Plymouth University’s Phishing Line is cast out to support our end users

The University receives (on average, based on figures from July 2014 up until January 2015) 305,000 email messages every day, the first line of defence is our mailhubs that filter out approximately 80% of all incoming email – due to badly formed or known spam messages.

This system does work well, but it doesn’t prevent all phishing emails reaching end users, as such Strategy & Architecture have launched the Phishing Line, which is a collection of known about Phishing Emails that have been reported within Plymouth University.

It is designed to allow people to quickly check on whether an email can just be deleted, or needs to be reported to the Service Desk for further examination.

It is anticipated that this will assist in the constant battle against Phishing Emails.

Remember: your University account is for your use only, do not provide your password to anyone, if you are unsure about whether an email is genuine or not ask as opposed to clicking links, providing your details and having your account disabled.

A Year of Enterprise Architecture

It’s hard to believe that we have had an Enterprise Architecture capability at Plymouth University for a little over a year now.  Perhaps saying it has been a capability for that length of time is stretching the point a little.  I took up the role of Enterprise Architect late in 2013 and at that time there was little or no idea of what enterprise architecture really was in the broader sense let alone what it would mean for Plymouth.  My first few months were spent trying to align what the books said to what was needed and would be accepted by the University.

I guess we are in the lucky position of having an architecture team of 7 full time architects, two of us within the Enterprise team including an Enterprise Security Architect and the remaining 5 Technical Architects working on the more technical aspects within segments to solution level in many cases.  An Enterprise Architecture Practice was formed from the wider IT organisation consisting of 12 people all of whom expressed an interest in the work.  Early on we agreed that a common language was needed, with this in mind I selected TOGAF as our architectural framework of choice and successfully managed to get 5 of us (including 1 from the enterprise architecture practice) trained to TOGAF 9.1.  From there we could start to climb the mountain together. We started by defining an initial set of Architectural Principles which were agreed at the inaugural Enterprise Architecture Board in December 2013.

The IT organisation at that time had no real idea of what we had, how it joined together and how we could look to the future in a holistic way.  We, as a group started to baseline our architecture, we quickly abandoned this as a lost cause, there were just too many loose ends that couldn’t be tied up, there had previously been very little documentation created around implemented solutions.  Instead we have adopted the idea of capturing the current architecture as we significantly change the existing, or develop afresh.  It will provide the baseline capabilities for the next generation of systems and services to be built upon at Plymouth, which in turn will become the new baseline architecture.  This is already growing at a pace, our only issue now is the lack of an effective architectural tool to help us with the job, we currently use Archi, a free and open source tool based around the Archimate language, it’s actually really good but what we sorely need is a tool with a centralised repository and additional analysis and reporting functionality.

A large part of the year has been spent writing policy, procedure, standards, etc.  Naturally, I started with the governance documentation, the Enterprise Architecture Policy and Procedure documents.  This was followed by sets of technical standards and policies intended to simplify the decision processes throughout the create, develop and run phases of our operation.  All of these documents can be found on the Strategy & Architecture Blog Site.  We currently have:

  • 3 Core Architectural Policies and Procedures;
  • 18 Architectural Principles;
  • 7 Technical Policies;
  • 27 Technical Standards;
  • 3 Security Policies;
  • 1 Security Procedure;
  • 5 Security Guidelines

It has only been in the last four months where Enterprise Architecture is starting to make a difference at Plymouth University.  Since the approval of the documentation by our IT Director, I have been able to implement compliance checks, which are now (or very shortly will be) embedded with the Acceptance Into Service process. This and the effective use of waivers within the architecture processes are helping to control and standardise the approach taken with IT implementations.  Also approved is the IT roadmap, driving towards a goal of “Pervasive Service Consumption” which in turn supports University strategy of edgelessness, empowering people, supporting research and innovation, digital people as well as, excellence in learning and sustainability.

So, what does the coming year hold?  Well, in short more of the same.  We will continue to build on our strengths, increase our portfolio of standards, policies and guidelines.  In addition we will be looking to improve out processes and create new where they are missing to help streamline Enterprise Architecture.  There are of course items missing from out portfolio, proper architectural change management and a suitable repository for our artefacts to name but two, these will be addressed in the coming months.

I am intending to add more posts to this site as things develop.  Please come back to find out more about what’s happening with Enterprise Architecture at Plymouth University.

GEM Award Winners

Three of our team were presented with a ‘Going the Extra Mile’ Award in September.

Nominated and voted for by their colleagues, and presented by Gary Bayliss, the award recognises the successful efforts of Tash, Nick and James in planning and implementing the Festival of Code in collaboration with Service Management colleagues: https://youngrewiredstate.org/festival-of-code

‘… a big thank you to the TIS team here at the university; Nick, Tash, James, Dan, Martin and the rest of the team who worked tirelessly to enable this and who jumped in, last minute, to come up with a solution for the Pavilions.

This was at the core of the success of this years Festival of Code here in Plymouth, further contributing to the reputation of Computacenter and the University.’

Birgitte Aga
Creative Director

i-DAT
Institute of Digital Art and Technology

James Long

James Long

Nick Sharratt and Gary Bayliss

Nick Sharratt and Gary Bayliss

Tash Harden and Gary Bayliss

Tash Harden and Gary Bayliss

Beware of the Phishing Emails!

The university mail systems are constantly bombarded by Spam and Phishing (aimed at emails discovering user account details by clicking constructed links) in emails, the majority of these messages are either deleted or marked as such before being sent to the recipients mailbox.

Phishing emails are getting more and more clever, either by using university details or strategy information that is publicly available.

Please refer to the messages below, that have been received by university staff recently:

SPAM-1

 

The link within the email (Faculty and Staff Portal) will direct any traffic to the following location: http://owa-plymouth-ac-uk-faculty.jigsy.com/ this can be discovered by hovering over the link itself.  As you can see this is not a Plymouth University domain (the ends in “.plymouth.ac.uk), but it is aimed to confuse individuals.

Further down in the email, there are references to the Charles Seale-Hayne Library and Babbage Building, including the opening times for computing resources as well as official university tools for finding ‘Open Access’ computers and their availability.

phishing-2

 

The same principles apply to this communication as the first example, would you be contacted by an entity offering an overseas service, apparently approved by a senior member of staff that also goes on to talk about Student Funding (taken directly from the university website)?  The answer is simply no.  The phisher is using freely available information and appending it to a standard phishing email.

SonicWall have a really useful Phishing IQ test to determine how likely you are to fall foul of these attacks, have a look and see what score your receive?

If you receive emails like this or are unsure whether an email is from a valid source or not, please contact the Service Desk (support@plymouth.ac.uk) for assistance.

Cybercrime – Keep yourself protected

Thanks to a global initiative by the National Crime Agency, the FBI and other security organisations a temporary reprieve from the GoZeus and CryptoLocker malware applications has been provided.  The clock is already ticking before the next global attack is launched that will attempt to either steal your personal data, or encrypt your files and hold you to ransom to retrieve them again.

Whilst this sounds terrible, there are a number of simple steps that you can take to protect yourself in the cyber world:

  • Do not open any email attachments from unknown sources, or click on links you cannot verify (for example, an email entitled Larger mailbox from Plymouth University Support Desk with an email address of support@getmoremail.com)
  • Back up your important data regularly
  • Disconnect all USB sticks and external hard drives when they are not in use
  • Keep you computer (or smart phone) up to date with operating system patches
  • Ensure that you have active antimalware on the device

For University staff and students, there is the ability to procure Kaspersky’s security software at a 50% discount.

Plymouth University named runner-up in national IT innovation awards

A project to enhance the internet connections across Plymouth University’s campus has earned recognition from judges at a national awards ceremony.

The major upgrade, part of a programme of investment in state-of-the-art technology, included an overhaul of the wired and wireless networks in more than 1,700 student rooms and other communal areas.

Real IT Awards

The project has now been named runner-up in the Best Use of Cloud category in the Real IT Awards, which aim to recognise outstanding IT innovation across the private and public sector.

Plymouth was the only educational institution on the awards shortlist, with other nominees including multi-national giants such as Volkswagen, E.ON, GlaxoSmithKline and Pepsi, as well as Government departments and public sector bodies.

Adrian Hollister, Head of Strategy and Architecture in Plymouth University’s Technology and Information Services Directorate, said: “When we saw the calibre of the other nominees, we realised that just being on the awards shortlist was a major achievement in itself, and a vindication of all our hard work on this project. Our students expect to be able to access internet services wherever they are on campus, and it is vital we do not rest on our laurels and remain in a position to meet those expectations. Enabling them to stay connected is a key part of their academic and personal development.”

The four-week upgrade was carried out by leading technology service company CAE, and involved providing a 600Mbit Wireless N service and a 100Mbit wired service, giving students full access to the University’s suite of online resources on all their desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile devices. It enables families and friends to access the internet anywhere on campus during visits.

The upgraded service also includes a commitment to enhancing student employability by recruiting ambassadors for the service, who will become the first point of contact and providing out of hours help if required.

John Wright, the University’s Chief Information Officer, added: “This praise is due recognition for our outstanding technology team, who are consistently pushing the boundaries to keep the University ahead of the game. Through constant innovation, we have created an environment where students and staff can stay connected, and the new high performance wireless network has enabled us to achieve our ambition of supporting learning and leisure for all.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

The wireless upgrade involved the installation of 400 sector-leading Cisco Meraki wireless access points in halls, which have fast data throughput of 600 megabits per second. These devices are connected to the network using 12. 5km of high-tech cabling – CAT7 is the latest standard of cabling and is designed to work the next generation of technology and last around 20 years. An additional 8 Cisco Meraki wireless access points have been installed throughout the student village to provide students with WiFi access in popular outdoor areas including North Hill.

For more information about this press release, contact Plymouth University Press & PR Officer Alan Williams on 01752 588004 or email alan.williams@plymouth.ac.uk.

About Plymouth University

Consistently ranked as one of the leading universities in the UK, and awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2012, Plymouth has a strong record of excellence, enterprise and innovation across its teaching and research activities. Distinguished by its long-term engagement with business and the community, the University enjoys outstanding links with employers and plays a key role in civic and regional leadership. It is the only university in the world to have been awarded the Social Enterprise Mark in recognition of its work in support of the sector.

With around 30,000 students, including those studying higher education at its partner colleges throughout the South West, the University is one of largest in the UK. It enjoys a high rate of graduate employment and has recently invested more than £150 million in its estate and facilities to enhance the student experience and support world-class research.

Plymouth has embedded sustainability across its operations, and is the overall best performing university in the People & Planet Green League. It is the first modern university to found a medical and dental school – the Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry – and is the leading provider of Higher Education in Cornwall. For more information, please visit www.plymouth.ac.uk