The Academic Computing Team have been working over the last year at developing a new, centrally provided computing service for Academics.

The Reading Research Cloud will enable us to automate management processes and make compute, storage and network resources readily available via a Self-Service Portal.

One of the large problems that Academics face is response time for requests. By using the self-service portal academics will be able to consume resources within minutes rather than days. By utilising cloud technologies that remain on site we are able to offer scalability but at reasonable costs.

The service is due to go live in January 2018 and we are currently working with early adopters and beta testers to prepare the service for delivery. If you are interested in becoming an early adopter or beta tester, please contact Ryan Kennedy, Academic Computing Team Manager via r.j.kennedy@reading.ac.uk.

The Academic Computing Team will be releasing more information over the coming months of what to expect when the service goes live.

IT

Today, and for the rest of the week in the Palmer building, IT will be there to advise you on all the awesome stuff IT gives you.

Matthew Gee, our IT Engagement Officer, will be there to tell you about the services we provide – including 1TB of Cloud storage for FREE.

Here he is yesterday at the academic success fair. Make sure to go up and ask him about what we can do for you.

 

We will also have IT Service Desk staff there to help you with any computer related advice or problems. Look out for them in their black shirts.

We have had multiple reports of a spam email coming into staff mailboxes. The subject line says ‘FINAL VALIDATION NOTICE’ and the main section contains our branding. It looks like this:

This email is not an official email and clicking on the links could potentially harm your computer and compromise the information and documents on it. If you happen to receive this email,  delete it immediately.

If you believe your computer may be at risk then please contact IT, our staff are always happy to help or answer questions.

IT

The University Executive Board (UEB) and Information Security Group have approved 2 new Information Security Policies, available online.

The Information Security Incident Response and Bring Your Own Device Policies exist to ensure that adequate security measures are in place when using personal devices for University business, and that necessary actions are taken in the event of a compromise of University Data. Compromises of data can range from emails being sent to incorrect recipients, lost or misplaced documents or IT equipment, through to malicious hacking of our systems. A means for any staff member to report actual or suspected compromises of University information is now available via the IMPS website.

All staff are required to read the Policies and accompanying procedures for incident reporting.

Contact IMPS for more.

IT

Staff who have a paid for Dropbox account associated with their UoR email have been receiving a planned and approved email from Dropbox Business asking for their details so they can be contacted when this service is available.

There have been some queries as to the legitimacy of this email – it is not spam. Please respond to this email as you wish.

The email is from Alex Stewart who is the Dropbox Education Territory Manager over at Dropbox Business.


It looks like this:

Hi xxxxx,

I’m a member of the UK Dropbox Education team and we’ve been working with your colleague Ryan Kennedy from the Academic Computing Team over the past five months.

Ryan & the team are finalising plans to deploy Dropbox Business across the university. As an existing Dropbox user, sharing your perspective will help. If you choose to respond to this email, providing your name and email address we can share this information with Ryan alongside your interest to upgrade to Dropbox Business. Alternatively, you can reach out to Ryan (r.j.kennedy@reading.ac.uk) directly to express your interest.

Please note that we haven’t shared your current Dropbox account information or any other personally identifying information with The University of Reading’s IT department.

Kind Regards,

Alex Stewart
Dropbox Education Territory Manager


If you receive emails you are unsure about then do not hesitate to contact us. Our staff will be happy to verify the legitimacy of the concerning email.

Contact IT for help regarding emails.

We are aware of issues with some group e-mail accounts where non-delivery reports are being received.

Error message are of the form;


“Delivery has failed to these recipients or group…”


We have identified the cause of this problem and are currently working to fix. We expect the majority of these to be fixed by 13:30 today, and all work completed by the end of the day.

If you are still receiving errors, please report these to the service desk.

Earlier today (27th July 2017) the IT department detected a substantial outbreak of Spyware (a malicious programme that aims to gather information from your computer) across the University affecting over 70 machines. While the programme is being prevented from running properly by the University’s Anti-Virus software, the machines them selves are still infected and there will be some disruption while they are cleaned and the outbreak is contained.

The software is spread via an email which does not have a standard text, but refers to either an email payment or an invoice that needs to be paid. Within the body of the email there is then a link, which when clicked on will mean that software is downloaded and the machine is infected. Two examples are:


Subject:   Please pay your invoice with id number: 539193

Good Day,

Thanks for the mail.

Click here to pay and see your payment details:

<link removed>

If you have any questions related to this attachment, we will be more than happy to assist you.

Sincerely Yours,

<name removed>


Subject: Email payment notification number: 25979

Greetings <name removed>,

Click here to pay and see your payment details:

<link removed>

If you need any further assistance or have queries regarding your invoice, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Regards,

<name removed>


If you receive an email like this you should not click on the link, and should just delete the email. Please remember the normal IT Security advice and be suspicious of all links and attachments you receive by email.

If you have any more questions or require further advice then please contact IT.

 

IT’s new Academic Computing Team Manager, Ryan Kennedy, heads to Washington DC this week to represent the University of Reading at NEXT; a giant IT conference hosted by Nutanix. He will be speaking about how institutions can benefit from using a self-service approach to research computing. Audience members watching Ryan will include NASA, IBM and Intel.

Ryan is the Academic Computing Team Manager at the University of Reading, responsible for physical and technical infrastructure to support research across the University. In this role Ryan and his team look after multiple compute and storage clusters servicing the ever-expanding requirements of academics.

Ryan’s team is currently working creating a cloud based self-service portal for academics to request research computing. This new self-service system allows for quicker turn around on requests and will allow users to more easily see what is available to them. It also provides IT with a more efficient way to work, saving time and money. Ryan will be talking about this approach in Washington, educating huge companies on how they can use the same technology to improve their work.

“I hope to show people new ways of working and how it can help both the users and the technical teams involved”, said Ryan, “I want to show off all the hard work my team has done on this and get it out there so others can benefit from it.”

NEXT takes place between the 28th and 30th of June at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, Washington DC. Ryan’s talk is titled ‘Self Service Everything’ will be taking place on the 29th of June at 15:05 (20:05 UK time).

Live Stream

Sign up to watch the live stream!

As computers become exponentially more involved in our everyday working lives, security is an increasing concern.

It’s therefore essential for security conscious individuals to keep up to date with the latest news and trends. Twitter has emerged as an excellent way of doing this. By following a subsection of the biggest influencers in security, you can stay on top of the industry and any pressing developments — which is why we’ve compiled this list. Next to each recommended account, we’ve given a brief bio and explained what it is they Tweet about.

The List:

1. @mckeay is a Security Expert and Blogger who is very active on Twitter, his longstanding blog and his podcast. He tends to tweet about cybercrime, with a fair bit of security-based humour thrown in for good measure.

2. @gcluley has been working as a Security Expert since the 90s. A prolific Twitter user, Culey shares lots of industry news and articles of interest.

3. @thegrugq is an independent Information Security Consultant and Anti-Forensics Researcher. The Grugq has worked with Fortune 100 companies, leading information security firms, innovative start-ups and the public sector. The Grugq’s tweets are wide ranging: from the funny to the highly technical.

4. @Luis_Corrons has worked as Technical Director for PandaLabs since 1999. He’s a WildList reporter and sits on the AMTSO Board of Directors too. He shares a mixture of helpful security advice, his thoughts on the Panda Security blog and more.

5. @mikko has received many accolades, among them being voted one of the 50 most important people on the web by PC world magazine. @mikk is often a keynote speaker and has spoken for TED and Google. His tweets are wide ranging and occasionally technical. He shares lots of articles from the F-secure blog, where he has worked since 1999.

 

You may have seen recent reports of a significant ransomware incident at UCL. A small number of PCs were infected with malware which encrypted files stored both locally on the PCs and on network file shares. UCL’s Information Services suspect that the malware came from a compromised web site. To reduce the impact and risk of lost data, Information Services at UCL restricted their central file store to read-only whilst they dealt with the incident. As the university has backups and snapshots of the central file servers it looks like no data was lost.

To protect yourself from the risk of malware and losing important data:

· Ensure that software updates and patches are applied (if you see a pop-up stating that updates are ready to be installed, install them as soon as is convenient)

· Use central file shares or OneDrive for Business to store information (local files are not backed up and cannot be restored in the event of encryption by ransomware)

· Don’t fall for scam emails or web sites

· Contact the IT Service Desk if you are uncertain about the validity of an email message or web site

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