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Card access problems on campus

Tuesday, February 4th, 2020

Some students and staff might experience problems with card access on campus.

Due to a heavier load on the network in terms of traffic and potential technical glitches, card access is being denied at some doors.

The rights of valid and registered cards will automatically updated after they’ve been swiped and should work shortly afterwards. 

We realise that this is frustrating and inconvenient and are doing everything possible to address the problem. 

For further enquiries, please log a request on

New warning banner for your email

Tuesday, February 4th, 2020

The nature of cyber-attacks is always evolving and Information Technology, with the help of staff and students, has to do everything within our power to try and prevent them.

In an attempt to tighten cyber security on campus, we will soon provide a new warning which can identify the origin of an email. By establishing the origin of email, it’s easier to protect against cyber security risks such as malware, spoofing and phishing. 

From now on, every time you receive email from outside campus a yellow banner will be displayed at the top of your email:

Click for a larger image


Click for a larger version

When staff or students receive a potentially dangerous email which seems to have been sent from a colleague with a address, they will immediately be able to see that it is, in fact, not from their colleague, but from an address outside the university.

Just keep in mind that the banner does not indicate that the email is necessarily a security risk, but that the possibility exists and that you need to be extra careful when responding to it.

We will continuously assess the effectiveness of this decision and reconsider if necessary. For any additional enquiries, please send an email to

Remember that movie you downloaded?

Monday, January 20th, 2020

With a fast internet connection and enough internet data, it’s possible to watch and download movies and series whenever you want. Unfortunately, it’s also not legal and everything you do online can be tracked and traced.  

Until recently television networks and film companies weren’t geared to trace and stop downloading and distribution of illegal movies. It was just too difficult and not cost-effective, however, this is no longer the case – even in South Africa. 

We frequently receive notifications from companies such as Warner Bros. and Columbia Pictures indicating that illegal, copyrighted material is being downloaded and seeded (distributed) from IP addresses within the university’s network. 

These emails include the specific IP address, the material downloaded and distributed and at which times. When we receive these notifications, we immediately send an email to the user of the address with a written warning. If they do not comply, these companies will take legal action.

The distribution or seeding of copyrighted material without a licence is both a criminal and civil offence in South Africa, even if distribution takes place from BitTorrent. Just because it’s available via a torrent, it doesn’t mean it’s legal.

In South Africa, under the Copyright Law of 1978, you can be sentenced for up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to R10,000 for each item you distribute. Between 2010 and 2012, 200,000 people have been sued for uploading and downloading copyright material via BitTorrent.

So before you download the latest episode of your favourite series or stream movies from an illegal file sharing site, consider the consequences. There are many legal options to watch media online, from Netflix  to Showmax, so rather be safe and legal.


How does BitTorrent and seeding work?


Example of a warning letter:

We are writing this letter on behalf of Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. (“Rights Holder”) who own certain rights under copyright law in the title White House Down.

You are receiving this notice because your Internet account was identified as having been used recently to copy and/or distribute illegally the copyrighted motion pictures and/or television shows listed at the bottom of this notice. This notice provides you with the information you need in order to take immediate action that can prevent serious legal and other consequences. These actions include:

1. Stop downloading or uploading without authorization any motion pictures or TV shows owned or distributed by Rights Holder; and
2. Permanently delete from your computer(s) all unauthorized copies you may have already made of these movies and TV shows.
If this notice is being received by an Internet Service Provider (ISP), please forward the notice to the individual associated with the activities.
The unauthorized distribution or public performance of copyrighted works constitutes copyright infringement under the Copyright Act, Title 17 U.S Code Section 106(3)-(4). This conduct may also violate the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and The Universal Copyright Convention, as well as bilateral treaties with other countries that allow for protection of Rights Holder copyrighted works even beyond U.S borders.
Below is the detail for your reference:
– ————- Infringement Details ———————————-
Title: White House Down
Timestamp: 2013-09-19T23:18:28Z
IP Address: 146.232.***.**
Port: *****
Type: BitTorrent
Torrent Hash: *************************************




“Office 365 verification” phishing scam from compromised student account

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

Please be on the lookout for the following phishing scam coming this morning from a compromised student account:

The subject will be “Office365 E-mail Verification” (or a variation) and says that “you recently made a request to terminate your Office365 mail” and to click on a link to cancel this termination.

The mail should be immediately suspicious to most people with common sense and awareness of phishing scams, but here are a few signs:

  1. Why is a student account sending you mail about your “termination” of an Office365 account?
  2. Why are they threatening you to verify or lose your account?
  3. Why does the link point to a site that is not in the university network and is in Brazil of all places?
  4. Why is something as “important” as this being sent in a non-secure email? 

Here is an example of one of these phishing emails that several observant students and colleague have sent me this morning already!

If you have accidentally clicked on the link and given your login details to the phishers it is vitally important that you immediately go to the USERADM page (either or and change your password immediately. (Make sure the new password is completely different and is a strong password that will not be easily guessed, as well as changing the passwords on your social media and private e-mail accounts, especially if you use the same passwords on these accounts.)

If you have received mail that looks like the one above, please immediately report it to the Information Technology Security Team using the following method: (especially if it looks like it comes from a university address) Once you have reported it, delete it immediately.

  1. Start up a new mail addressed to (CC:
  2. Use the Title “SPAM” (without quotes) in the Subject.
  3. With this New Mail window open, drag the suspicious spam/phishing mail from your Inbox into the New Mail Window. It will attach the mail as an enclosure and a small icon with a light yellow envelope will appear in the attachments section of the New Mail.
  4. Send the mail.



Exam access app a resounding success

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

Until recently granting access to examinations for students has been a manual and time-consuming process of checking-off access lists. However, thanks to new technology developed by Information Technology in collaboration with the Examination Office in the Registrar’s Division, this is no longer the case.    

Since June this year, the identification of students for access to examination venues has been facilitated with the use of cell phones at each venue. 

A student’s student card is held against the back of the cell phone, and on the screen, it is indicated whether the student is supposed to write the examination in the specific module in the specific venue. The screen will display a green mark if the student is at the correct exam venue (see image right) and a red cross if not. If the student is at the wrong venue, the screen will indicate where the student should be for the exam or test.  

This will result in access to examination venues being easily and swiftly controlled and will certainly simplify and improve the function of access control with regard to examination venues.  

This easier scanning process is made possible by the NFC (near-field communications) chip on Android phones which communicates with the MIFARE chip embedded in the student card,  and the identification information is then used by the phone app to look up the student’s exam venue. The exam venue and module information come from the Student Information System. 

Tests were first conducted on a small scale during the November 2017 examination and the technology was rolled out fully for the June 2018 examination. It was a resounding success.  

 Emce Louw, Head of the Exam Office experienced the impact first-hand as the process was driven from her office. This included loading the cell phones, setting up data, training the convenors responsible for scanning at the venues and collecting the phones after the exams. She received overwhelmingly positive feedback from invigilators and students alike: 





Scan van studentekaarte is fantasties! Ek het gister 4de jaar Megatronika studente gehad. Hulle was vreeslik beïndruk met die scanning!”

The development and successful completion of the technology was a cross-functional team effort. Hendrik le Roux from Information Technology’s Access Control Division was the project manager and Guzelle Hendricks was responsible for business analysis for the two three-month phases of the project which ran from the end of 2017 to June 2018.  

In addition to Hendrik and Guzelle the following staff played a key role in getting the project off the ground – Phillip Greeff (TAS), Gregory Isaacs (TAS), Anna-Mari du Toit, Marc-Allen Johnson, Jeremy van Rooyen, Charles Hopkins, who wrote the app and Elmar Matthee who was responsible for the back-end development. On the side of the functional stakeholders, besides for Emce, Neels Fourie (Deputy Registrar), and Jan du Toit and Helene Nieuwoudt (both from SISS) participated in the project.


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