Setting Your Out of Office Message

Microsoft Outlook Out of Office Messages: 
Microsoft Outlook provides a neat little feature that allows you to set up automated messages for when you plan to be out of the office.

Why should you utilize this? 
Planning on stepping out of the office for a while? Whether you’re enjoying the luxury vacation at a 5 star resort in Bora Bora or you’re participating in the company’s annual golfing tournament- if you know you’re going to be out of the office, it’s good etiquette to set an out of office message on your Outlook!  

When should you utilize this? 
Rule of Thumb: Any time you could consider yourself “unreachable. If you know you won’t be near your desktop and able to respond it’s a good idea to use this feature. 

What should you include? 
At a minimum: 
  • Your return date 

  • Who to contact in your absence.  

To make it even easier for you, here are a few sample out of office responses you could use: 

  1. Thank you for your email. I’m out of the office and will be back on (Date of Return). During this period I will have LIMITED access to my email. For immediate assistance, please contact me on my cell phone at(your cell phone number). 

  2.  I will be out of the office starting(Starting Date)through(End Date)returning(Date of Return) and will have only intermittent access to email. If you need immediate assistance during my absence, please contact(Contacts Name)at (Contacts Email Address). Otherwise, I will respond to your email as soon as possible upon my return. 

  3. Thank you for your message. I am currently out of the office, with no email access. I will be returning on(Date of Return). If you need immediate assistance before then, you may reach me at my mobile –(Mobile Number). 

How do I utilize this? 
  1. Simply go to the “File” tab at the top of your Outlook. 

  2. On the main screen, you will see “Automatic Replies (Out of Office)”– click on it. Then a screen like this should pop up:  

  1. Select: Send Automatic Replies. 

  2. Click: Only send during this time range.  

  3. Use drop down bar to adjust your dates. 

  4. Format only your out of office message for “Inside My Organization. 
  5. Click “Okay. 

And you’re ready to go! 

Microsoft Lync Basic Updates to Skype for Business

As you may have recently noticed, your Microsoft Lync Basic now bears the name Skype for Business Online.  This is a very recent development wherein this Microsoft product is now sporting a new brand.  This was an update that BIT originally thought we would be able to control rolling out to State users, but that was not the case.  Microsoft’s automatic update process is doing it instead.

The most noticeable differences are the new interface appearance, logo and color scheme.  All other functions of Skype for Business will be the same as the previous Lync version.  We are sorry for any inconvenience or confusion this unexpected update has caused for your agency and employees.

A reboot of your computer should change Lync to Skype for Business. If your Lync has not been updated to Skype for Business after the reboot, please contact the BIT Help Desk for assistance.

The below image gives an example of the old Lync interface (left) compared to the new Skype for Business interface (right).

Malicious Office Documents

Most state employees work with Office documents every day.  One class of Office capabilities that most state employees rarely use is macros.  What is a macro? A macro is an automated way to perform calculations, tasks, or even something as simple as recording a chain of keystrokes. Macros provide the means for taking long repetitive tasks and automating them with a simple click. Unfortunately there are ways that macros can be used maliciously.

Things to watch out for are:

  • Blank documents;
  • Documents that contain random characters or symbols; and
  • Documents from an untrusted source that prompt you to enable content/macros.

The following is a malicious Excel document with the suspicious objects marked in red (CLICK to enlarge image):

The following is a malicious Word document with the suspicious objects marked in red (CLICK to enlarge image):
Simply running a malicious macro will set off a chain reaction that will have your computer download malicious files behind the scenes, hiding everything as it infects your computer. Once the computer is infected, the sky is the limit for what malicious activities could be performed. Sometimes the infections will perform a variety of malicious tasks that could slow down your machine to a crawl affecting work performance. Other times the infection could be controlled by a human to retrieve sensitive files while watching your every move.
To prevent these activities, do not click on “Enable Content” when Macros are involved in the Security Warning (CLICK to enlarge image):
If you are unsure about the email please forward the message to both: Report Spam email and Nicholas Penning
  • Don’t open documents from unknown users.
  • Watch out for suspicious file names.
  • Do not click on “Enable Content” unless you are certain the document is from a trusted sender and are confident of the document’s contents.
*A special thanks goes out to Nic Penning for providing the BIT Blog with this informational article!