You can’t afford not to read this

(Adapted from a post at Kent University : – but it’s so spot on, I thought I’d share it here)

You are probably likely to get at least one fake email this week. And it might be very convincing. You need to know what clues to look for so that you don’t lose work, personal data such as photos, or put University data at risk.

Good fakes look almost identical to genuine emails, and often appear to be from companies you know, such as:

  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • PayPal
  • phone companies like O2 and Vodafone
  • courier companies like DHL, and UPS
  • travel companies
  • student finance
  • local companies. Remember criminals don’t just copy large companies.


Clues to look for

  1. If it says you’ve ordered a service that you haven’t – it’s highly likely to be fake. Delete the email, even if it looks convincing. If you want to double-check, use a browser and find their website. From there you can check your online account or contact them.
  2. If there’s an attached file you weren’t expecting – don’t open or even preview it. Attachments are used to unleash a virus. They know you might be curious enough to want to look and see what it is. Do not look – delete it. Absolutely do not ‘enable content’ or ‘enable macros’.
  3. Check the email address it was sent from. Does it look like the expected sender? Is it readable, or unusual, or sent ‘on behalf of’ another email account? Note that even if it looks like the right sender, hackers can ‘hijack’ genuine email accounts – so look for other clues.
  4. Don’t click on links if you have any doubts. The link text you see on the screen might not match the website address it will go to. If you can, hover your mouse over them and the actual website address will appear. Is it a readable, sensible destination for that company?

If you’re not sure if it is fake or not

  • Contact the organisation outside of the email or go to their website independently. From there you can check your online account or contact them.
  • Never ‘Load remote content’ or ‘download pictures’ if you have any doubts at all.
  • If it is definitely fake, mark it as junk and delete it. Don’t reply, click links, view attachments or view images.

If you think you’ve responded to a fake

If you’ve previewed or opened an attachment which you now realise is fake, or clicked a link, or allowed ‘remote content’ or images to be seen in an email that is likely to be fake:

  • turn the power off your device immediately.
  • if you think your bank details have been compromised, contact your bank immediately.
  • contact the Service Desk ( or call x85999)

A note about your passwords

  • Never give out your CAMPUS password (or any other password). No reputable organisation will ask you to do this. Newcastle University IT staff do not need your password to perform maintenance on your account, and will never ask you to ‘verify your details’.
  • If you think your password has been compromised, contact the Service Desk, and change your password.
  • Don’t use the same password for more than one account. Just don’t do it.
  • Try and use a unique password with a mixture of letters, numbers and punctuation.

We do block most fake messages that are sent to your University email account, as we have ways of identifying them before they reach your Inbox. But some may still get through to you, unfortunately.

We are hiring! System Administrator (Windows)

Since we’ve got such a great team, opportunities to join us don’t come along very often, so you might want to check out this rare chance: C47242A – Systems Administrator (Windows)

You should have experience of recent versions of Windows Server, and systems automation (if you don’t know PowerShell, what have you been doing with yourself?!), and if you’ve got some cloud experience, that’s good too. More than anything, you need to have a desire to continually improve systems and expand your own knowledge. We don’t ever buy in a lot of help here, so you’ve got to be able to learn as you go.

In terms of what you could be working with, there’s a whole range of systems, including (but not restricted to): Active Directory, file store and backup, Office 365, IIS, SQL, Azure, FIM/MIM, VMware, HPC, SharePoint, and more.

Closing date for applications is the 2nd October, so don’t delay.

Free Technology User Group event in Newcastle

TechUG Newcastle is two weeks today (Thurs 22nd Sept) at the Jurys Inn, Scottswood Road. Some of our team will be there, along with colleagues from the like of Aldi, Draeger, Sanderson Weatherall, Convergys, University of Northumbria, and Newcastle Royal Grammer School.

Speakers include Jason Meers from VMware, Marcus Robinson from Microsoft, Michael Stephenson from Northumbria University, Danny O’Callaghan from VCE, Paul Parkin from Veeam, and others, covering a range of topics including Azure, DevOps, Docker & Containers, Server 2016, HyperCoverged Infrastructure, a VMworld update, vSphere and much more.

You can register for free at and the event also includes prize giveaways, complimentary teas, coffees and lunch provided, plus networking drinks at the end of the day.

There’s always a lot of good learning and networking to be done at these twice-yearly events, so hopefully we’ll see you there.

Free events for IT Pros in Newcastle on 25th November

On Monday 25th November, St James’ Park in Newcastle is the venue for three free events for IT professionals covering a range of Microsoft technologies.

During the day, the MVP Cloud OS Relay and SQL Relay 2012R2 have great line-ups of MVPs and other experts in Windows Server, System Center, Hyper-V, Office 365, Azure, SQL and Business Intelligence.

In the evening, the Windows User Group takes over with an event covering Windows 8.1, deployment, MDOP and Office 2013.

The schedule for the Cloud OS event is at and free sign-up is at

The SQL Relay event has sold out, but if you’re desperately interested in any of the sessions at you can register for the Cloud OS event and switch tracks throughout the day if there’s capacity in the room.

Sign up for the evening event is at

Hopefully I’ll see you there!

From ISG to the World

After a while of only being available internally, the new Infrastructure Systems Group blog is now available to the world at large on (if you were using the internal wordpress URL, you might want to update your RSS reader).

If you are just finding this blog for the first time, this is what you can expect…

  • Our group manages both Windows and Unix/Linux infrastructure, so we will have cross-platform posts.
  • Some of our content will be specific to our systems at Newcastle University, but the majority should be relevant to other organisations.
  • We are currently in the process of migrating some services to Office 365 – we’ll be reporting on that progress in quite a bit of detail, to aid others doing the same later.
  • There’s a lot of legacy content here that was from the old Windows Infrastructure Team blog. Some of that may have been slightly more partisan, OS-wise – sorry about that 😉
  • While we are very serious about the systems we run, we are not without humour, so there may be some of that too!

We hope you find our posts interesting and we look forward to your comments.

Microsoft IT Pro Camp, Newcastle, 27th March

Over the coming months, Microsoft are running events for IT professionals across the length and breadth of the UK, including a return to the North East. I went to the Microsoft Campus last week and had a taste of the new format, which is unlike the TechNet presentations of the past. These events are smaller and very interactive – there’s a real opportunity for attendees to shape the topics covered throughout the day.

As I said, these are smaller events, so you need to get registered fast! Here are all the details from Microsoft:

Event: Consumerisation of IT/ Manage consumer devices on a corporate network
Date: 27th March 2012
Location: Novotel Newcastle Airport, Ponteland Road, Kenton, Newcastle upon Tyne

This year the UK Tech.Days team have changed the format of our traditional Tech.Days theatre events into a series of ‘Boot Camp’ style seminars. The aim of these is to allow IT Professionals to have more discussion time with evangelists like Andrew Fryer, and each other to share common problems and solutions – and we’re looking for your help to share these with your users.

The Newcastle Event will host approx. 70 people with a mixture of discussions and practical demonstration. Although there will be a loose agenda, it will be PowerPoint-free event, allowing the hosts to focus on the questions that our guests ask.

For the event in Newcastle, we will be focusing on the Consumerisation of IT:
– How key Microsoft technologies such as System Center 2012, SharePoint 2010, Windows Server 2008R2, Exchange 2010 or Office 365 and Windows 7 come together to help you deliver flexibility and support for devices and desktops.
– How to use the latest tools to manage your estate, deliver applications flexibly, manage devices such as iOS and Android as well as Windows, implement IP Sec, reduce anti-malware costs, implement Direct Access and secure remote access.
– We’ll also help you think about what you need to build into a “Bring your own device” or BYOD policy.

Registrations are now open and can be found here

Free e-book: Introducing Windows Server 2008 R2

All you need is a Windows Live ID.

Free e-book offer from Microsoft Press: Introducing Windows Server 2008 R2
Learn about the features of Windows Server 2008 R2 in the areas of virtualization, management, the web application platform, scalability and reliability, and interoperability with Windows 7. Sign in to download Introducing Windows Server 2008 R2, written by industry experts Charlie Russel and Craig Zacker along with the Windows Server team at Microsoft.…dowsserver.aspx

End of support approaching…

Over the next few months, Microsoft is removing support for the following versions of Windows and Windows Service Packs:
Windows 2000
Windows 2000 Professional and Windows 2000 Server will both go out of support on 13th July 2010.
Windows XP
Windows XP with Service Pack 2 will also go out of support on 13th July. If you wish to keep running Windows XP in a supported mode from that date, you must make sure that you have Service Pack 3 installed.
Windows Vista
Windows Vista with no service packs installed will no longer be supported from 13th April. It’s time to install Service Pack 2.

For more information, check out the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Blog.

Launch of the Centre for Cybercrime and Computer Security

Tuesday 9th February is the EU’s Safer Internet Day, and the University’s recently formed Centre for Cybercrime and Computer Security is getting involved by hosting a half day event to raise awareness in order to protect young children from dangers on the internet. This will take the form of interactive workshops for parents and children.

This will be followed on Wednesday 10th February by the official launch event of the CCCS with a group of presentations on a range of topics including Counterfeiting, Internet Grooming, Gambling Websites and Security.

Both events will be held at St.James Park.

For more details, head over to