust Thunderbird’s behavior.
Thunderbird has adaptive junk mail settings. That means that it keeps track of messages that you mark as “junk” or “not junk” and uses them as a template for figuring whether incoming messages should be automatically marked as junk.

In order for the adaptive junk mail detection to have enough information to work well Thunderbird needs your help identifying roughly 100 junk mail messages and 100 non-junk messages. Once you’ve gone through this training period Thunerbird should be pretty good at recognizing what is junk and what isn’t.

Turning on Junk Mail Detection in Thunderbird

To have Thunderbird move junk mail into your Junk folder:
From the Thunderbird Tools menu select “Account Settings.”

  1. On the left, select “Junk Settings.”
  2. Check the box that says “Enable adaptive junk mail controls for this account.”
  3. Check “Move new junk messages to…”
  4. Click “OK to close the Account Settings box.

Training Thunderbird

If you’re using Thunderbird for the first time, you can go ahead and train it right away. If you’ve been using Thunderbird for a while and it’s picked up some bad habits regarding junk mail, it’s best to start with a clean slate by resetting it’s training data:

  1. In Thunderbird select Thunderbird–>Preferences from the menu.
  2. Click on “Security.”
  3. Select the “Junk” section.
  4. Click the “Reset Training Data” button on the bottom right.

Now when new messages come in, carefully mark them as Junk or Not Junk. There are several ways you can do this:

  • Select a message and type “Shift+J” (for not Junk) or “J” (for Junk).
  • Right-click on a message and choose “Mark -> As Junk” (or “As Not Junk”).
  • Select a message and from the “Message” menu, choose “Mark -> As Junk” (or “As Not Junk”).
  • Select a message and click on the “Junk” icon on the toolbar.
  • Select a message and click on the “Junk Status” column in the message-list pane (which will show a small “Junk” icon if the message is marked as junk).

Read more about Junk mail filtering in Thunderbird.

Update your Browser’s Extensions

Extensions are added to web browsers to allow them to present more content or enhance features. You may not realize that you’ve added any, but chances are you have some installed. Keep them updated to keep your computer safe.

Out of date extensions are a security risk, and unfortunately it’s not always obvious how to update them. You should check at least a couple of times a year to see if your extensions are updated. Here’s what to do in Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.

Firefox

  1. Start up Firefox and choose Tools→Add-ons.
  2. Click on “Plugins” on the left.
  3. At the top of the list of plugins, click on the link that says “Check to see if your plugins are up to date.”
  4. Firefox will go to a page with links to click on if you need updates. Click on each one that is marked as out of date, and install the new ones.
  5. Close the tab to finish.

Chrome

Chrome actually automatically checks for updates to extensions, but on its own schedule. If you want to update manually it’s a little bit hidden:

  1. Start up Chrome and choose Window→Extensions.
  2. Click on “Extensions” on the left.
  3. At the top-right of the list of plugins, check the box that says “Developer Mode.”
  4. Right under that button, click on “Update extensions now.”
  5. Close the tab and you’re done.

Safari

Safari can also automatically check for updates to extensions, but that option has to be turned on.

  1. Start up Safari and choose Safari →Preferences.
  2. Select “Extensions” from the top of the window.
  3. At the bottom of the list of extensions, click on “Updates.” Any extensions having updates available will be listed on the panel on the right.
  4. To force updates manually, click on the “Updates” button for each extension you want to update. If you are given a choice about updating from the Extensions Gallery or the website, choose the Gallery for an automatic update.
  5. To enable automatic extension updates, check the box that says, “Automatically update extensions from the Safari Extension Gallery.
  6. Close the Preferences window and you’re all set.