Alertus Desktop

Alertus Desktop is a software program licensed by McMaster for delivering emergency notifications to desktop and laptop computer systems. When activated, Alertus will pop up a full-screen alert, taking over the whole screen with a warning that's impossible to miss. The alert can be easily dismissed by simply clicking on the 'Acknowledge' button.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What computer systems does it work on?
Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 10 with the .NET Framework 3.5 installed

Mac OSX 10.5+


How much computer/network resources will Alertus Desktop require?
The Alertus Desktop client is designed to be as light-weight as possible. The application requires less than 20 MB of free hard disk space, and uses less than 15 MB of memory while running. Network bandwidth use is less than 1KB per minute during regular (non-emergency) use.


Who can install Alertus desktop client?
Students, Staff, Faculty or other members of the McMaster community (see note about network connectivity)


When / How often will I receive alerts?
Alertus is designed to alert members of the McMaster community during an emergency that poses an imminent, ongoing, campus-wide threat or danger to the safety of the McMaster community. This could include, but is not limited to, a tornado forecasted to strike McMaster or an active shooter at large on campus.

Alertus will NOT be used for general crime alerts or other situations on campus that do not pose an imminent threat or danger. It will also not be used for non-emergency communications such as campus event announcements, class reminders, news or advertisements.

Tests of the Alertus system are conducted at the beginning of each semester.


How does my computer need to be connected to receive alerts?
Only computers connected to the McMaster network will receive alerts, either hard wired or using McMaster Wireless. Please follow the instructions from UTS here to configure McMaster Wireless.

The Alertus Desktop client icon will indicate your connection status. Yellow means it is connected to the McMaster network and notifications will be displayed. Red means there is no connection, and notifications will not be displayed.

For assistance connecting to the McMaster network, please contact "UTS.


How do I know my privacy is protected?
No personal information is gathered or transmitted from computers running Alertus Desktop, in accordance with the McMaster University Statement on Collection of Personal Information and Protection of Privacy, and UTS Policy on Information Security (2010).


How do I know that the content of the alert is current?
The alert screen displays the time and date that the alert was issued. McMaster Security Services can cancel an alert as needed, as well as provide an 'expiry time'. Desktop alert clients that come online after an alert has been cancelled / has expired will NOT display the alert.


What type of security is in place to prevent malicious activations?
The Alertus Desktop client will only contact the server it is configured to look for. Once a connection is made, cryptographic verification is used. The software uses a uniquely identifiable encryption key, and a matching certificate which is securely signed by Alertus. The client requests this certificate from the server, and verifies that it was issued by Alertus. When the server sends a message, it uses the encryption key to digitally sign the message. If the signature is invalid, or the certificate was not issued by Alertus, the message will not be displayed.


I'm no longer at McMaster and/or I want to remove the Alertus Desktop Client?
No problem, just follow the instructions for removing the application appropriate to your operating system:

Windows 7 Click on Start, Control Panel, Programs and Features. Select the Alertus Desktop Alert and click Uninstall.

Windows XP Click on Start, Control Panel, Add / Remove Programs. Select Alertus Desktop Alert and click Remove.

Mac refer to your computers user manual.


Is Alertus available for my Smartphone / Linux PC?
Not at this time.


Any other things worth noting?
The Alertus Desktop client is only active when the computer is powered on and logged in. This means that a computer a) in standby b) at the log-in screen c) in screen saver lockout will not display the alert (until a user logs in).


Which version should I download?
Two versions of Alertus Desktop are available:

1. Alertus Desktop End User this version is intended for end users who have administrative rights / own their own PC. This version is configured to allow the user to close the Alertus client and choose whether they want it to launch on startup.

For Windows users, click here

For Mac OS users, click here

2. Alertus Desktop Managed Environment this version is intended for departmental IT administrators / managers and is configured to not allow the end user to close or disable the Alertus client.

For Windows users, click here

For Mac OS users, click here


Further Questions?
Please contact Gareth Williams, Security Technology Administrator with McMaster Security Services.