Friday, 26 October 2012

University Hacking Attacks and Data Breaches

There have been a number of very high profile hacking incidents affecting US and UK Universities with the most recent being widely reported in the media.

From my experience, University computing environments tend to be far more heterogenous than would be found in a business or corporate setting and the management of systems more distributed making security an even greater challenge. This combined with the very fast Internet links into Universities make them good targets for hackers or spammers.

There are a number of things we can all do to reduce the likelihood of an incident. I've listed a few below which is not exhaustive by any means:
  • Regular internal and external penetration testing should also be encouraged to ensure the external posture of Internet facing systems is known and remedial action taken where required
  • Regular patching of systems and applications to ensure software is maintained at current and supported levels.
  • An information security policy which is maintained and widely known throughout an organisation
  • Basic good practice around access and identity management including firewalls, anti virus and anti malware solutions.

There is some very good advice available at which I would encourage everyone involved in the support of IT to read. It's also written in a way that all ICT users can make use of the advice across a wide range of areas.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

BT Openzone - University of St Andrews

Following the expansion of the University's wireless network to all campus buildings and all University owned accommodation (including bedrooms) we wanted to be able to leverage this asset further. By working with a third party it was recognised we could provide wifi services to a greater range of campus visitors by separating our academic wifi requirements from our public requirements. This was also essential to ensure we remained within the terms of our contract with Janet UK our network provider.  

BT Scotland Director Brendan Dick said: “BT is really excited to be working on this project with the University of St Andrew, bringing a 21st century technological advantage to a historic town. It will not only provide widespread wireless internet access for visitors to university sites, but has the potential to be extended out across the town benefiting local residents, business people and visitors.

“A public BT Wi-fi network would be a major new asset to help enhance the visitor experience for the thousands of tourists, shoppers and golfers who make a significant contribution to the local economy. The University of St Andrews is to be commended for its vision and its wish to make sure that its local community can also reap the benefits of its technological development. We look forward to working closely with the university on the project in the months and years ahead.”  

We launched this service today on a small part of the campus and will roll this out further to all areas of the campus before the end of the year. This will provide members of the public, visitors and non academic conference delegates the ability to access the Internet.