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.


Customise your launcher!

Posted by Mally Mclane | Filed under new feature

Coming soon, the ability to change your launcher to work how you want it to.

It’s rolling out across Google now, more info at: https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/1714464



















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.




Bring a little something extra to Docs and Sheets with add-ons

Posted by Mally Mclane | Filed under drive, interesting feature, new feature

You use Google Docs and Sheets to get all sorts of stuff done—whether you’re staying up late to finish that final paper or just getting started on a new project at the office. But to help take some of that work off your shoulders, today Google are launching add-ons—new tools created by developer partners that give you even more features in your documents and spreadsheets.


To browse through add-ons for Docs and Sheets, select Get add-ons in the Add-ons menu of any open document or spreadsheet. (Add-ons for spreadsheets are only available in the new Google Sheets).

Once you install an add-on it will become available across all of your documents or spreadsheets and you can start using it right away.

Here are just a few examples of how add-ons can help you do more with Docs and Sheets:

Get approvals from Docs and Sheets 
Need to gather approvals or feedback? Letter Feed Workflows routes your document to the right people and adds a simple “Approve” button right inside your document or spreadsheet. You’ll be notified as soon as it’s approved, and can publish the final version with a single click.

Print address labels and name tags 
With Avery Label Merge you can seamlessly import addresses or names from Sheets into Docs for printing. Just pick the type of Avery labels you’ll be printing and your document will be formatted to match the layout of your label pack.

Create a bibliography without leaving Docs 
Citing sources is about to get much easier for the millions of students who use Google Docs to write papers. TheEasyBib Bibliography Creator helps you cite books, journals, and websites in MLA, APA, and Chicago style by entering in titles, journal article names, and websites right inside your document.

Send customized emails 
With Merge by Mailchimp you can send customized emails from Google Docs. Use merge tags to pull info from a spreadsheet into your document. Once your data is merged, hit send and your personalized emails will be delivered.

These are just some of the many add-ons that are available for you to use right now in the Docs or Sheets add-on stores, with lots more on the way.



(These are currently rolling out, you may find they are not available to your staff account right now!)


5 reasons we use Google Chrome at UoB

Posted by Mally Mclane | Filed under chrome

chrome-os-2odl-8001. Speed

Chrome is designed to be the fastest web browser. With one click it loads web pages, multiple tabs, and applications with lightning speed. Chrome is fitted with V8, a faster and more powerful JavaScript engine. Chrome also loads web pages faster by using the WebKit open source rendering engine. The Omnibox increases speed and efficiency by allowing you to type both searches and web addresses in the address bar.

2. Simplicity

Chrome is a clean and simple browser. The omnibox and multi tabbed browsing make navigating the web a breeze. When you close chrome, it will remember the tabs you had open to you can pick up right where you left off. Chrome also comes equipped with a built-in PDF viewer, eliminating the need to install and software. You can even print, resize, and save PDF’s.

3. Security/Privacy

Chrome keeps you safe and sound with its built-in malware and phishing protection. It has safe browsing technology and will show you a warning message before you visit a site that is suspicious. Chrome also automatically updates to make sure you have the latest and more up to date version.

Chrome also let’s you keep control of your private information while you browse online. Browse using Incognito mode if you don’t want your website visits or downloads recorded. It also doesn’t keep any cookies. You also can control your privacy preferences by selecting Settings and then show advanced settings. From there, adjust your privacy section and clear your browsing data.

4. Customization

Customize Google Chrome to make it your own. Use the Chrome Webstore to add apps, extensions and themes. Apps and extensions give you the latest in productivity, games, education, etc. Themes allow you to bring your browser to life with color and graphics. You can even create your own themes.

5. Signing In 
If you are sharing a computer with other people, you can add multiple users to keep your bookmarks, apps, and extensions separate. Anything you update on one device will instantly update everywhere. Once you sign in, you decide what you want to sync.


(this blog was originally written by our friends at Ditoweb: http://blog.ditoweb.com/2014/02/top-5-reasons-you-should-use-google.html)


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.


Google Calendar now helps you remember holidays in 30 more countries

Posted by Mally Mclane | Filed under calendar

Interested in celebrating Carnival with your cousin in Argentina, or not sure when your friend in Zurich is off for the Swiss National Day holiday? You can now choose from 30 additional country holiday calendars in Google Calendar to help keep track of special occasions in different countries so there’ll be even more to celebrate.

The calendars, which will be rolled out over the next few days, also contain a wider variety of holidays and display dates for holidays further into the future, so you can have enough time to book a flight to Buenos Aires to join your cousin for the water games, or ask your friend to send you a dozen August-Weggen