Information Technology Services (ITS)

Working remotely


As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, we will continue to follow the advice of provincial and municipal public health and the division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture.

Icon for announcementsPlease note these pages are a work in progress. Content updated frequently. Check back often.

Also, we would like to hear from you. Reach out to its.myworkplace@utoronto.ca with any questions you may have.


Quick links


Best practices for facilitating hybrid meetings

A hybrid meeting is one in which some participants are gathered together in person while other participants are remote, dispersed across different locations, typically using video and/or audio to connect online. Just as benefits have been noted for development of hybrid course formats, so too can we find the best of both worlds in hybrid meetings.


Good practices and checklist for working from home

Our objective is to ensure that employees are able to work remotely without difficulty should the need arise. This information was informed by responses to the ITS preparedness survey. Use this as a guideline to help you prepare and organize for practical and technical considerations.


U of T information security remote work guidelines

Keeping your data and computing environment safe and secure is a team effort. While the information security team, your Information Technology (IT) support and our vendors work to protect data, applications, devices and the network, every person in our community has a role to play – especially in a changing, post-pandemic world.


Frequently asked questions

Sections:

1. Working from home (set up)

For Digital Workplace clients, please refer to the Enterprise Application and Solutions Integration (EASI) remote work guide. This web page will answer all questions related to devices as well as accessing work-related administrative systems, software and files.

You can also access the Working Remotely with Managed Desktop one-pager for a condensed, shareable guide to your remote work options. Download it here.

As non-Digital Workplace clients, please refer to the EASI remote guide for non-managed desktop users. This web page will answer all questions related to devices as well as accessing work-related administrative systems, software and files.

If you have access to the Enterprise Service Centre (ESC), please fill out a ticket by visiting: https://uthrprod.service-now.com/help.

Most Internet Service Providers (ISP) including Bell, Rogers and TekSavvy offer unlimited data plan packages. In order to avoid costly data overage charges associated with capped data plans, we recommend that you compare the prices of unlimited data plans across multiple ISPs to find a package that can accommodate the increased data usage demands of remote work/study.

2. Working remotely (VPN & security issues)

There are three major VPN services run by Information Technology Services (ITS): UTORvpn, AdminsysVPN and LegacyVPN.

UTORvpn* provides secure access via an encrypted tunnel to University resources from off-campus. Dynamic internet protocol (IP) addresses are automatically assigned. To connect, you must install the Cisco AnyConnect software onto your computer. Once installed, connect via: general.vpn.utoronto.ca and sign into the “UTORvpn” group with your UTORid. eToken is not required. Click here for more information.

AdminsysVPN** provides secure access to the U of T Adminsys environment (e.g., Repository of Student Information (ROSI) or Administrative Management System (AMS)). Dynamic internet protocol (IP) addresses are automatically assigned. eToken and Cisco AnyConnect software are both required. Once installed, insert your eToken and connect via: port.eis.utoronto.ca and sign into the “Admin Systems VPN” group with your UTORid. Click here for more information.

LegacyVPN*** is a remote access VPN service that provides both static and dynamic internet protocol (IP) addresses. To connect, you must install the OpenVPN software onto your computer. Further instructions are provided here.
(Note: Eventually, LegacyVPN will be replaced. However, the replacement process has been postponed to ensure all users requiring VPN during this time are able to continue to do so. The switch will be made at a time when it will not impact critical connectivity. Users are encouraged to move to the UTORvpn service if possible).

UnitVPN (or departmental VPN) is provided by divisions or units for secure access to the Adminsys environment and departmental file servers via dynamic internet protocol (IP). The required URL is different for each unit — please contact the IT Help Desk to inquire. Both eToken and Cisco AnyConnect software are required.

*Also referred to and known as general purpose VPN or UTORvpn – AnyConnect.
**Also referred to and known as AdminVPN.
***Also referred to and known as UTORvpn – OpenVPN.

For more information, visit https://isea.utoronto.ca/services/vpn/.

No. It is recommended that clients do not connect to VPN services when using audio and video conferencing tools, including Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Connecting to the VPN could result in poor audio and video quality.

Some other local University units run VPN services for their own communities. Contact your IT Help Desk for more information.

The general purpose VPN & UTORvpn are general remote access VPN services that protects connections from suspect networks when traveling and allows users to appear as connected to the campus wireless network. Both these services are available to staff, faculty and select groups of students. For more information, visit https://isea.utoronto.ca/services/vpn/utorvpn/.

The eToken is the University’s multi-factor authentication product, which is used to connect to high-value applications like the Administrative Management System (AMS). eToken purchasing is processed at the department level by designated eToken administrators. For more information, visit https://isea.utoronto.ca/services/etoken/.

AdminsysVPN allows the owners of administrative and academic systems as well as department administrators to enforce strong authentication and secure connections. Access to AdminsysVPN is limited to those authorized to access systems it protects. An eToken is required for this access.

UTORvpn is a general-purpose remote access VPN service. It connects your computer to the University’s network and protects the traffic across suspect intermediate networks. UTORvpn is typically used for convenient access to library e-resources and services, which may be restricted to on-campus networks. It should not be used for privileged access or other security-sensitive work; please see AdminsysVPN for those needs.

UTORvpn is available to all University faculty and staff who have a valid UTORid. Additionally, active graduate students and students may use this VPN.

UTORvpn cannot be combined with other network security measures, such as anonymous VPNs or anonymous browser (TOR). When connected, all network traffic from your computer will pass through the VPN. You will sign into this VPN service using your UTORid and password. For more information, visit https://isea.utoronto.ca/services/vpn/utorvpn/.

Once your session is complete, please disconnect from the VPN. Unintended usage may negatively affect performance of the VPN for others.

Please be respectful of your community members who legitimately utilize this service for academic research and other professional activities. Please try to avoid using any streaming platforms while using the VPN (e.g., YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, etc.) as these streaming services can easily deteriorate the VPN experience for everybody utilizing this service.

AdminsysVPN is a service to provide a secure network connection to access University administrative systems (ROSI, AMS, etc.). You will require an eToken to sign into administrative system VPN. AdminsysVPN is available to authorized administrative staff or faculty only.

If you use administrative system VPN at work, install the eToken client on your remote device. Download/install Cisco VPN software with setup instructions from: https://isea.utoronto.ca/services/vpn/adminvpn/.

If an individual is using more than 5GBs of data within a span of a day, they will receive a warning email from vpn@utoronto.ca. Once your session is complete, please disconnect from the VPN. Unintended usage may negatively affect performance of the VPN for others.

File sharing has been opened on the general purpose VPN, which corresponds to the University’s internet protocols (IPs) ranges. However, this is not supported on AdminsysVPN*. In order to access file shares on the University network, you must log out of AdminsysVPN and login to the general purpose VPN: general.vpn.utoronto.ca.

AdminsysVPN is configured to enable “split tunnel,” which means that when you are connecting to the Adminsys environment (e.g., accessing Repository of Student Information (ROSI) or Administrative Management System (AMS)), you are connecting through the VPN “tunnel” established between your computer and the U of T Adminsys environment. When you are connecting to anything else on the internet, traffic is routed to the connection provided by your internet service provider (ISP) and your traffic will appear from the IP address assigned by your ISP.

*Also referred to and known as AdminVPN.

The University has five VPN servers currently running with the ability to increase to eight, if needed. Each server can handle up to 10,000 concurrent connections. Each single server has eight central processing units (CPU) and 16G memory to support 10G throughput. For the past week (Mar. 16 – Mar. 23), the average daily maximum concurrent connections have been around 700 collectively for all five servers. View the usage statistics here.

3. Alibaba Cloud Enterprise Network (CEN) service

Access is granted to all U of T staff, faculty and students in mainland China with a UTORid. Use this service only to access U of T resources from within mainland China.

U of T students located anywhere within mainland China can access the service.

In order to provide access to University of Toronto (U of T) online resources for students and others residing in mainland China, U of T has signed a contract with Alibaba for a network service. Chinese companies are required to operate in accordance with China’s cyber security laws and there is an inherent risk of monitoring for individuals in mainland China using any network solution.

The Alibaba Cloud Enterprise Network (CEN) system enhances the student experience by providing a lower latency connection to U of T services for those connecting from mainland China. This optional service allows for a fast, reliable and consistent connection to U of T‘s network and in turn its online learning resources such as Quercus, Collaborate Ultra and more.

Yes, U of T faculty located in mainland China can access the Alibaba Cloud Enterprise Network (CEN) service with a valid UTORid.

Yes. A valid UTORid is required for all U of T faculty and students to log into the service.

The Alibaba Cloud Enterprise Network (CEN) may only be used to access online resources that are related to your U of T academic work. If you encounter an academic-related service that you are unable to access via the Alibaba Cloud Enterprise Network (CEN), please email the Information Commons help desk and provide them with the specific web URL and name of the online service that you are attempting to reach.

For more information, visit the Information Commons website.

YouTube is not accessible on the Alibaba CEN network. It is recommended that professors record and store media content in the MyMedia platform — U of T‘s storage and streaming solution. Staff and faculty can login to MyMedia here with a valid UTORid. Alternatively, you can upload and share video content through Microsoft Stream.

UTORvpn cannot be combined with other network security measures, such as anonymous VPNs or anonymous browser (TOR). When connected, all network traffic from your computer will pass through the VPN. You will sign into this VPN service using your UTORid and password. For more information, visit https://isea.utoronto.ca/services/vpn/utorvpn/.

The service became available as of July 9, 2020.

The system grants access to U of T‘s online learning resources such as Quercus, Collaborate Ultra and more. See section 3.6 for more information.

For technical support with the Alibaba Cloud Enterprise Network (CEN) service, please visit the Information Commons website.

For technical support with the Alibaba Cloud Enterprise Network (CEN) service, please visit the Information Commons website.

4. Remote video/voice conferencing

Yes, it’s called Microsoft Teams Video. It’s free, on-demand, video-conferencing software that staff and faculty can use to host and run virtual meetings, presentations and even virtual office hours.

You need a faculty or staff UTORid to create a video meeting. However, please note: you do not have to be a member of a Team to create a video and participants do not have to have a UTORid – you can invite people from anywhere.

Knowledge base for Microsoft Teams:
https://uthrprod.service-now.com/sp?id=kb_category&kb_category=26981357dba50090c45b325f9d961910

If you have questions related to MS Teams Video, please email: need.team@utoronto.ca.

Yes. Technically, your office phone should work if you bring it back home and connect to your home internet router/modem. However, you must have both your Polycom phone and an AC adapter to power the phone.

Once your work phone is set up at home, the next step is to call your bridge number and enter the conference ID and instruct all your participants to do the same. If you do not have a phone and an AC adapter, you can install and use Communicator 7 software on a computer or a mobile phone and click on “My Room,” then ask your participants to call in. Please note: you need to be on a Premium plan to use this feature. If you don’t know your conference bridge number and/or ID, it can be found within Communicator 7’s “My Room” feature. If you can’t find this information, request it by emailing: voipsupport@utoronto.ca.

View these video instructions on how to use group conference call with your VoIP softphone client Communicator 7.

  1. Visit: http://www.myphonetraining.com/video-tutorials/.
  2. Click on “Launch tutorial for Communicator 7 – Windows”.
  3. Click “show me”.
  4. Click “connect to my room via voice call”.

Yes. Dial-in audio conferencing is available for all University of Toronto staff, librarians and faculty who are not able to connect to a Teams meeting through the app on their laptop or mobile device. Anyone who has the dial-in number and conference ID can join a Teams meeting, unless the meeting organizer has locked the meeting. Users do NOT need to be a member of a Team – meetings can be scheduled completely independently.

For more information on Microsoft Teams audio conferencing, visit https://easi.its.utoronto.ca/shared-services/office365/teams/microsoft-teams-audio-conferencing/.

To maintain professionalism, it is advised that you wear professional clothing and join the call from a work-appropriate, quiet location. To avoid feedback or background noise, it is recommended that you mute your microphone when listening. Also, avoid checking emails, perusing the internet and other distractions during the call. Lastly, ensure you activate/turn on your video camera.

5. Phone

The Communicator 7 soft client is available for VoIP users to install on their home computer or smartphone so that they can make and receive calls using their U of T phone number. This is the recommended method for making and receiving calls using the UofT VoIP service. Client software can be downloaded from the Telecommunications website (link below).

However, some users may prefer or require the multi-line capability or other features that can be delivered only with the Polycom hard phones that they have on their desks at the office. To use your U of T Polycom VVX-411 VoIP phone at home, you need either a Polycom Universal Power Supply power adapter (Polycom part #2200-48560-001) or any Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) enabled switch.

Click here for more information about VoIP at U of T.

  1. Call your U of T number from any home or cell phone.
  2. When you hear your greeting, press * to access the voicemail portal. Press * again (because you are not calling from your office phone).
  3. The system will prompt you to enter your phone number and your password.
  4. Press “1” when prompted to access your voicemail portal.

Yes. Technically, your office phone should work if you bring it home and connect it to your home internet router or modem. However, you will need an AC adapter in order to power the phone and most clients do not have an adapter because most likely the phone in the office is getting power from the network switch.

An easier way to bring your office phone back home is to install the VoIP softphone client Communicator 7. It is available for both Windows and Mac as well as on mobile devices. Download the software here: www.myphonetraining.com/downloads

Please note: if you are installing Communicator 7 on your personal computer, it must be equipped with a microphone and speakers. If your PC does not have a microphone, you can connect an external USB headset with a microphone instead. Laptop and mobile devices already have a built-in microphone and speakers.

To use Communicator 7, you will need your phone credential. The username is your 10-digit phone number (no dashes, no spaces) and the password should have been provided to you by your department. If you do not know your Communicator 7 password, please email voipsupport@utoronto.ca.

Yes. Technically, your office phone should work if you bring it back home and connect to your home internet router/modem. However, you must have both your Polycom phone and an AC adapter to power the phone.

Once your work phone is set up at home, the next step is to call your bridge number and enter the conference ID and instruct all your participants to do the same. If you do not have a phone and an AC adapter, you can install and use Communicator 7 software on a computer or a mobile phone and click on “My Room,” then ask your participants to call in. Please note: you need to be on a Premium plan to use this feature. If you don’t know your conference bridge number and/or ID, it can be found within Communicator 7’s “My Room” feature. If you can’t find this information, request it by emailing: voipsupport@utoronto.ca.

No. It is recommended that clients do not connect to VPN services when using audio and video conferencing tools, including Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Connecting to the VPN could result in poor audio and video quality.

6. Events

As of March 12, 2020, the U of T Vice-President & Provost Office has recommended cancellation or postponement of all discretionary events that are not required as part of courses and academic requirements. Review the University's latest message for updates.

7. Remote desktop gateway/remote desktop protocol

We configure our workstations to only accept incoming Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) connections from the RDG Server – all other attempts to connect are blocked at the network firewall (Cisco ASA) and at the workstation firewall level (Microsoft Windows Firewall).

UTORcsi runs an RDG gateway with access by local UTORcsi account and password. This would be a key service for the users in UTORcsi. There are nuances to using this depending on whether the remote device is managed by UTORcsi or not (i.e., one might be able to login with UTORid/pw or you might need to use the UTORcsi VPN).

It is not possible to use RDP only (i.e., without an RDG) from an external device to an internal device due to perimeter firewall rules. However, this can be done using a VPN (i.e., RDP over VPN).

Enterprise Active Directory operates an RDG service. The service is currently scaled to 500 concurrent users maximum and eToken is required for authentication, which means it is not used for large groups of people working remotely.

8. Internet connectivity

If you are having trouble connecting to a specific website or having overall internet connection issues, these resources can help identify the problem:

Rogers outage report: https://istheservicedowncanada.com/status/rogers

Bell outage report: https://istheservicedowncanada.com/status/bell-canada

Website/service outage reports: https://downdetector.ca or https://downforeveryoneorjustme.com

Internet speed performance test: https://www.speedtest.net.

If you are having internet connectivity issues that aren’t being reported by your service provider, check if:

  • your computer is disconnected from the network (check your network settings);
  • your modem and/or router needs resetting or is disconnected;
  • your network cable is disconnected (if your computer is wired);
  • your software is misconfigured for access to the internet.

For more information, visit https://www.russharvey.bc.ca/resources/internet.html.

Enterprise Active Directory operates an RDG service. The service is currently scaled to 500 concurrent users maximum and eToken is required for authentication, which means it is not used for large groups of people working remotely.

9. Students

Students should submit inquiries regarding internet access via https://www.utoronto.ca/covid19-contact.

Internet speed performance test: https://www.speedtest.net.

The University of Toronto has identified the minimum technical requirements needed for students to access remote/online learning. This web page outlines required operating systems, web browsers, storage, internet speed and much more. See the full list here.

10. Information security

At a minimum, the U of T Information Security Council and Chief Information Security Officer recommend:

  • Use supported versions of operating systems.
  • Patch and update the operating system and software/applications with respect to security vulnerabilities.
  • Have fully enabled, automatically updating anti-virus software, for Windows computers where possible.
  • Protect devices with a strong password and/or biometrics.

For more information, download the University of Toronto Information Security Remote Work Guidelines.

Also, visit the Remote Security Matters webpage to learn how to:
 

The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, Canada’s authority on cyber security, provides advice and guidance for employees who are working remotely. Read through these cyber security tips for remote work to ensure you are practicing safe cyber security.

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), an organization committed to developing and implementing policies that support Canada’s internet community, has released a free cyber security course focusing on best practices for working from home.

To protect yourself from the dangerous effects of malicious software:

  1. If you use a Windows computer, install Microsoft Defender (anti-virus for Windows); it is available for no charge on University-owned or leased equipment.
  2. Enable automatic updates on your computer.
  3. Only download and use products and software that are approved by your department.
  4. See this tip sheet on how to protect yourself from phishing attacks.
  5. Promptly report incidents to your IT personnel.

For more information on how to protect your devices against malware while working remotely, visit https://securitymatters.utoronto.ca/protections-against-malware/.

If you suspect a social engineering attack, do not click on any links or open any documents, do not respond or provide any personal information and contact your local IT department to report the attack.

If you received a suspicious email (phish attempt):

Click here for information on how to spot social engineering attacks.
Click here for more information on how to handle social engineering attacks.

The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, Canada’s authority on cyber security, has curated a selection of advice and guidance resources to help the businesses and institutions that are being targeted by cyber threat actors. Download the guidelines now.

The U of T Information Security Council and Chief Information Security Officer recommend:

  • Enrolling in UTORMFA.
  • Encrypting data when stored on devices.
  • Reporting to your local IT management and security.response@utoronto.ca any lost, stolen, or compromised devices holding University data or enrolled in a university authentication system as a trusted device.
  • Using secure connection methods that are encrypted, such as a virtual private network (VPN), secure shell protocol (SSH), and transport layer security (SSL/TLS) to connect to university systems before accessing data.
  • Storing data on university-managed systems. The University's offering of Office 365 is considered a university-managed system for this purpose. Your department may have others.
  • Not sharing your devices with persons other than those authorized to access the data.

For more information, download the University of Toronto Information Security Remote Work Guidelines.

11. Microsoft Teams (meetings, messages, privacy)

To ensure a quality audio and video connection, make sure you are connected to high-speed internet and try to remain in close proximity to your WiFi modem. However, connecting directly through an Ethernet cable is recommended when possible. Additionally, disconnecting from an open remote desktop or virtual private network (VPN) will provide the best connection quality.

It is also recommended that you join meetings from the Teams app — the version installed on your laptop, mobile device or desktop — as it has the greatest functionality.

Click here for best practices for using Teams at home.
Click here for best practices for Teams meetings.
Click here for a step-by-step introduction to Teams meetings.

If you can’t hear sound or you can’t be heard by others, check your computer’s sound settings.

On a Mac:

  • Navigate to System Preferences -> Sound
  • Use the Output tab to set volume
  • Use the Input tab to set microphone gain

On a Windows PC:

  • Navigate to Control Panel -> Sound
  • Adjust Input (microphone) and output (speakers) as needed

If you encounter sound choppiness or video signal delays during a Teams meeting, you may not have enough bandwidth available from your home connection. Try these troubleshooting tips:

  • Turn off the video feed from your camera (click on the camera icon on Teams until it is crossed out).
  • Check to see that you are not running a virtual private network (VPN) or a remote desktop connection. You do not need these to participate in a Teams meeting and they may slow down your connection.

Microsoft Teams is protected by the same security standards as Office 365. Details of security and compliance to standards are provided in Microsoft’s trust centre and have been reviewed by the University. Teams customer data stays within the tenant. Teams enforces team-wide and organization-wide authentication through Active Directory and encryption of data in transit and at rest. Files are stored in SharePoint and are backed by SharePoint encryption.

Learn more: https://uthrprod.service-now.com/sp?id=kb_article&sys_id=a6e722e8db58d8545030735a8c96199a.

Yes, you can edit any message or file you sent to a Teams chat or channel.

To edit or delete a message, hover over your message and select the extended menu (three dots), then select Edit or Delete.

To delete a file you shared with a Team, first select the specific Team and channel with which you have shared the file. Then click the File tab in the top menu. Once you locate the file in that list, click the extended menu (three dots) and select Delete. To permanently delete files, go to the Team SharePoint, select Recycle bin in the left-hand menu, select the file and select Delete.

Learn more: https://uthrprod.service-now.com/sp?id=kb_article&sys_id=69b572a4db1cd8545030735a8c961936.

12. Recording & sharing lectures

Yes, they can be. There are several possible reasons why a lecture or class session might be recorded for teaching and learning purposes. Most frequently, lectures are recorded for use as a study aid.

Learn more about the considerations, guidelines and policies that apply to lecture recordings.

Instructors can pre-record videos prior to the class or record live sessions. Self-service platforms such as Teams, Zoom and TechSmith Snagit are available, as well as technician-supported options with the Learning Space Management team.

Learn more about the tools available for recording a lecture.

13. Participating in hybrid meetings

A hybrid meeting is one in which some participants are gathered in person, while other participants are joining remotely, typically using video and/or audio to connect online. Best practices include preparation prior to the meeting, setting inclusive expectations and practices during the meeting and following up after the meeting. Download the full Best Practices for Facilitating Hybrid Meetings as a PDF.

Any meeting room with an internet connection can accommodate a standard hybrid meeting with a laptop or phone.

However, if you have specific needs, your meeting is not standard or you are interested in investing in more specialized equipment, see the following list of recommendations:

  • Internet connection (ideally a wired connection as opposed to relying on Wi-Fi)
  • A dedicated computer or appropriate ports for attaching a laptop
  • A device that can run Microsoft Teams and Zoom
  • A dedicated camera (as opposed to one built into the device)
  • Data projectors (digital projection) and TV monitors
  • Sound systems, including proper microphones and echo-cancelation technology
  • A control system (a device that allows for items like multiple inputs, lighting control, etc.)
  • Room booking system (to avoid scheduling conflicts)

Visit this page for more information about converting rooms for hybrid or remote meetings.

Contact your divison's Information Technology (IT) department, as they may have already developed meeting room configurations, including setting up wired internet connections, and they can provide ongoing support.

If you are interested in a more robust, formal meeting room set-up, the University has pre-approved suppliers for AV projects.

Visit this page for more information about converting rooms for hybrid or remote meetings

Occasionally, your meeting room may also be a bookable “classroom.” To convert a room for hybrid meetings, contact the Learning Space Management (LSM) team (at the St. George campus) or the Information & Instructional Technology Services (IITS) departments (at UTM and UTSC). They may already have plans for your room, or they can make recommendations.

LSM (St. George): https://lsm.utoronto.ca
UTM IITS: https://www.utm.utoronto.ca/iits/
UTSC IITS: https://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/iits/

14. Remote workplace guidelines

Coming soon.

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Working remotely resources

Review these resources to manage and enhance your remote working experience.

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Feedback and resource submission

All divisions are encouraged to submit feedback and links to work environment resources for inclusion on this web page.


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