Blog to close!

Posted by James Brimble | Filed under news

Dear all

After the initial bedding in of  Google at the University it has become clear that staff and students are finding their way around Google without too much trouble. In addition, information on Google developments are widely publicised in the media. We have therefore decided that this dedicated blog is no longer needed.

We will however continue to post important updates via the IT Services channels which include:

IT Services’ news

IT Services’ Facebook page

IT Services Google+ page

and via Twitter @BristolUniIT

This blog will be removed at the end of February 2015.


Google Apps in the news: Gmail Passwords Leak

Posted by Mally Mclane | Filed under news

gmail-logoYou may have seen in the news recently reports of a possible password leak from Gmail and Google. We recognise that this may have caused concern and alarm amongst our users and would like to reassure you that:


Gmail was *not* hacked.


Although a significant amount of valid Gmail usernames and passwords were in the ‘dump’ that was being circulated, Google have been able to confirm these were not obtained from Google, but rather as a result of people falling for ‘phish’ emails. A phish email is where you receive a fake email pretending to be from Gmail, or your bank, and asking you for a username and password.

Google take security of their services very seriously and pro-actively blocked the passwords of affected accounts and forced a password change. Also, whilst the passwords were valid, Google are confident that other measures they have would have prevented any logins by people/systems that were not authorised to use that account.

If you are concerned that your details might be amongst those that were published online, visit a site like haveibeenpwned.com. It’s run by respected security expert Troy Hunt, and can tell you not just if your email address was included in this incident, but in plenty of other password breaches that have occurred in the past.

You can read more from Google at: http://googleonlinesecurity.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/cleaning-up-after-password-dumps.html

Also, you can read University advice on how to protect yourself at: http://www.bris.ac.uk/infosec/protectyou/


Using Google Apps for Interviews

Posted by Mally Mclane | Filed under news

chrome-os-2odl-800The vast majority of interviewers dislike the interview process as much as candidates. In fact, one out of five candidates surveyed recently said that their interviewer looked bored. In most cases, it is not boredom as much as logistical distractions and interview fatigue.

The secret to a smooth interviewing process is taking care of all the technical details upfront. Simple organizational issues, like double bookings and incomplete note-taking during the interview, can seriously derail the interviewer’s concentration and focus.

There are no objective measures for determining if the right candidates are slipping away, but there are ways to ensure that nothing stands in the way of a good interview.


Here are some life hacker tips using Google Apps that keep the spotlight where it belongs throughout the complex modern interview.


Many people were saddened when Google Appointment slots were retired last year. However, many of the features are still available in a slightly different way through Google Calendar. Google Calendar makes it easy to generate detailed appointment slots for each candidate. One click on any half-hour field creates a rapid event with just name and time. Double click opens up an Event page for expanded details and editing. Resumes or other docs can be attached and email notifications sent to all interested parties right from the Event page. One of the best features is when an interview team shares calendars with each other or uses public calendars. The “Find a time” link can search through all the team’s schedules to determine the best time for an interview. If the appointment needs to be rescheduled, it can simply be dragged to a new day or time. In that case, the calendar sends up a prompt to ask, “Would you like to notify guests of your changes?” Also, if it is an internal interview, candidates can sign up for their own interviews using the shared calendar.


Vast amounts of money, time and scheduling complications can be cleared up with a video interview in Hangout. Eliminating the hurdle of in-person interviewing widens the candidate pool enormously. Just a few well-placed questions can save hours of resume analysis. The Hangout can even be branded with the company info for a seamless interview process. Interviewing from their home turf makes candidates more relaxed as well and leaves the impression of a company that’s dedicated to using the most advanced technology.


Various kinds of Docs can be created so that the hiring team to share the critical feedback documents from the interview. Since it is updated in real-time, Docs can share information during the Hangout interview, even if the interview panel is connecting from different cities. An interview feedback template has already been created expressly for this purpose. Collaborative document options cover text documents, presentations, spreadsheets, forms and a host of other related apps.


At your next interview session, there is no reason to look bored, distracted or fatigued. Google Apps integrates the scheduling, the video and the documentation so the candidate can remain the star of this show.


Sending encrypted files through Google

Posted by Mally Mclane | Filed under news, Uncategorized

google-cloud-security Whilst Google’s services are very secure in their own right (read more here: http://goo.gl/dP02wl), the University has always offered advice on how to encrypt files that you may send via Gmail, Drive or other means. Whilst the University mandates encryption for strictly confidential files, you may personally wish to encrypt them to be 110% guaranteed of their privacy, or to protect the integrity of the file – there are many reasons.

Earlier this week, Google made a change to their services that resulted in the method that we had for encrypted files no longer being compatible with Gmail or Drive. We don’t yet know why they made this change, but Google do pro-actively make changes to their services to protect the security of the service and the users that use it.

Because of this, the University has had to make a small change to it’s instructions, meaning that you have to choose a different option in one of the drop-down boxes in 7-zip – you can find more information on this, and other information security advice, on the University website:



Staying at the forefront of email security and reliability: HTTPS-only and 99.978% availability in Gmail.

Posted by Mally Mclane | Filed under news

google-cloud-securityYour email is important to you, and making sure it stays safe and always available is important to the University and to Google. As you go about your day reading, writing, and checking messages, there are tons of security measures running behind the scenes to keep your email safe, secure, and there whenever you need it.

Starting today, Gmail will always use an encrypted  connection (HTTPS) when you check or send email. Gmail has supported HTTPS since the day it launched, and in 2010 Google made HTTPS the default. Today’s change means that no one can listen in on your messages as they go back and forth between you and Gmail’s servers—no matter if you’re using public WiFi or logging in from your computer, phone or tablet.

In addition, every single email message you send or receive—100% of them—is encrypted while moving internally in Google. This ensures that your messages are safe not only when they move between you and Gmail’s servers, but also as they move between Google’s data centres—something Google made a top priority after last summer’s revelations.

Of course, being able to access your email is just as important as keeping it safe and secure. In 2013, Gmail was available 99.978% of the time, which averages to less than two hours of disruption for a user for the entire year. The engineering experts at Google look after their services 24×7 and if a problem ever arises, they’re on the case immediately. Google help us to keep you informed by posting updates on the Apps Status Dashboard until the issue is fixed, and we always conduct a full analysis on the problem to prevent it from happening again.

The Google commitment to the security and reliability of your email is absolute, and they are constantly working on ways to improve. You can learn about additional ways to keep yourself safe online, like creating strong passwords, by visiting the Security Center: https://www.google.com/help/security.


Google Statement on Privacy and Security in Google Apps

Posted by Mally Mclane | Filed under news

google-cloud-securityThere has been a small flurry of stories in the industry press recently, attempting to prove, incorrectly, that Google doesn’t honour it’s commitment to provide Apps for Education customers with an advertisement free and secure service. Whilst Google have had websites around security/privacy before, it’s now written a simple and clear English statement on the security/privacy protections built in to Google Apps for Education.

The full text is copied below, but you can also read it here: http://www.google.com/edu/privacy.html




Google Apps for Education – Security and Privacy

More than 30 million students, teachers and administrators rely on Google Apps for Education every day to communicate and collaborate more efficiently. We are committed to protecting the privacy and security of our users — and that includes students — to make sure their information is safe, secure and always available to them.

Here are a few important things to know about Google Apps for Education and student accounts:

Ads in Gmail are turned off by default for Google Apps for Education and we have no plans to change this in the future.

Gmail for consumers and Google Apps users runs on the same infrastructure, which helps us deliver high performance, reliability and security to all of our users. However, Google Apps offers additional securityadministrative and archiving controls for education, business, and government customers.

Gmail scans and indexes email for multiple purposes, including spell check, virus and spam protection, features like Priority Inbox and auto-detection of calendar events, relevant search results and advertising; this scanning is done on all incoming emails, is 100% automated and can’t be turned off.

When ads in Gmail are turned off for Google Apps for Education, automated scanning that is done in Gmail is not used to target ads to Education users, whether inside Gmail or in other Google products (e.g. YouTube, Google Search, etc.).

We do not scan information stored in Google Drive or Docs (or Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms) to target ads to Apps for Education customers.

We do not share personal information with companies, organizations or individuals outside of Google unless one of the circumstances outlined in the Google Privacy Policy applies.

The data schools and students put into our systems is theirs, and we believe it should stay that way. If an education department, school or university decides to no longer use Google we make it easy for them to take their data away with them.

Google Apps for Education offers schools a number of additional controls and security features. These include a 99.9% uptime guarantee, 24/7 customer support, greater storage capacity and the ability for school administrators to turn certain features or services on or off. As with all our accounts, we keep our users secure by filtering out spam and looking out for viruses and malware.




Google Certified Administrators

Posted by Mally Mclane | Filed under news

badge_Google_Apps_Cert_Admin_web Google, like all major technology companies run certification programs on their products, enabling you to show that you have training and expertise in the day to day use and applications of them.

After having taken and passed the exam in December, and the exam being officially launched this month, I am proud to say that I am one of the first people in the world and definitely the first in the UK to gain this certification from Google. I’m looking forward to using what I’ve learned from the exam and putting it to use in the University!








Stats, stats and more (Christmas) stats

Posted by Mally Mclane | Filed under news

Google have recently launched a new reports page that we can view in the UoB Google Team and it shows us some interesting insights into how people work at the University!

On Christmas day





An amazing 9002 staff members (for clarity, we include Postgraduate Researchers) with University Google accounts logged into Gmail on Christmas Day 2013 – was this because they all got given new tablets or laptops? Or was it because they prefer quiet days to do their work? Who knows! Even more surprising are the thousands of people that checked their Google Drive (more coming on this in 2014! – perhaps they were looking for their favourite turkey recipe?)  and their Google Calendar – (perhaps like me they plan their entire personal/private live through Google Calendar and were checking where they were having lunch?).




New Years Eve 2013



University employees quite clearly enjoy NYE more than Christmas – numbers logging into the Google Apps dropped – Gmail went down by just under 3000, perhaps showing that people had got work out of the way and were choosing to use NYE as more relaxing/sociable time?







Email Numbers

We can also see how many emails UoB in it’s entirety is sending and receiving across the past few months:

You can see that it’s fairly constant, that we send much less than we receive (well done UoB!), that there are peaks and troughs as weekends & holidays come and go but that there are 2 enormous spikes in November. Unfortunately, we can’t explain those spikes, but it does coincide with the time when ransomware (where your computer is hijacked and essentially held to ransom..) attacks spiked. Fortunately our spam/virus defences at the University are quite strong and will have stopped the vast majority of these from reaching inbox’s.


Google Drive

and finally, we can look at the amount of documents the University has created in, or uploaded to, Google Drive. Google Drive for those who don’t know is Google’s online version of Microsoft Office (allowing you to work collaboratively, in real time, with colleagues inside the University and elsewhere) and Dropbox (allowing you to share files around the world up to 10GB in size). We’ll be making a big push on Google Drive in 2014, but organically, it seems people are already discovering it:







From August last year right up to the present day, Drive usage in the University has never stopped growing as people find new and exciting uses for it on a daily basis. As of February 13th, the University staff now has almost 1 million files and documents sitting in Google Drive – accessible and editable from any device, anywhere in the world.

We’ll be sharing more insights with you across 2014, keep tuned to this blog!


Mally Mclane



Safety on the Internet

Posted by Mally Mclane | Filed under news

Safer Internet DayEvery February sees a day of action and education around the world that is designed to increase personal safety on the internet. Called ‘Safer Internet Day’, it’s aim is to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially amongst children and young people across the world.

Google offer extensive tools and help with keeping yourself, your family and others safe on the internet – you can find it all linked from their page at: http://www.google.com/safetycenter/

Our local police have also pulled together the advice that they give out and you can find it at:  https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/newsroom/how-safe-are-you-online/

Finally, the UK Government has produced a very engaging website designed for both individuals and businesses and you can find that at: https://www.cyberstreetwise.com


Google and Government Requests for Data

Posted by Mally Mclane | Filed under news

google-cloud-securityAcross the past year, various stories and documents have been released that have caused some concern and queries over the level of access that our security and intelligence services have to the data we hold in companies like Google, Microsoft and other vendors. When the story first broke, the University released a statement on it’s position. That position has not changed and you can read what we said at: http://www.bris.ac.uk/it-services/news/2013/datasecurity19june.html.

Google believes the public deserves to know the full extent to which governments request user information from Google. That’s why for the past four years they have shared and continuously expanded and updated information about government requests for user information in their Transparency Report. Until now, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) opposed Google’s efforts to publish statistics specifically about Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests. Under FISA, the government may apply for orders from a special FISA Court to require U.S. companies to hand over users’ personal information and the content of their communications. Although FISA was passed by elected representatives and is available for anyone to read, the way the law is used is typically kept secret.

Last summer’s revelations about government surveillance remind us of the challenges that secrecy can present to a democracy that relies on public debate. Last year Google filed a lawsuit asking the FISA Court to let them disclose the number of FISA requests they receive and how many users/accounts they include. Google had previously secured permission to publish information about National Security Letters, and FISA requests were the only remaining type of demands excluded from their report. Now, for the first time, the Google report on government requests for user information encompasses all of the requests they receive, subject only to delays imposed by the DoJ regarding how quickly they can include certain requests in their statistics.

Publishing these numbers is a step in the right direction, and speaks to the principles for reform that Google announced with other companies last December. But Google still believes more transparency is needed so everyone can better understand how surveillance laws work and decide whether or not they serve the public interest. Specifically, Google want to disclose the precise numbers and types of requests they receive, as well as the number of users they affect in a timely way. That’s why Congress to go another step further and pass legislation (PDF) that will enable Google and others to say more.

You have the right to know how laws affect the security of your information online and Google, along with other major internet companies have pledged to keep fighting for your ability to exercise that right by pushing for greater transparency around the world.