VC's Update - Graduations, cyber security and more

13 July 2018

Hi everyone,

Graduation is always a great time at ANU - amid all the gowns and celebrations with family and friends, there is pride, excitement and the prospect of new beginnings. The atmosphere on campus is fantastic - and you can never take too many selfies! I am never prouder of our university than when I see the thousands of people, from all walks of life, accepting their degrees on stage, knowing each of them has the capacity to lead change in our world.

To our new graduates, congratulations! Whatever your next destination, whether you are staying at ANU for further study, heading to a new job or going travelling, you remain part of ANU through our alumni community. Hopefully I will bump in to you at one of the many alumni events we hold every year.

This week our campus has also been recognising and celebrating the extraordinary contribution, culture and history of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. To kick off NAIDOC Week, I hosted an afternoon tea in the Chancelry on Monday where colleagues discussed one of the Core Cultural Learning modules. I enjoyed hearing and sharing reflections about the course, and the University's engagement with Indigenous communities. I encourage every member of the University to explore the incredible richness of the modules and talk to colleagues and friends about what you discover.  

Earlier this week, I was reminded - again! - of the exceptional breadth and quality of ANU research. Colleagues from RSES discovered the world's oldest colours, from a full 1.1 billion years ago, by extracting and crushing to powder ancient rocks discovered in Mauritania, and then isolating and examining trace fossilised compounds from organisms they found. The pink pigments were part of fossilised chlorophyll, and helped explain why no animals existed at the time: because the base of the food chain was dominated by tiny cyanobacteria in the oceans. To make their discoveries, researchers had to find a marker left behind by microscopic bacteria - an incredible challenge, but one our colleagues and their partners rose to.

On a different matter, last Friday I contacted the ANU community about an IT systems infiltration. Based on our analysis, and that of our government partners, we understand that there was no theft of personal or financial data during this incident. We must take steps to protect and enhance the security of the ANU systems, including asking every staff member and student to change their password. If you have not already done so, please change your passwords by 31 July. The best way to do this is to go to the ANU website and type Identity Manager into the search function. The webpage should display 'Identity Manager' at the top of the page. Follow the instructions on the page to change your password, and remember, ANU will never email you a direct link requesting that you change your password. I would like to thank our IT staff for their continued work on resolving this matter and thank you all for your continued patience.

As a tip, I have a password manager now to help me use impossible to memorise (and very difficult to crack) passwords across all the accounts I have across my life (in and out of University). I can change them easily, and it works across my computer, phone, and iPad. It is a new way of doing things, and takes a while to get used to, but it is a lot better than having your accounts compromised, or your data ransomed or stolen.

Finally, I will be hosting an update for all staff on Wednesday 18 July on the University's Strategic Plan, and will be discussing some of the highlights for this year (so far!) and forecasting for the year ahead. Please register your attendance, or to watch the livestream broadcast.

Have a good weekend,