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Information Security Advisory: Patch now - Windows RDP Vulnerability

We would like to call your attention to the Microsoft released an advisory and patch today, May 14th,  for an RDP vulnerability that affects at least Windows XP, 7, 2003, and 2008.  The vulnerability can be exploited remotely, in default configuration, without authentication, and with low effort/complexity (for reference, WannaCry was a "high" complexity attack).  This patch release includes an unprecedented release of patches for 2003 and XP.

We are currently assessing the impact and will be releasing additional information, but I strongly encourage you to patch as soon as possible.  As with any patching, testing is highly recommend and it is too soon to say if there are known issues with patching but do not wait longer than necessary on this one.  I also encourage you to review systems for the need to have RDP access turned on at all and especially those open directly to the internet.

Chemistry O365 migration -- Complete successfully!

We have completed handing over our MX records to the Office 365. This final step completes our email migration to Office 365. Alchemy (our previous mail server) has been shut down for the mailing services. The Department will no longer be running its own mail server, and alchemy will be retired from our DNS records. Anyone requesting 'alchemy' as a DNS name will most likely be denied. 

We will hold on to the backup copies of emails on alchemy for one (1) year, after which, for security reasons, we will delete the backup email copies.

If you wish for us to delete your files sooner, please let us know. If you wish to get a copy of the files, please let us know.

This migration project took us nearly 1.5 years to finish. We would like to thank everyone for your patience, cooperation, and understanding.

Microsoft Ending Support for Windows 7

All software products have a life-cycle. After January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or support for PCs running the Windows 7 operating system. After this date, this product will no longer receive free:

•         Technical support for any issues
•         Software updates
•         Security updates or fixes

Computers running the Windows 7 operating system will continue to work even after support ends. However, using unsupported software may increase the risks from viruses and other security threats.

We encourage users and administrators to upgrade to a currently supported operating system BEFORE January 2020. For more information, see the Microsoft End of Support FAQ.

Two Chemistry ECF talks at TKF 2018

TechKnowFile is an annual Tech conference for University of Toronto Staff and Faculty. It is held on May 3 and 4, this 2018 year. The Chemistry ECF Team will be presenting two talks:

  • "Keeping an eye on your assets through Zabbix" by Renante Yson
  • "Blockchain Tutorial: The basic building blocks of a blockchain application" by Violeta Gotcheva

For more information visit

Quercus in A&S

Quercus – the new Learning Management Engine (LME) is here! Access to Blackboard will expire on 31 August 2018. Materials stored in BB (e.g. course materials) will need to be exported before August 31 or they will be lost.

The A&S Quercus site - - contains information about

  • how to export course material
  • training sessions
  • contacting support 

We encourage everyone to get familiar with the transition to Quercus from Blackboard.


ECF have been relocated to LM 204A (Chemistry Learning Centre)

Due to the renovation project, ECF have been temporary relocated to LM 204A (Chemistry Learning Centre). Our office hours are Monday to Friday (8:45am to 5pm). Please submit work orders and new account forms to our office at LM 204A. We will be relocating back to LM436 (e-shop) during the week of July 15, 2017.

CRITICAL VULNERABILITIES - April 2017 - Microsoft Operating System Products

This past weekend, exploit tools were released to be used against Microsoft operating system vulnerabilities. Malicious use of these tools will result in remote code execution on the compromised machines. Please ensure immediate patching and rebooting of current Windows operating systems, desktops and servers, ASAP. There are no patches for unsupported Windows operating systems including: Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and older. These systems must be upgraded ASAP to supported software.Chemistry ECF staff will be scanning the systems connected to the Chemistry network. We will be contacting group leaders when we identify issues and will work with you to meet the minimum security requirements. Your prompt response and cooperation is needed to address the issues immediately. Microsoft has fixed the vulnerabilities for their currently supported platforms, as of March 14th:


We are presenting at TKF 2017 a talk by Jack Jackiewicz, Amy Hrdina, Meagan Willis and Violeta Gotcheva featuring Chemistry Electronics FacilityAbstract: There is a mix of old and new scientific equipment in almost every research lab at the University of Toronto. From simple heaters and stirrers to gas chromatographs and liquid-gas-cooled electron microscopes, faculty and students are reaching often to new designs and uses for laboratory equipment to be able to solve challenging scientific problems. The Electronics Facility at the Department of Chemistry works with scientists to support their efforts in finding the best designs, affordable fixes and highly customized solutions. Via collaboration with our customers, we are able to meet their needs with up to date microprocessor controlled designs. In this talk, we will feature selected electronics projects developed by the Chemistry Electronics Facility and inspired by the faculty and students.


Windows Vista Support is Ending

After April 11, 2017, Windows Vista customers will no longer receive new security updates. We encourage everyone with windows Vista system to upgrade to a supported Windows version if possible.  Official announcement from Microsoft is posted at this link: