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:



LinkedIn and their new ‘intro’ tool

Posted by Mally Mclane | Filed under Uncategorized

linkedin_logoLinkedIn is a social networking website for people in professional occupations. It’s the virtual equivalent of swopping your business card at a meeting and is quite widely used around the world. In the past week, they have launched a new tool for Apple’s iPhone and iPad that allows you to see LinkedIn data right within your email without going into the app itself. You can find more details on the launch on their blog:





Whilst we recognise that this can be a useful service, the way that LinkedIn have implemented raises some privacy questions. Once you activate and install the Intro app, it creates extra email settings that route every email you send and receive through LinkedIn’s servers. Email is sent to LinkedIn and scanned by them before being passed onto your email provider, regardless of if you are conversing with a current LinkedIn contact or not. To aid in the working of the service it also alters every email you send to placed a LinkedIn advert within the email.

LinkedIn do have a very robust privacy policy and pledge and you can find them linked at: http://www.linkedin.com/legal/privacy-policy. However, unlike the contact we negotiated with Google, the University has not had an opportunity to take the LinkedIn services and policies through it’s due diligence process and therefore must advise against use of their new Intro service.

Why is due diligence important? University data, whilst in the main is benign, other data we produce can fall into more sensitive classifications – such as that the University wishes to keep confidential for commercial reasons, or data it needs to keep confidential for security reasons. Because we don’t have a deeper insight into the LinkedIn process for Intro, we can’t guarantee the safety/security of University data and may fall foul of various laws and policies. You can read more on ‘You and University Data’ at: http://www.bris.ac.uk/infosec/uobdata/

If you have any questions, please feel free to email us via the Service Desk.



Mally Mclane

Communication and Collaboration Services Manager, IT Services


Chris Mayo

Mobile Technology Specialist, IT Services







Google Talk problems – 26/09

Posted by Mally Mclane | Filed under Uncategorized

Google Talk is the instant messenger that our staff see built into their Gmail, allowing quick/easy conversations with your colleagues across the University. Hangouts is Google’s new replacement for Talk and also brings multi-person video conferencing, for free, into the mix:



Whilst these tools are useful, and as a project we used them extensively when people were away from the office, they need to work correctly and on this occassion they didn’t. On Thursday morning, we started seeing reports, both in the media and on Google’s product forums of a possible issue with Google Talk/Hangouts. The issue being reported was that some ‘chats’ were being sent to the wrong person, without any notification to the sender.

We spoke to Google Support and they very quickly confirmed that there was an issue and working with them, we took a decision to completely turn off the Google Talk app to protect our users. Since then, Google have confirmed that any messages sent between 01:30 GMT and 04:30 GMT on the 26th may have been affected and they are confident any messages outside of that time period were sent correctly.

Google have now deployed a fix to prevent this problem happening again and we will be turning Google Talk back on later on Friday.

Although the time period involved does lessen the chance of a UoB message being involved, it does break down confidence in the Google products and for that we’re sorry. We’ll be continuing to liaise with Google and any further information we get will be communicated out to our staff and via this blog.

Mally Mclane
Communication and Collaboration Services Manager
University of Bristol


Gmail delivery delays – 23/09/13

Posted by Mally Mclane | Filed under Uncategorized

Google invest millions in both their staff and their systems to keep things like Gmail up and running on an almost 100% basis. Unfortunately, things do sometimes break and Monday, 23rd September was one example of this. Beginning early afternoon, we began to saw issues such as email taking a long time to make it into your inbox and issues with downloading large attachments.

No email was lost during these issues.

Although the problem and it’s resolution are out of hands, it’s always useful that we communicate about the issues and their resolution to the University staff as our customers so that you can remain confident that we are doing the best we can to give you comprehensive and available systems. Google have also followed up with a more detailed response to the problem and what they are doing going forward, you can find it on their blog at:



Mally Mclane
Communication and Collaboration Services Manager
University of Bristol


The new Google @ UoB blog

Posted by Mally Mclane | Filed under Uncategorized


This blog is replacing the project blog that we ran through the project. Now we’ve successfully migrated all staff/students, the information we need to communicate out changes. On this blog we’ll be having regular posts from across the University that:

  • show you new ways of working using Google tools to help you
  • highlight any new features or apps that Google provide
  • showing tips, tricks and hints to give you a better Google experience.
  • … anything else you want to see!

If there is anything you want to see on this blog, feel free to email me directly: mally.mclane@bristol.ac.uk


Mally Mclane