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December, 2008 - FE blog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The FE Blog
News and views from the Microsoft UK Education Team
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December, 2008

  • FE blog

    Saving money on software at Christmas


    Santa Claus is coming – and this year he’s going to have to cope with the credit crunch! There will still be loads of PCs bought this Christmas, and given the offers by retailers at the moment, there will be some great deals around.

    It might be a good time to remind your students & staff that they can buy Office 2007 Ultimate Edition at the bargain price of £38.95, through the Ultimate Steal offer. Not only will they get the top-end version (rather than the smaller Home & Student Edition), but they’ll pay less than the normal retail version.

    Of course, there’s some limits on who can buy:

    • They must have an email address than ends in “.ac.uk” to register & buy
    • FE Students must have 15 hours of scheduled contact time on their course
    • Staff must be employed for more than 8 hours per week (or 4, if teaching)

    Find out more at http://www.theultimatesteal.co.uk/?cid=ukedu

    There are some downloadable banners and promotional materials available here

  • FE blog

    Internet Explorer patch – time to roll it out


    I’m sure you’ve already got this covered, but just in case you have missed it, we released the update for Internet Explorer overnight to resolve the security glitch that the BBC et al have been getting all frothed up about.

    If you’ve got automatic updates set up on your own computer, or your network, then it’ll be heading straight down the Internet to you now, but if for some reason you haven’t then pop across to the Microsoft Security Response Centre blog at http://blogs.technet.com/msrc/default.aspx to read more about it, and actions to take.

    “…we released security update MS08-078, protecting customers from active attacks against Internet Explorer. This update will be applied automatically to hundreds of millions of customers through automatic updates over the next few days. And, for our enterprise customers - with multiple systems within their networks – this update can be deployed through all standard security update management systems including, SCCM, SMS, WSUS, and Windows Update.”

    You may also want to drop an email around staff to check they have Automatic Updates setup on their home computers – you’ll help them to keep themselves safe online. (A little more advice for staff at home later today)

    I know – it’s nearly the end of term and you were looking forward to a quiet week before everybody leaves you alone for a fortnight (do I mean staff or students?) to get on with your string of upgrades, changes and system backups. But if nothing else, making sure you’ve updated will mean you can shorten every corridor conversation with people who say “What about this thing I heard on the radio…”

  • FE blog

    The Fat Lady sings


    EdTheFed“Ed the Fed” has written to me again. For those who are new to the blog, Ed’s a legend around here as the Microsoft UK Chief Cyber-Security Advisor. We call him “Ed the Fed”, because of his career history at the FBI and other places – which obviously makes him an ideal person to ask about Information Security. (This cutout of Ed sits in our atrium!)

    Ed writes in a ‘unique’ style, and given that we’re approaching Christmas, I thought this might make an ideal email to pass on to colleagues in college. And Ed really does mean it when he signs off with his email address – he’s always keen to respond to questions and offer advice.

    For more good advice from Ed, take a look at “Ed the Fed says Stay Safe out There” from earlier this year.

    Anyway, over to Ed:



    . .. .Yes, pigs can fly and the “X-Files” programs are true, but When Will the Fat Lady Sing?

    A few days ago we read about the £38billion ponzi or advance fee scheme run by the former Chairman of NASDAQ – Bernard Madoff. Investment Securities International Limited, in London, was one of his operations. We didn’t need to read any tea leaves to know that the age old questions will again be asked, “How could this happen?”, “Where were the regulators?”, “How could reputable companies and institutions have been suckered?” We do know he was not a William Shakespeare’s ‘shylock’; in fact, he was “a most beloved human being”. The character references we hear about this guy remind me of the interviews of neighbours living next to Jeffrey Dahmer following his arrest, “He was such a nice person. We would have dinners at his home.

    Let’s get real! We all know how this happened. White Collar Criminals are the best in the league. Having investigated scores of massive complex fraud schemes during my career as an FBI Agent, there was always one common thread. They gave what their victims wanted. Hope. A couple of them even wrote to me from their prison cells because I gave them what they craved. Attention. So, this begs the very question: “Has the fat lady sung?” And that’s why I am once again going to print my list of online things for you to stay away from no matter how good they might look.

    1) Banks will NEVER ask you to verify your account details – they already have your details.

    2) MySpace, Bebo, Facebook, and ALL other social network sites are OPEN by default. Unless you want everyone (including that bully at school, the nosey neighbour, your boss, your mother, or the paedophile in Thailand) looking at your site, NEVER use it until you make it PRIVATE. Go into settings and follow the instructions. See www.safesocialnetworking.com. Same goes with Instant Messenger – if you don’t know the person, don’t add them as a contact.

    3) Microsoft has not and NEVER will hold a Lottery.

    4) You know if you have relatives in Nigeria or West Africa. NEVER ‘help’ someone you don’t know move money from a foreign country – that makes you a criminal too!

    5) NEVER click a hyperlink in an email from someone you don’t know. And be wise, unless you know who is sending you the online Birthday or Christmas card NEVER click on it – it’s loaded with malware or will redirect you to someplace you don’t want to be. Miscreants and criminals frequently abuse the ‘Hallmark’ name because it is so recognizable. If your name is not in the body of the email, do not click on it.

    6) Wireless Internet: Make sure your wireless internet is secure (WEP is okay, WPA is better – and if you don’t know what these terms mean, read the instructions that came with your wireless device. If that fails, do NOT use your wireless internet until you find a trusted advisor to fix it (generally your neighbour’s 8 or 9 year old kid).

    7) There is no free lunch. NEVER reply to email requests for charitable contributions. You call the charity yourself and know who you are talking to.

    8) If there is a free lunch it’s because you are going to pay for it. NEVER reply to pop up ads telling you to run free anti-spyware or anti-malware to get rid of spyware or viruses. You can be certain they will ‘find’ bad stuff on your computer requiring you to buy what they want to sell. OR they will load stealth software onto your computer to steal what’s important to you.

    9) NEVER think you are smarter than the criminal. You may be, but if you reply, you lose, you will always lose.

    10) Falling in love at first sight does happen – and it’s fabulous when it does – but falling in love online, whether in Second Life or another online virtual world, can be dangerous. Hey, if you are scoring a 4 or 5 in real life, you gotta wonder why a 9 or 10 is chatting you up online.

    Happy Holidays everyone!

    See you in 2009.


    Edward P Gibson

    Chief Security Advisor

    Microsoft Ltd UK

    PS As always, I look forward to hearing from you at EdGibson@Microsoft.com

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