PSAB Telecommuting FAQ

Date: March 17, 2020 | Categories:

03/30/20 Malwarebytes is causing issues with some computer browsers.  The issue will show up on your remote desktop.  If you open a browser and attempt to visit websites, the Internet will slow down and pages could take many minutes to display.  There is no fix to the issue other than to disable the web filter portion of Malwarebytes.  We assume this issue is being caused because Marlwarebytes if being more aggressive at blocking potentially bad websites to prevent infection from the rash of Corona Virus scams popping up.  The issue is not necessarily caused by the website you are trying to visit, but, most likely because that site has linked to a potentially infected or bogus site.  An example of this might be a link within an article, or, more likely an ad that tries to display on the page you are attempting to view.  We do not want to arbitrarily disable the web filtering portion of Malwarebytes, however, if you experince extreme slowness issues on your remote desktop, open a ticket for IT to take a look.  As was stated in the IT update today, if you are doing research on the Internet, it is best to do so from your local, company issued laptop rather than through your remote desktop connection.

03/30/20  Video and sound while telecommuting.  There seems to be some confusion concerning how telecommuting works.  Staff have been questioning Videos and sound (listening to voice mesages), etc.  We will try to explain.  When logged in to a remote desktop, the controls, like volume, screen size, etc. are controlled twice instead of once.  Therefore, is you want to listen to voice messages while on your remote desktop, the sound on your remote desktop computer must be turned on and set around 50-75%.  However, the sound on your local laptop or computer must also be on and the volume at a comfortable level.  A non-IT example of this might be a set of headphones that you would use for a TV or other device.  Lets assume that the headphones have a volume control as well as the TV.  If you turn the TV volume off, no matter how loud you turn up the headphones, you will not hear anything.  You have to have the TV volume set to a comfortable level or at least on in order to get a feed to the headphones.  Once that is done, then you can control the volume, to a degree on the headphones.  A remote desktop connection works the same way.  Please make sure you have the volume leves turned to about 50% on both the remote desktop and your local desktop if you want to listen to messages etc.  Please note that audio and video use a lot of bandwidth.  It is likely that your audio and/or video will be chppy.  That is OK for a short clip, but if you are attempting to watch a video of over 1 minute, you should do so on your local device and not the desktop.  Listenting to audio or video, through your remote desktop, will affect any staff members logged in and working at the time.

03/24/20 There is a critical issue in Windows that opens PSAB to potential malware. Please review this link and complete the steps on your company issued laptop and the remote desktop computer at the office. We also suggest you apply the patch to any personal computers running Windows that you may have.

How do I get IT support while telecommuting? – Please do not Email individual IT technicians. With all that is going on, the boroughs that we support are also going to be telecommuting and most of them save and then do not keep passwords. We get notices when someone cannot log in, even before it is reported, but, at least one tech had well over 1100 Emails Tuesday morning. We work from the ticketing system and that is the best way to reach us. We have 4 people monitoring tickets, “almost” 24×7. If you have an emergency, please call 717-236-9526 and leave a message at extension 1045. We have our voicemail box set up to Email the message to all of our technicians and those messages are flagged so we see them almost immediately. Please do not do that unless it is an emergency.

All company issued laptops have a program that allows an IT technician to share a screen. One-on-one support will be available, if needed. Staff members are required, however, to make sure the laptop has a WiFi connection to the interned from the remote location. IT staff cannot provide support for individual routers and home networking systems.

Should you have additional questions, please send an Email to it@boroughs.org.  We are monitoring the ticketing system on an extended-hours basis, so it is likely one of the technicians will see your request even outside of business hours.  Again, we would ask that you keep in mind that we are supporting many of our members’ websites as well. We will do our best to prioritize requests accordingly.

How do I log out once I am connected? – Please be very careful when logging out. You can accidentally shut off your desktop computer, at which time, we have to send a technician to the office to restart the computer. When signing off, please make sure you click start (the small round icon in the bottom left with a line at 12 o’clock) and then disconnect.

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My account has been locked out! – As part of our security, if you attempt to log in to your desktop remotely with the incorrect password, you will be locked out for 1 hour. A few of the systems that were completed at the end of the day on Monday, may be 24 hours. If you get locked out for more than an hour, please open a ticket by sending an Email to it@boroughs.org. This security measure is designed to prevent outside hackers from being able to access our internal systems. We understand it may pose some inconvenience, but it is a necessity.

I got disconnected. – Our internet connection (Comcast) at the office was not designed to handle everyone telecommuting at the same time. It is our opinion that we will be able to handle the traffic. ISPs have actually been boosting bandwidth for business clients, of which, we are one. We did, however, experience a small, 1 minute issue on Tuesday. That is bound to happen. We did see a spike in the number of connections during that time. What that usually means is that a staff member may have accessed a video file from the office. Please refrain from watching videos from your remote desktop. Doing so will most likely be choppy, at best, and it will interfere with other staff members as they try to work. If you get disconnected, wait 3-5 minutes and then simply log back in. You should be returned exactly where you left off. If you were in the middle of a letter or Email, it should still be there and the cursor should be right where it was when disconnected. Please be aware that your Email is not dependent on the Internet at the office. Even if the office should go offline, you can still reach support through Email even if you have to submit the ticket from your personal Email account. If you cannot log on, please feel free to do that (email IT from a personal email account) or call and leave a message for us at ext 1045.

The laptop you provided will not let me log on. – You cannot access your desktop remotely from within the building.  There is a security feature that prevents staff in the same office environment from logging in.  It is intended to stop staff from being able to access other staff computers without passing through the firewall and security. 

How should I access Email? – If you have been issued a laptop with RDP (Remote Desktop), then please log into your work desktop remotely and access your Email through Outlook as you always have.  That will insure that when a normal work environment returns, all Email will be in your Outlook.  If you have been issued a tablet, we have setup Email through the app on the tablet.  Should be pretty much self explanatory.  You also have access through RoundCube, which is webmail.  If you use RoundCube, please be aware that messages sent will not show up in your Outlook Email upon returning to work.  All Email is archived for storage, however, when using RoundCube, if you want sent Email to show up in Outlook later, please BCC your work Email address.  That will cause the Email you sent to show up in the RoundCube inbox.  You may delete that copy and it will still show in your Outlook once you return to work. You can find information on RoundCube Webmail here.

Are my documents backed up? – If you are working remotely with a laptop, please view all attachments, etc. from your work desktop.  All files that you use from your desktop will be backed up as usual and all security protocol will be in place just as if you were working at your desktop.  Please make sure you save and close files before logging off of your remote desktop.  Open files will not be backed up.

If you are working from a tablet or cell phone and not a remote desktop, files and information will not be backed up. Should you wish to move a document to your office desktop so you have it when you return to work, please attach it to an Email and send it to yourself.

What about security? – Although home WiFi networks may not be secure (depending on how the routers were set up), accessing remote desktops and RoundCube has a very high degree of security.  Our Email system creates an encrypted tunnel and also encrypts all Email at rest. Remote desktop creates a highly secure tunnel that is next to impossible to crack.  One word of caution, if you are accessing Email from RoundCube or a tablet, attachments are not secure should you save them.  They will also not be backed up.  If you are accessing Email through RoundCube, we suggest that you do not save attachments.  You may view them, however, be aware that viewing attachments creates a temporary copy on the tablet/device.  Therefore, please take appropriate precautions with issued tablets.  Do not let them lay around.  The tablets are being issued with pin codes or passwords to offer minimal security.  Once this emergency has passed, IT will require all issued equipment to be returned for security scrubbing, etc.

Special instructions for UC department – You may “view” Emails on your portable device using RoundCube or another portable device.  You should not open any attachments on a portable device.  If you wish to view attachments, please log on through your company issued laptop, to your desktop, and work normally.  In addition, please do not use WiFi to connect your company issued laptop to the Internet.  IT as provided a network cable.  Plug the cable into the networking dongle or laptop network port, and then into an open network port on your router.

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