IT News

Two Factor Authentication –
Secure Remote Access to UW Computers

Hacked computers are constantly in the news. Hackers and their sophisticated, automated hacking programs use the Internet to constantly try to break into business, institutional and personal computers, including UW’s. IT has to provide protection from these constant attacks, balancing campus and network access for faculty, staff and students with securing sensitive data such as student information, personnel materials, financial records, and medical information.

UW’s network firewalls help limit these hacker attacks from the Internet by requiring valid UW usernames and passwords. This access to the UW computers is called VPN or Virtual Private Network. The limitation with VPN is that UW usernames and passwords can, and often are, compromised (hacked).

WyoSecure diagram

smart phonesSimilar to your online bank accounts, UW users who need higher levels of secure access to certain UW computers from off campus are now requested to use two methods to verify their identity. This is called two factor authentication, since the identity of the user is verified in two ways: 1) their username and password and 2) verifying their identity through a simple, easy to use smart phone application. While hackers half a world away may be able to steal or hack a username and password, they cannot get access to a phone in the user’s possession. This second form of authentication will be required for users accessing sensitive UW data, such as HRMS, PeopleSoft, and financial records. It will not be required for self-service, or visiting non-public sites at this time.

authentication

Other options of authentication are available for users who do not have a smartphone. Signing up for two factor authentication takes just the few quick steps listed out in How To Use Your Two-Factor Authentication Account (www.uwyo.edu/askit/3302/).

 
 

High Performance Computing with High Performance Help

UW’s high performance computing cluster, Mount Moran, was made available this February to a group of researchers ready to test its limits. With utilization already hitting around 90%, IT is planning to more than double Mount Moran’s computing capacity this summer from 26 teraflops to about 70 teraflops.

Mount Moran is designed as a condo style cluster that allows researchers to purchase their own computational resources (nodes and/or storage). The benefit of the condo model is that in addition to having access to their own nodes users get additional access to spare nodes that aren’t currently in use. Access to unused computing resources makes it easy for the researchers to expand their models in the short term and to get computational work done faster.

A portion of Mount Moran is considered communal. The communal resources allow researchers to test out their computing code, to facilitate writing grant proposals, to help them decide if they're ready to purchase nodes, or to validate their code before moving on to a larger, national resource.

Access to Mount Moran can be requested at the Advance Research Computing Center (ARCC) website (https://arcc.uwyo.edu). The website also contains information about all ARCC services, including how to run a job on the cluster, and how to contact IT Research Support staff members who can help.

Collaboration is an important element of research. UW IT wants to make that easy. Accounts can be created for non-UW researchers working with UW faculty, so research teams that include individuals from other universities can all have access to Mount Moran.

Along with providing access and support for Mount Moran, IT also has staff that can help optimize research computing code and make recommendations for using the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center in Cheyenne. IT wants to help researchers across campus use high performance computing effectively.

Please email any comments or questions to arcc-info@uwyo.edu.

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Mathematica Now Available at UW - Free

Mathematica symbolWhether you are simulating the behavior of waves after a tsunami or mapping the structure of a newly discovered protein molecule, Mathematica can help with the analysis and visualization of data. UW is excited to be able to offer Mathematica for teaching and research purposes to all UW faculty, staff, and students. Mathematica is installed on all UW Student lab computers on campus and available through the remote lab.

The site license allows for unlimited installations for class and research purposes on UW owned computers and for use on personal computers of students, faculty and staff. For more information about Mathematica, how to install it, and how to use it, please see the UW Mathematica website (www.uwyo.edu/infotech/mathematica/).

 

Windows Operating Systems Update

Windows XP Phase Out Continues

As Windows XP is over 10 years old, Microsoft will soon no longer be releasing updates and security fixes nor distributing antivirus to XP computers. As a result IT has been moving UW users to Windows 7. IT will end support of Windows XP this September.

IT advises users to move from XP to Windows 7 as soon as possible. Windows 7 has numerous advantages, including:

  1. New powerful "Search" capabilities, which can substantially improve productivity.
  2. Utilizes memory (RAM) better than Windows XP, meaning Windows 7 will better perform on your existing computer hardware.
  3. Enhanced security and customizable firewall.
  4. If your hardware is 64-bit capable, Windows 7 64-bit can enhance performance even further.

Windows 7 is free for any UW owned computers and IT user consultants are available to assist departments with this conversion. If you have questions about how to move to Windows 7, please contact your user consultant, the IT Help Desk at 766-HELP (4357), option 1, or userhelp@uwyo.edu.

Customers who have computers that are too old to run Windows 7 are advised to budget for and purchase a new computer by September. IT will have a limited number of 3-year old used computers that are able to run the Windows 7 operating system and available to departments at a reduced cost. IT is working to identify computers that are too old to run Windows 7 and will be providing additional information on the availability of the 3-year old computers to specific users and/or departments in late May.

Windows 8 Released – Not Ready for UW

Windows 8 was released October 2012. There are still several programs that are not supported by Windows 8, so Information Technology recommends not yet upgrading to Windows 8. IT will provide further announcements when Windows 8 is more fully supported. For more information on IT’s evaluation of Windows 8, please see our Windows 8 Enterprise at UW website (www.uwyo.edu/software/uw/win8/).

Office 2013

The latest version of the Microsoft productivity software, Office 2013, was released earlier this year. Information Technology is currently testing Office 2013 to determine how it will operate on the university system and with administrative applications. The University Student computer lab system will continue to run Office 2010 through at least the Fall 2013 semester. Additional information regarding compatibility and support of Office 2013 at UW will be provided later this summer.

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IT Survey – Seeking to Improve Service

IT is still accepting feedback from faculty, staff, and students through the annual IT Survey. The survey for faculty and staff can be accessed online (www.uwyo.edu/itsurveys/2013/employee/). The feedback gathered by this survey helps IT understand the needs on campus and improve services accordingly. If you would like to provide feedback, the survey will be available until May 10th.

In the 2012 IT survey, there were 1,236 students who responded and 777 faculty and staff.

The results of the 2012 survey (www.uwyo.edu/itsurveys/2012/) indicate the continuing trend toward wireless computing on campus. Students, faculty and staff continue to replace cell phones with smartphones or other mobile computing devices. This is the first year that more students have reported having a smartphone or mobile computing device than have reported having a cell phone. With the increase in mobile computing devices, the number of students, faculty, and staff connecting to the wireless network continues to grow and “more wireless” continues to be an IT service that students, faculty, and staff want. IT continues to expand wireless as funding becomes available.

wireless trends graph

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Microsoft Updates

On the third Tuesday of every month any available Microsoft Updates will be automatically distributed to computers across campus. You will know that there are updates to install on your computer when you see the update icon, below, at the bottom left corner of your screen. You can install the updates using these instructions (www.uwyo.edu/askit/5001/).

system tray

If updates have not been installed by the second Tuesday of the following month your computer will automatically install them and may automatically restart. The next dates for the automatic installation of updates and possible restarts are listed below. Any open work could be lost if your computer automatically restarts. IT will no longer be sending out monthly reminders about these updates.

•  May 14th
•  June 11th
•  July 9th •  August 13th

If you have questions about Microsoft updates, please check the WSUS FAQ (www.uwyo.edu/askit/487/) or contact the IT Help Desk at 766-HELP.

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