Post-outage King's College London orders staff to never make their own backups

Trust us. It's not like we had a fortnight-long... um. Trust us


Exclusive Despite losing a lot of user data from shared folders in October's mega-outage, King's College London is asking staff not to save work independently of the university's IT facilities.

A month ago, departments across the university suffered "irretrievable data loss" when a 3PAR's one-fault-tolerant RAID Array kicked the bucket. Almost every system at the university, from payroll to shared drive access, went down in the TITSUP — total inability to support usual performance.

A week later the issue was still interrupting business, and continued to do so a fortnight post-borkage.

"There will be lessons to be learnt from this incident," was the refrain of an apologetic CIO, Nick Leake, whose emails to staff were seen by The Register.

Unfortunately, those lessons don't seem to have extended to the value of independent backups, which have saved an awful lot of expensive research from being written off, because they are being prohibited by institution.

Another email on Monday, also seen by The Register, implored staff to "not save work independently on personal devices, or any other purchased storage services" warning that they may not have suitable backups in place, or could be a risk to the security of information.

One staffer at KCL complained to us about the condescending attitude of Dr Ian Tebbett, senior veep of operations, and noted the lack of technical information regarding the university's new backup system, which considering recent events could only provoke further mistrust.

Responding to The Register's enquiries, a KCL spokesperson said:

Virtually all our systems have been restored following the recent IT outage. As the shared drives have been made available to users, we have been working with them to identify any issues and this process is ongoing. The shared drives have been installed on new infrastructure and their backup is on new technology. We are encouraging users to save data according to normal King's practice.

Tebbett's email reiterated to staff that an "independent external review" will be conducted of the incident once staff have "the full picture" regarding recovery of the final shared drives.

"This will include a thorough review of the causes of the outage and the full implications and business impact across the university," Tebbet wrote. "I envisage this taking six to eight weeks from its start. We will share the recommendations and our response to them once the investigation is complete." ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Apple strays from the path of locking down parts with its Series 7 Watch

    Component swaps still a thing... for now

    Apple's seventh-gen Watch has managed to maintain its iFixit repairability rating on a par with the last model – unlike its smartphone sibling.

    The iFixit team found the slightly larger display of the latest Apple Watch a boon for removal via heat and a suction handle. Where the previous generation required a pair of flex folds in its display, the new version turned out to be simpler, with just the one flex.

    Things are also slightly different within the watch itself. Apple's diagnostic port has gone and the battery is larger. That equates to a slight increase in power (1.094Wh from 1.024Wh between 40mm S6 and 41mm S7) which, when paired with the slightly hungrier display, means battery life is pretty much unchanged.

    Continue reading
  • Better late than never: Microsoft rolls out a public preview of E2EE in Teams calls

    Only for one-to-one voice and video, mind

    Microsoft has finally kicked off the rollout of end-to-end-encryption (E2EE) in its Teams collaboration platform with a public preview of E2EE for one-to-one calls.

    It has been a while coming. The company made the promise of E2EE for some one-to-one Teams calls at its virtual Ignite shindig in March this year (https://www.theregister.com/2021/03/03/microsoft_ups_security/) and as 2021 nears its end appears to have delivered, in preview form at least.

    The company's rival in the conference calling space, Zoom, added E2EE for all a year ago, making Microsoft rather late to the privacy party. COO at Matrix-based communications and collaboration app Element, Amandine Le Pape, told The Register that the preview, although welcome, was "long overdue."

    Continue reading
  • Recycled Cobalt Strike key pairs show many crooks are using same cloned installation

    Researcher spots RSA tell-tale lurking in plain sight on VirusTotal

    Around 1,500 Cobalt Strike beacons uploaded to VirusTotal were reusing the same RSA keys from a cracked version of the software, according to a security researcher who pored through the malware repository.

    The discovery could make blue teams' lives easier by giving them a clue about whether or not Cobalt Strike traffic across their networks is a real threat or an action by an authorised red team carrying out a penetration test.

    Didier Stevens, the researcher with Belgian infosec firm NVISO who discovered that private Cobalt Strike keys are being widely reused by criminals, told The Register: "While fingerprinting Cobalt Strike servers on the internet, we noticed that some public keys appeared often. The fact that there is a reuse of public keys means that there is a reuse of private keys too: a public key and a private key are linked to each other."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021