Cyber Security in 2015

Posted on: February 26, 2015

How is the cyber security landscape evolving? What is the University doing to prepare for the inevitability of future cyber-attacks? How do we know that our academic, research, administrative and financial information, online data resources and personal information is being sufficiently protected?

Answering these questions, and others like them, remains a top priority for UT Austin. Cyber security in the distributed environment we have here continues to raise unique security challenges because some systems on campus meet stringent security requirements, and some do not. With reports of massive and very sophisticated cyber-attacks hitting the news almost weekly, it is essential that UT Austin achieves a balance between professionally supported versus not well supported IT systems. Doing so will help us protect our digital assets and reduce the risk of cyber-attacks at the University.

Recently, a security vulnerability in Linux nicknamed Ghost – required immediate attention. Many IT staff members worked long and diligently to quickly patch over 500 systems, fixing the flaw and protecting campus resources. This is one example of the professionalism, commitment, and rapid response that helps keep campus safe. Here are some other things to note:

  • Toopher, the new two-factor authentication process, continues to be a success with a tremendous adoption rate currently 30,000 individual pairings and no instances of stolen paychecks or W2s by those using the service. This year, UT System will require two-factor authentication on all campuses for other types of high risk IT services. UT Austin and UT System continue to collaborate to find creative approaches to enhance our cyber security moving forward. Based on recent discussions with Chief Information Officers (CIOs) in other large research universities, UT Austin is at the forefront with our two-factor deployment.
  • Implementation of several new IT security policies is on the horizon. These new policies will require training for IT professionals, changes to IT inventory management and stronger management of administrative accounts. More information is available on the security policies page . Information Technology Services (ITS) and Academic Technology Support (ATS) will be testing the initial training and certification program in the coming months.
  • The University of Texas System Board Of Regents recently approved two new security initiatives including funds to refresh the existing UT System shared network monitoring service managed by the Information Security Office (ISO) along with funds for the creation and implementation of the Dell Medical School firewall infrastructure.

With the certainty of frequent and costly breaches within industry and higher education, it is good to know that many steps are being taken to protect the University and avoid the consequences and damages of cyber-attacks on this campus.

Please contact the Information Security Office if you have questions, concerns, or ideas to help us further improve information security on campus. Its important that we continue to do all we can both legally and morally to protect the digital assets of the University.

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