Thursday, July 28, 2016

Jay Shah named Director of Velocity

Incoming Velocity Director Jay Shah.

The University of Waterloo is appointing Jay Shah, a former startup co-founder and Waterloo alumnus, as director of its flagship entrepreneurship program, Velocity. Shah joins Velocity from Google where the entrepreneur has worked since the tech-giant acquired the company he co-founded in 2012.

“Jay Shah has been in the startup trenches, and knows what it takes to build a successful company,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur. “With his background at Waterloo, in a startup and at Google, Jay Shah is uniquely positioned to guide the next wave of world-changing entrepreneurs emerging from the University of Waterloo.”

BufferBox, founded by Shah alongside Aditya Bali and Mike McCauley, began as a fourth year Engineering Capstone Design project to create lockers for parcel delivery. The company would go on to work out of the University’s Accelerator Centre, before moving in to the Velocity Garage, winning the Velocity Fund Finals and attending Y Combinator, before ultimately being acquired by Google.

Shah’s arrival comes amidst major growth for the Velocity program. In the last year Velocity has:

  • expanded its facilities to become the largest free startup incubator in the world;
  • opened an on-campus science lab to develop world-class science startups; and,
  • created a bustling entrepreneurship discovery space for students, hosting workshops, startup coaching, and a makerspace.

“The calibre of talent at the University of Waterloo, specifically its professors and new graduates, is a competitive advantage for companies in Waterloo,” said Shah. “They are the product of incredible academic faculties, a culture of supporting risk-taking, and the best co-op experiential learning system in the world.”

Shah will start work in September with a vision to spread innovation and entrepreneurship even further across campus.

It’s raining phish: spear phishing attacks hit campus

A screenshot of a suspicious email.

A message from Information Systems and Technology (IST).

You may have seen some of the past warnings that IST has published about phishing attacks on campus i.e. email trying to trick you into giving up personal information.

This year, we have seen an increase in the number of similar attacks hitting campus email inboxes. The new attack is more personalized for the UW environment and are called "spear phishing" because of the directed approach they take, compared to ordinary phishing attacks.

Features of a spear phishing message

There are several key features that are the hallmarks of a spear phishing attempt.

The sender is more plausible

  • Many phishing attacks appear to come from someone claiming to be from a Nigerian oil company or similar organization offering money. That is likely a business that UW would not normally work with. 
  • In a spear phishing attack, the forged email is crafted to be more plausible.  It might appear to come from another university, for example. 
  • Check the sending and return address to see whether the addresses are legitimate. Even if forged, there might be discrepancies in the addresses that will help you identify malicious email.

The email is relevant

  • The sender will talk about upgrades to local software, or an unpaid invoice that the University should deal with, rather than asking for help with a money transfer.

The graphics are familiar

  • In the email or related web pages, graphics from software used at UW or actual UW logos will be included.

The links in the message may mention UW in the URL

  • Instead of a completely generic URL, the fraudster uses a domain they have control of so words like “uwaterloo” or “uw” are included in the URL.

Example of a campus spear phishing attempt

Visit to see an example of a recent spear phishing attempt received by University of Waterloo staff, crafted to look like it was from the IST Service Desk. Spear phishing components and other concerns have been highlighted and explained.

Defend yourself from spear phishing

  • Always check the URL of a link before clicking on it. Don't click if the URL isn't at, or if the URL is unusual or difficult to read.
  • If the email claims a software or other upgrade is being done university-wide, verify it by checking with your IT Computing Rep or the IST Service Desk.
  • If the email is about something that has nothing to do with your job (like dealing with invoices) ignore it.
  • Don't open attachments if the message is from an unknown sender, or if the attachment is irrelevant to your job.
  • If the email looks suspicious, verify its legitimacy by phoning or discussing it in person with the sender listed in the email header.
  • Report suspicious email messages to IST.

Dig it: Hagey pathway at north entrance excavated

Plant Operations' Grounds Section is excavating the Hagey Boulevard pathway adjacent to N Lot between Columbia Street and Ring Road, beginning today, with work continuing tomorrow.

Paving of the path will take place on Thursday, August 4.

Link of the day

World Hepatitis Day

When and where

SHAD public open house, Thursday, July 28, 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Great Hall, Conrad Grebel University College.

WIN and Dept of Applied Math Joint Seminar featuring Professor Duncan J. Mowbray "The Role of Mathematical Modeling and Computer Simulation in Nanotechnology", Thursday, July 28, 3:30 p.m., QNC 1501.

GreenHouse Social Impact ShowcaseThursday, July 28, 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Alumni Hall, St. Paul's University College.

WIN Seminar featuring Professor Naoki Sugimoto, Frontier Institute for Biomolecular Engineering Research (FIBER), Graduate School of Frontiers of Innovative Research in Science and Technology (FIRST), Konan University, Kobe, Japan, "Stability and Function of Nucleic Acids with Non-canonical Structures", Friday, July 29, 11:00 a.m., QNC 1501.

August Civic Holiday, Monday, August 1, most University operations closed.

On-campus examinations begin, Tuesday, August 2.

The Writing Centre presents Grammar Studio Series, "Nuts and bolts: Basic grammar and sentence structure," Tuesday, August 2, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Stargazing Party and Lecture: Distant Planets and the Search for Life Beyond Our Solar System, Tuesday, August 2, 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., OPT 347 and Columbia Fields 3, 4.

The Writing Centre presents Grammar Studio Series, "Putting it together: Advanced grammar and sentence structure," Thursday, August 4, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

WISE Public Lecture Series featuring Madjid Soltani, “Natural Ventilation of Buildings Using a New Design of Wind-Catcher to Decrease Energy Consumption in Windy Regions,” Thursday, August 4, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., CPH 4333.

Online class examination days, Friday, August 5 and Saturday, August 6.

Quantum Cryptography School for Young Students (QCSYS), Friday, August 5 to Friday, August 12, QNC 0101.

Conrad Grebel Peace Camp, Monday, August 8 to Friday, August 12, Conrad Grebel University College.

School of Phamacy Research Seminar: Targeted mass spectrometric methods for the identification of asthma biomarkers, Monday, August 8, 10:30 a.m., Pharmacy 2009.

The Writing Centre presents Grammar Studio Series, "Connecting the dots: Structure and Organization," Tuesday, August 9, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

The Writing Centre presents Grammar Studio Series, Making it shine: Conciseness and revision strategies," Thursday, August 11, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

On-campus examinations end, Saturday, August 13.

Co-operative Work Term ends, Friday, August 26.

PhD oral defences

Civil & Environmental Engineering. Lalita Thakali, "Nonparametric Methods for Road Safety Analysis." Supervisors, Liping Fu, Tao Chen. On deposit in the Engineering graduate office, DWE 3520C. Oral defence Friday, July 29, 1:30 p.m., D2 2350.

Electrical & Computer Engineering. Asmaa Abdallah, "Security and Privacy in Smart Grid." Supervisor, Sherman Shen. On deposit in the Engineering graduate office, DWE 3520C. Oral defence Tuesday, August 2, 10:00 a.m., EIT 3142.

Electrical & Computer Engineering. Seyyed Bajestani, "Graphene Based NanoPhotonic Structures." Supervisor, Safieddin Safavi-Naeini. On deposit in the Engineering graduate office, DWE 3520C. Oral defence Tuesday, August 2, 1:30 p.m., E5 4106-4128.

Kinesiology. Kristin Marks, "Characterization of the Effect of Menstrual Cycle, Estradiol and Fads2 Transcript Variants on Fatty Acid Composition and Enzyme Expression." Supervisors, Robin Duncan, Ken Stark. On display in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, BMH 3110. Oral defence Wednesday, August 3, 10:00 a.m., BMH 3119.