April 2019

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UPDATE:

After a morning of stability we can confirm that the issues we have experienced with the unix home directories and silver storage have been resolved. Some users have experienced problems with the unix home exports towindows and mac, but these have been fixed as well.

In the short term, we will we will do a full health check of our file servers with the supplier. This is expected to take place next week.

In the long term, we will be reviewing the current data storage strategy and looking into more reliable and robust options.

By the end of this week we will have a review meeting of this incident, after which we will send out more technical information.

Thank you all for your patience and apologies again for the disruption.


The intermittent issues affecting Unix home directories and Silver Storage are still ongoing. We are still investigating the problem with the supplier who has made fixing this problem their priority.

All Academic Computing (ACT) services are affected by this.

The issues stems from the Operating System (AOS) causing a system crash (specifically a crash on the ‘server cluster nodes).

This is not directly related to file server activity, however the frequency of the system crashes does seem to be related to the general workload. It was not so frequent or affecting so many of the nodes over the weekend as it is today, as the amount of work was lighter over the weekend.

To help decrease the load on the file server we have disabled access to the Unix home directories from Windows. This will also include disabling access to the personal and group web page files as well as to some research volumes from windows.

We do not have a timeline for the fix yet but check this blog and the IT Status Page for further updates

Apologies again for the disruption, we are doing our best to resolve this as soon as possible.

We are currently experiencing an issue affecting ‘Silver’ storage, including Unix home directories and affecting most of the Academic Computing (ACT) services.

This is being investigated as a priority.

You can follow the status of the service on the IT Status page as well as this blog.

Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

IT

This morning there was a major network issue that caused lack of access to the internet and online University services.

The disruption lasted 75 minutes before we were able to identify what was wrong and fix the issue.

Services are now all back up and running as usual.

We are now working on identifying why this issue happened and will provide an update as soon as we are able to.

Apologies for any disruption this has caused.

UPDATE: We have now fixed the problem for a majority of people. If you are still unable to connect, then:

  1. Restart your device (this fixes the problem in a lot of cases)
  2. If that does not work then; go to wifi.reading.ac.uk and follow the instructions on connecting to eduroam.*

If neither of the above solutions work then please contact the IT Service Desk using the IT Self Service Portal or calling x6262.

*If you have no internet connection in order to connect to wifi.reading.ac.uk, then follow the instructions below to connect:

On your device, select ‘UoR-Setup’ and connect using the password ‘ConnectMe’. This gives you the ability to access wifi.reading.ac.uk but no other websites.


UPDATE: We have now identified the cause of the problem and are currently implementing a solution. We will have a further update later this morning.

The Service Desk is currently experiencing a high number of calls regarding this issue. If you want to report the problem then please consider using the IT Self Service Portal.


We have had multiple reports of people being unable to connect to eduroam this morning. This is not affecting everyone and there are separate reports of people being able to connect as usual to eduroam.

We have identified the problem and the IT department is currently working on a fix. The Critical Incident team will meet for a second time at 10 am, when will have a further update.

Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

IT

As colleagues maybe aware there have been a few articles on prominent websites indicating that the University sector is particularly at risk from cyber-attacks:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-47805451

https://www.jisc.ac.uk/news/universities-high-value-data-can-be-obtained-by-hackers-in-under-two-hours-04-apr-2019

Firstly, IT would like to clarify that Reading has not taken part in any ethical hacking exercise. The BBC article suggested that all Universities had but Jisc have since clarified that it was only Universities who currently consume that service and with their prior knowledge and agreement.

IT would also like to take this opportunity to reassure colleagues that although the threat is ever present we are taking an increasingly robust stance on cyber security. A few examples of this are:

  • We block about 85% of e-mail being sent to University of Reading, the messages being blocked comprise of spam, phishing, extortion e-mails.
  • As part of the IT Security Project we have taken steps to reduce the threat and impact of compromise, such as removing administrative rights on PCs and improving our process for updating PCs and servers.
  • We provide staff with information on how to be aware and stay safe online: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/its/cybersecurity/cybersecurity.aspx and in addition to this IT has signed up to a simulated phishing and awareness training service. This will help IT evaluate how staff currently react to phishing e-mails and to identify areas where we can make improvements.
  • Cyber Essentials certification has been achieved for the Henley Business School and for the Agricultural & Food Investigation Team (AFIT) in Agriculture. Cyber Essentials is a recognised cyber security qualification backed by the government to help organisations protect themselves against common online threats.

The article is helpful in that it raises awareness of the challenges that face the sector and reinforce the need for investments in our security. Whilst we cannot protect against everything, we believe that the iterative improvements we are making are working towards that ultimate goal but a lot more still needs doing.

If you have any particular areas of concern then these can be raised through the IT Service Desk or through your IT Business Partner.