Behind the scenes of NCSA—Mission: security | National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois

Behind the scenes of NCSA—Mission: security

04.28.11 -

Though they're not quite as clandestine as an impossible missions force, the work of NCSA's Security Operations team is just as vital and nearly as challenging. This group of network security specialists supports the center by applying the latest cybersecurity advances to protect NCSA's high-performance computing resources. They also maintain the integrity of staff computers and networks.

In close collaboration with other NCSA groups, the security operations team of Brad Sheafe, Jim Barlow, Mike Dopheide, and Tim Brooks focuses on assessing, detecting, and mitigating the risks to networks and computational systems. By applying technology and applications in various areas to strengthen the center's overall security posture, they provide a balance between security and usability. This ensures that the center's mission—operating some of the world's most powerful supercomputers and developing the software infrastructure to efficiently use them—is met. The team helps everyone at the center become more security aware by providing training and education sessions, and they assist staff members and users who are having security-related issues.

"At NCSA, network security is a high priority and our team's efforts are viewed as a good thing," says Jim Barlow, head of security operations and incident response. "And when you have team members who are approachable, are well-liked, and have a sense of humor the way ours do, it makes the cybersecurity job a little easier as people will work with you by following your advice. Most importantly, people let us know when they think something is not right so that we can investigate."

Thanks to the efforts of this team, NCSA users and staff can login with confidence that their data and communications are secure.