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2020

July

Accelerating research into our towns, cities and communities

aaf aurin promo image

AURIN (Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network) provides support to Australian researchers, planners, and policy makers to inform evidence-based decision making. The eresearch facility enables critical decision making for Australia’s future growth, sustainability and urban planning. AURIN provides a range of online tools and services to support spatio-statistical analysis and data visualisation. Known as Australia’s single largest centralised online resource of clean, integrated, spatially enabled, research-ready data – AURIN enables users to transform data into valuable insights.

AURIN continues to support research platforms such as The Regional Innovation Data Lab (RIDL) to strengthen capacity and broaden the capability of Australian researchers. This research builds thriving communities and fast-tracks innovative solutions by providing policy makers, practitioners and researchers with data to solve real world social planning problems and address long-standing urban and regional challenges. Facilitated by AAF’s seamless login, RIDL accesses baseline data from AURIN to build dashboards like Redlands Service Mapping and exploring the food environments in South East Queensland.

Without AAF’s single sign-on capability, social planning collaborations between academics, policy makers and industry professionals are made considerably more difficult due to access barriers. By connecting the AAF, AURIN and RIDL users from all backgrounds can seamlessly access data and analysis tools to help accelerate research into our towns, cities and communities.

The AAF is Australia’s identity federation and part of a global network of over 74 federations around the world. AAF provides federated identity services that are used by every university in Australia and CSIRO. It is globally recognised as a world leader in enabling researchers to securely access Australia’s National Research Infrastructure as well as global research infrastructure and collaborations.

“A primary consideration for AURIN is FAIR data access in a safe and secure manner for its research community. This requires high-quality trusted security solutions to be in place”, said Professor Stuart Barr, AURIN Director. By leveraging the AAF to provide researchers across Australia with authenticated access to these data resources and tools, users can find the ‘right answer’ to Australia’s social planning problems.

Email enquiries@aaf.edu.au to find out how the AAF can help reduce access barriers for your research and organisation, to help maximise your research capability.

June

Last week’s PM announcement of major cyber-attack on Australian government and businesses

25 June 2020

Prime Minister, Scott Morrison held a press conference last week reporting a major cyber-attack on Australian governments and businesses. The Australian Access Federation (AAF) is not aware of any attacks on our infrastructure. We are closely monitoring our systems to ensure that we can react promptly if necessary. The security of all AAF subscribers is vital to the operation of the Federation.

The AAF systems are constantly monitored to detect malicious traffic in real-time using a number of techniques and analysis tools. The AAF also has access to a DDoS Response Team (DRT), who can be engaged quickly to respond to a DDoS attack. These security measures are applied to all AAF core services including Rapid Identity Provider (IdP), AAF Discovery and Federation Management Tooling.

The AAF continues to work under the advice of the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), to ensure business continuity plans can be implemented promptly should a cyber-attack occur. Read the security advisory from the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

Contact AAF Support support@aaf.edu.au if you have any questions.

May

We are in this together

This is a strange time we all find ourselves in, and very different to how we imagined 2020 would unfold when we rang in the new year. Here at AAF’s virtual head office, we are working to ensure that everything is business as usual for all our subscribers.

AAF plays an important role in enabling access and connectivity for your organisation’s research, and learning and teaching activities. During this challenging time, our priority is to help you support your researchers, staff and students.

Taking Australian research global

We are here to help your researchers connect to fight COVID-19. At a time when researchers and scientists are rapidly forming critical collaborations in response to COVID-19, it is vital that Australian researchers can access data, connect and participate in research projects as quickly and easily as possible.

AAF can help you gain access to global research services by connecting to eduGAIN. The AAF plays an important role in facilitating trusted electronic communications and collaboration between education and research institutions, both locally and internationally.
By connecting to eduGAIN, we offer our subscribers access to services from more than 68 federations around the world.
How can you help? The international science community has asked universities and research facilities to help make it easier for researchers, scientists and staff to join a collaboration project by:

How will eduGAIN benefit my users? eduGAIN is an international service which connects federations by:

By contacting us at support@aaf.edu.au we can assist you with adopting the entity category and connecting Identity Providers (IdP) and Service Providers (SP) to eduGAIN.

For more information visit:

Please reach out to us if you have any access, connection or collaboration questions.

March

Our commitment to you during COVID-19

Given the announcement of COVID-19 as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation and the virus’ impact on our global research and education communities, we would like to inform you of the actions AAF has taken to ensure our business can continue to support your teaching, learning and research needs. Despite the uncertainty of COVID-19, we intend to continue to deliver the same quality of technical and customer service to you. The following measures are now in place to ensure continuity of our service.

Availability of our Teams

The AAF is a dynamic team with the capability for employees to work remotely while supporting our customers. As the AAF is a national organisation all AAF employees are equipped to seamlessly and securely connect, while working remotely at any time. We feel confident in our ability to continue to support your identity, access and authentication needs, regardless of our physical work locations.

Availability of our Technology

The AAF Technology is architected to be highly available, automated and monitored daily to ensure we meet the needs of our subscribers and respond to any issues in a timely and efficient manner.

Rapid Identity Provider - AAF Cloud Service

Subscribers using the AAF’s cloud-based Identity Provider (IdP) service called Rapid IdP will receive continued support during this period.

For subscribers not yet using Rapid IdP, the service can eliminate single points of failure for connecting to the federation. Rapid IdP is supported by Shibboleth experts who configure and secure the IdP on your behalf. AAF manage all aspects of the deployment and configuration for you, so the server is always at the latest appropriate version. Rapid IdP is in a high availability and fully backed up configuration that undergoes annual penetration testing, including an assessment of common vulnerabilities. Should you need further information please contact enquiries@aaf.edu.au

ORCID

Working with ORCID ORCID have advised us that they are continuing to operate out of their virtual offices on every continent and as such they are well positioned to serve the community during this time. Researchers will continue to access the Registry as normal, member integrations will continue to work as normal, and the ORCID support desk will remain in operation as normal.

For more information visit the ORCID blog.

Support

The AAF Support Team will continue to be your first point of contact during this time. The Support Team is available during business hours (Monday-Friday 8am – 4pm AEST exclusive Queensland public holidays) and is a single point of contact for getting in touch with the AAF Team. If you are experiencing issues, need assistance with any of our services and tools, or need support within your environments, please contact AAF Support.

Furthermore, if you require any urgent assistance with trust and identity in general as a result of the outbreak, AAF staff are readily available for consultation.

We are grateful for your continued support during this difficult time and are committed to ensuring your use of the AAF and its services continues to operate seamlessly.

2019

Rapid Identity Provider

Macquarie University successfully moves to Rapid IdP the federated cloud solution

Macquarie University, one of Australia’s leading research universities recently connected to Australian Access Federation’s (AAF) cloud solution, Rapid Identity Provider (Rapid IdP).

After initial consultations with the AAF, it was evident that Rapid IdP could work alongside their enterprise Identity Management solution and would successfully help Macquarie achieve their business objectives.

Rapid IdP delivers high levels of security, ongoing support and eduGAIN connectivity, highlighting a few of the reasons Macquarie chose to proceed with the cloud solution, claims Grant Sayer, Director of Infrastructure and Applications. For universities that are planning proactive ‘cloud first’ strategies, Rapid IdP provides a highly available and cost-effective solution for connecting to the AAF. Subsequently, Rapid IdP helped Macquarie finally decommission on-premise legacy systems that were consuming time and resources.

For Macquarie, Rapid IdP positively changed the way the organisation operates. Sayer claims, with Rapid IdP “applications system admins can now spend more time on other business value initiatives.”

If you would like to experience the benefits of Rapid IdP and move your organisation to the cloud, contact the AAF today.

Australian Services

National researchers collaborate to model effects of climate change on biodiversity

The Biodiversity Climate Change Virtual Lab (BCCVL) is one of the most accessed services via the Australian Access Federation (AAF), the national provider for federated single sign-on. BCCVL’s almost 4000 registered users originate from around the world, including Australian universities, research organisations and government agencies.

The high user demand for a cloud modelling platform that provides biodiversity and climate change modelling, demonstrates the success of the BCCVL as a national research service and the importance the AAF plays in providing access.

Prof. Brendan Mackey, Director of the BCCVL at Griffith University states that the BCCVL provides a “cutting edge cloud platform with a wide array of pre-modelling and post-modelling analytical tools”. Originally developed and supported by Griffith University, James Cook University, Macquarie University, University of New South Wales, University of Canberra and other national research infrastructure, the BCCVL has progressed beyond the academic domain into real world applications.

A pilot project in partnership with the Queensland, New South Wales and Federal Government environmental departments is currently underway to generate state-of-the-science protocols, tools and data for modelling Australia’s threatened species. Outputs from this project will be world leading and assist with global research collaboration.

Enabled by the AAF, researchers from Australian universities and research organisations can perform data analysis and modelling using the BCCVL with their organisational log in details. The federation, “facilitates the use and uptake of the system and people’s access to it” said Prof. Mackey. The BCCVL has proven to be a vital service for advancing environmental research and is working towards being self-sustaining. AAF will continue to support and work with services like the BCCVL to advance Australian research.

AAF Turns 10

Past, present and future of the Australian Access Federation

With nearly 18 years’ experience in the research and education sector, Paul Sherlock offers a unique perspective on the development of the eResearch landscape in Australia. Current CIO at the University of South Australia, former CAUDIT president and National Research Network project director, and long-standing member of the Australian Access Federation (AAF) Board, Sherlock has witnessed first-hand the emergence and evolution of identity federations both nationally and globally.

Reflecting on the last 10 years and the Australian eResearch environment, Sherlock said, “initially there wasn’t a common understanding of the term eResearch so almost every time you used that word you had to explain what you were referring to”. 10 years on, we have come a very long way and the eResearch Australasian conference, which is an important annual event for the research infrastructure community, draws more than 400 attendees from around the world.

Sherlock says AAF’s critical role is simply to, “link researchers quickly and easily to the services they need, to get their research done.” Kickstarting the AAF in 2009 and successfully developing it into a fully functioning and subscriber funded federation was a collaborative endeavor driven initially by the CIO community.

After a decade of hard work and dedication, the AAF continues to innovate to meet changing needs of its subscribers with enthusiasm and energy. Sherlock foresees that within another 10 years, the AAF will be, “widely recognised as the best access federation in the world.” With the continued support of Australia’s eResearch sector, the AAF is striving to make this vision a reality.