Improving the SHCC’s Networked Environment

UF’s Student Health Care Center (SHCC) is open at its new location on Stadium Road. Formerly across from the Hub, the new building west of the O’Connell Center presented an opportunity to refresh networking and telecommunications for the SHCC.
UFIT began work on this project during the pandemic. In collaboration with UF’s Facilities Services and the contractor, staff designed the telecommunications systems and provided direction on integrating the UF Health technical environment into the new building. UFIT and UF Health IT met weekly throughout the project to keep on track and ensure the work underway was as unobtrusive as possible for impacted stakeholders. Accomplishments of this project include the first UFNET3 connection to the campus CORE network.

“Working with UFIT has been a pleasure throughout the process,” wrote Matthew Walser, assistant director for clinical operations at the SHCC. “I came into the project ‘late in the game’ and the UFIT folks helped get me up to speed. The communication and response has been seamless and as the point person for SHCC, I literally haven’t worried about anything regarding the IT side of the project.”

A first for UF is the integration of the campus mass notification system into the building’s fire alarm system. This design eliminated the need to install individual mass notification speakers, saving money for the project. For more details on the new Student Health Care Center, visit

UFIT Conducting Disaster Recovery Test

On Tuesday, Nov. 29, UF Information Technology will test its disaster recovery plan (DRP). The test will begin when UFIT staff physically remove a fiber connection to simulate a fiber cut on the UF Network.

The Nov. 29 DRP test is scheduled to start at 10:00 p.m. The timing of the test was selected to minimize impact to campus activities. Throughout the test, UFIT will have a team actively monitoring processes and address any impacts that arise. We are not expecting adverse effects on university systems and services; however, there may be some discoveries where staff need to adapt existing architecture so we can prepare for any future issues. If staff do need to adapt campus IT architecture, users may experience a decrease in performance or a short gap in availability. All services are expected to resume by 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 30.

UFIT is publicizing the DRP test event in campus communications, email list-servs, and on social media. We will also post an alert before the test and update it, as necessary, during the actual test period.

China Blocking UF’s VPN

In 2016, China announced it would block unregistered VPN services. In 2018, UFIT began receiving reports from faculty working in China that the UF VPN was blocked. 

Using the UF VPN service in tandem with an encrypted laptop provides secure, remote access to the UF Network.  However, registering UF’s VPN to allow its use in China would require the university to provide the Chinese government access to decrypted data and other sensitive information. 

There is nothing UFIT can do to make the UF VPN service work in China without potentially violating Chinese law and putting faculty, students, and staff in legal jeopardy.  UFIT will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as needed.

It is possible that reputable Cloud services like O365 (OneDrive) and UF Dropbox may periodically be available while you are in China.  However, network and Cloud access in China is a fluid situation — what works today may not work tomorrow. UFIT recommends:

  • Travelling with an encrypted laptop. Ideally, the laptop should be specially prepared by IT staff for your trip. This includes erasing all documents, including research and applications such as your UF email client. Just take the specific files (like the PowerPoint presentation to be used) needed. The laptop should then be returned to your IT staff to make sure that no malware or spyware was installed while abroad.
  • Storing files locally on that encrypted laptop because you may not have access to cloud services or the UF VPN while in China. Transfer any work product created upon your return from your travel laptop to your regular UF Network location.
  • Prior to travelling, copy the files you’ll be working on to your O365 (OneDrive) or UF Dropbox location—have a backup set of files stored before you go.

UF’s Information Security Office recommends viewing their Security Tips When Traveling Abroad page prior to leaving the country. If you contact the UF Computing Help Desk while in China, they will tell you that UF VPN blocking is a known issue and there is nothing UF staff can do to remedy the situation.