Computing changes strengthen security
By Stephanie Mc Feeters, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Thursday, September 13, 2012
Computing Services has implemented a number of changes intended to streamline the way students access online services, connect to the Internet, store data and communicate with each other, according to Director of Academic and Campus Technology Services William Garrity.
Students must now use a single username, in the form of their “NetID,” and password for all of the College’s online services, Garrity said. The change addresses the potential problem of students with the same name who would have employed identical usernames in the old system, he said.
Computing Services also increased students’ security by crafting a new password model and a series of personal security questions, Garrity said. The technology is similar to that of online banks and allows students to change their passwords themselves rather than with the help of the Computing Services help desk, he said.
Students have been instructed to change their passwords and answer the security questions by Nov. 6, according to a campus-wide email from Garrity.
Changes to the College’s wireless networks have simplified the process by which students configure their computers’ connection to the Dartmouth Secure network, an issue that has been a priority for a number of years, he said. Students previously had difficulty connecting to Dartmouth Secure because the old configuration required them to manually look up certain certificates, but the new program automatically discerns the model of the device and configures it accordingly.
The department recommends that students and faculty use the Dartmouth Secure network rather than Dartmouth Public because it is faster and more secure, Garrity said. In an attempt to prevent students from using Dartmouth Public — which computers on campus do by default — Computing Services introduced a new pop-up feature that requires Dartmouth Public users to click a button before connecting, he said.
Dartmouth Secure has 10 times the bandwidth of Dartmouth Public, according to Associate Director of Administrative Computing Susan Zaslaw.
Lync, a component of the new Microsoft email system, was released to students this summer, Zaslaw said. The communication tool offers instant messaging, desktop sharing and voice and video chat, she said.
“It’s a collaboration and communication tool very much like Skype but integrated with the Dartmouth directory,” she said.
Due to Lync’s similarity to other communication platforms, students have been reluctant to download the program, according to help desk employee Ben Jenkins ’14.
“Lync has potential and a lot of functionality, it just hasn’t caught on yet,” he said.
In July, the College began providing students, faculty and staff with virtual storage space on a server owned and maintained by Dartmouth, according to Zaslaw. The initiative allows students to store up to 10 gigabytes of information in personal DartFiles accounts, she said. MyFiles is an equivalent system for faculty and staff, while OurFiles is the version that allows College departments to store information collectively, she said.
The data stored on the server can be accessed from different machines and is routinely backed up, according to Zaslaw.
“It’s a way to improve the protection of the information that students, faculty and staff are generating during the course of their Dartmouth interactions,” she said.
The department has also been making an effort to accommodate students’ high use of mobile devices, Garrity said. The new wireless configuration process should make it easier for students to connect to Dartmouth Secure on their phones, and a mobile Blackboard application is now available for students to download.
“You can have largely the same Blackboard experience as you would on your laptop,” he said.
The new Blackboard application offers students the option of accessing their class information at any time without the need for a computer, help desk employee Mason Cole ’13 said.
Additionally, a system for printing via GreenPrint from a mobile device should be completed by the end of the month, Garrity said.
The new Dartmouth Secure configuration process has reduced students’ need to visit the help desk, according to Jenkins.
“Our lines have been shorter than they usually are in the fall,” he said.