Office of Information Technology

Frequently Asked Questions about LANDesk


General Information


Remote User Assistance


IT Asset Management


Patch Management




General Information


What is LANDesk?

LANDesk is an asset management software system used to remotely inventory and manage desktop computers. It has the ability to report on installed software and hardware, allow remote assistance, and install operating system security patches. Comprehensive information can be found at the LANDesk website.

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Is it mandatory?

Yes, LANDesk must be installed on all AU-owned assets.

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Why is OIT deploying the LANDesk Management Suite?

Remote Assistance / Efficiency

OIT strives to provide the best customer service experience. With the customer's consent and LANDesk Remote Assistance, Help Desk analysts can see exactly what the customer sees. This allows them to provide help instantly, over the phone. Field technicians can thus be deployed more quickly to attend to urgent hardware and software issues that require a physical presence.


Asset Management

All workstations with the LANDesk Agent provide valuable inventory data about the machines they are installed on; such as: available storage, total RAM, and age of hardware. This will allow OIT staff and our local support partners to effectively manage the workstation management lifecycle.


Security

LANDesk will enable OIT and your departmental IT support staff to address vulnerabilities remotely and quickly. LANDesk can install software patches on day one, or remotely change workstation settings to counter recently discovered security holes.


Software Updates

The LANDesk Agent, combined with patch management, can ensure that all applications are up to date with the latest security fixes. LANDesk can update a variety of products from many vendors. Even AU specific applications, like the Datatel UI, can be updated through LANDesk.


Reporting

Site administrators using LANDesk can create customized, detailed reports regarding departmental hardware and software assets.

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Will LANDesk work on my Macintosh or other non-Windows computer?

There is a LANDesk client for Mac OS X Tiger and Leopard, as well as a Linux client. LANDesk capabilities vary for each of the different operating systems, but inventory reporting works across all platforms.

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Will LANDesk change settings on my managed computer?

No. The LANDesk Agent communicates exclusively with the LANDesk Core server to ensure that the managed workstation is up to date, and protected from malicious software. Additionally the Agent performs a hardware and software inventory scan, once a day when the computer is idle.

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What can OIT see on my computer after LANDesk is installed?

LANDesk will not permit OIT to view the files on your computer. Using LANDesk, OIT can only view inventory information about the hardware components and software applications. 

When using the Remote Assistance tool, you are able to grant permission to a Help Desk Analyst and to share your desktop with them. During a Remote Assistance session, they will see exactly what you see and be able to move the mouse cursor and type through the keyboard. Please note: permission must be granted for each session before viewing begins.

A Remote Assistance session is just like having that person sitting with you in your office: you will be able to see each action as it is performed. You can stop the session at any time.

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Is OIT using LANDesk to monitor staff, faculty, or student behavior?

No. LANDesk does not monitor staff, faculty, or students; or the websites they visit. LANDesk does check to see if your software applications are up to date with the latest Microsoft patches, as well as patches from other companies such as Adobe, Apple, Corel, Dell, and Symantec. LANDesk also returns important information to administrators about the hardware installed in a university-owned workstation.

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I have sensitive information on my workstation. Is it vulnerable to snooping or tampering via LANDesk?

No. LANDesk does not increase risk. However, be sure that you store all important information on a network resource, like your G or I drive, to ensure that it is secure and backed up. We discourage you from storing sensitive or important information on your workstation. Please contact the IT Help Desk at 202-885-2550, helpdesk@american.edu, or AskAmericanUHelp and ask to have your workstation encrypted.

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Will LANDesk affect the performance of my workstation?

LANDesk has been deployed on over 3600 workstations, both Windows and OS X, with no adverse effects on performance.

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How does LANDesk handle mobile laptops?

The LANDesk Agent is only active while utilizing remote assistance features and sending inventory to the Core Server. The rest of the time, it is inactive and will not interfere with network communication.

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Remote User Assistance


What is Remote Assistance?

The Remote Assistance feature in LANDesk lets you share control of your computer with an OIT Help Desk analyst. This will help OIT to more quickly and accurately troubleshoot and resolve problems. Please note: the Help Desk can not access your computer or provide remote assistance without your explicit permission. To authorize an analyst to help you remotely, you will need to click OK when presented with a remote assistance dialog box.

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Does Remote Assistance work when I am using my workstation off campus?

Yes, Remote Assistance works with workstations that are not on AU's network, using the LANDesk Management Gateway.

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IT Asset Management


What information is in the inventory and when is it collected?

The inventory contains detailed information about all of the hardware components and software applications installed on your computer. It can be used to determine how much and what kind of memory is in your computer, what operating system you have, and the versions of the software that you use. The inventory tool will run no more than once per day.

All of this information assists OIT when troubleshooting a problem with your computer. Inventory information will also help departments evaluate their current technology assets when it is time to buy new computers. The inventory tool cannot access any of your personal files.

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What is Asset Management?

Asset management is a combination of inventory control and maintenance. It helps departments answer basic questions about their computing environment, such as:

  • How many workstations do we own?
  • When did we deploy this workstation?
  • Is the workstation due for replacement?
  • Is the workstation in use?
  • Is the workstation using one of our software licenses?
  • Is the workstation up to date with the latest antivirus signatures?

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Patch Management


Why Patch Management?

Patch Management helps to safeguard AU owned computers and AU data from cyber criminals looking to exploit applications that are out of date. Patch Management keeps operating system software and applications up to date.

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Does Patch Management replace CCA, which is AU's current "health check" solution?

No. CCA will continue to be used to ensure each workstation accessing American University's network, logs in with AU credentials and passes a baseline health check.

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What type of patches will be managed?

OIT will use LANDesk to determine which systems require Microsoft critical and recommended patches, as well as other third party software patches, such as: Adobe, Flash, and Java.

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When will patches be installed?

Patches will be installed on AU workstations on a standard monthly schedule. You will have an opportunity to defer standard patches for at least 7 days, by clicking the SNOOZE button. After the deferral window, the patches will be delivered to vulnerable AU owned computers that have LANDesk client installed.

In addition, there may be a need for an out of cycle patch installation to protect against a Zero-Day threat.

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What is a Zero-Day threat?

Zero-Day is the term used by security professionals to describe a security hole that has been discovered by cyber criminals that was unknown by software developers. If we see or hear of cyber criminals exploiting the security hole, OIT will test, and then install the appropriate patch to vulnerable systems as soon as it becomes available. This installation may occur outside of our monthly schedule. We will notify the community, through Today@AU at a minimum, before installing a patch in these situations.

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Will my workstation's performance be impacted when a patch is being installed?

The performance impact of patching will depend on the type and quantity of patches being applied. However, the impact will be equal to that of installing the patches via the Windows Update site. To minimize user impact, customers are given the opportunity to defer standard patches for at least 7 days.

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How can I ensure that patches are installed at my preferred time?

If you are keeping your applications patched and up to date, it will not be necessary for LANDesk to install patches.

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What happens if a particular patch is not compatible with my system/application?

Before each monthly patching cycle, all patches will be inventoried and announced in Today@AU and via e-mail to our technical team leaders. These patches will be tested internally by OIT as well as by our technical team leaders. We will allow three weeks to pass from the initial release of the patch until the deployment date for end user testing, before patches become mandatory. If you find a patch that is incompatible with your system or application, please report this to the IT Help Desk at 202-885-2550, helpdesk@american.edu, or AskAmericanUHelp and ask to talk with an IT Security staff member about pursuing an exception and documenting the risk acceptance.

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Will patches be installed on my Mac?

At this time, OS X patching has not been implemented. However, we are currently testing the use of the LANDesk Agent for OS X to patch OS X workstations.

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What is LANDesk Desktop Manager?

LANDesk Desktop Manager can be accessed through your computer, and contains the Software Deployment Portal and LaunchPad. The Software Deployment Portal is a feature of LANDesk that deploys software to targeted groups of users. The LaunchPad serves as a standard location for files or applications that should be standardized on all AU workstations. Both features allow OIT to place software patches and software applications in one central location, so users can update and install software from their desktops. You can find instructions on accessing and using LANDesk Desktop Manager here.

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