Network security: a concern on campuses

By Paul Williams
February 28, 2002

photo by Jen Smith

Is your computer safe from hackers through the network at Cabrini? The information technology and resources department has taken precautions and fixed problems regarding the network and its security. The ITR department, unlike some other universities and colleges, cannot see your e-mail or the Internet pages that you access. The ITR department at Cabrini does not have the capability to accomplish this. However, Drexel University, who is Cabrini’s ITR partner, can view them if their current policy changes. Drexel’s current policy forbids them from viewing any email or web pages accessed from the campus of Cabrini College.

Network security is based on a program that protects outside forces, like hackers, from entering a private domain. According to John McIntyre, director of the ITR department, “There is a firewall that is a configuration from Cisco located at Drexel. This not only protects Cabrini from hackers but monitors when a hacker tries to hack into the system.”

Cabrini has had problems with Internet hackers before. The most notable of hackers was an ex-employee of the school. According to McIntyre, “An employee was asked to leave last February. The employee had created a direct link from the Cabrini homepage to a pornographic site. The employee was dismissed, and we (ITR department) have taken more precautions to prevent this from happening again.”

The ITR department will be doing more to maintain privacy. “On the ITR website there will be a personal directory, ensuring that the personal accounts of Cabrini students will only be accessed by the person using a password,” McIntyre said. “The only piece of information that the ITR department would be able to view is anything that is saved onto a server.”

Megan Reich, a freshman business administration major, feels safe using the computers on campus. “I use the computers on campus all the time, and I only had one problem in the beginning of the year in my dorm. It’s great when you are in between classes and need to check your email on the Internet.”

Pat Kelly, a sophomore English and communications major, disagrees with Reich. “In the communication and newsroom computer labs it is hard to check your mail if you have America Online. Only some of the computers will actually go to the sign on screen and let you sign in. Sometimes I will leave not being sure if I am completely signed off.”

Kelly Lohr, a sophomore secondary education major, had a similar experience in the Library. “I couldn’t be completely sure if I was signed out, so I started to check by going to again. I worry about someone else accessing my email, especially if it was because they went to after me.

The problems that face Cabrini students are small compared to the problems facing students at other colleges and universities. Because of inappropriate behavior in email, many educational institutions have issued acceptable-use policies. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education issued in Sept. 17, 1999, “A.U.P.’s define what behaviors are inappropriate or appropriate for users of campus networks and computers.” These institutions provide these policies in handbooks and on the Internet.

Institutions like Cornell University, Salisbury State University and Harvey Mudd College all have computer-use policies that restrict a person’s Internet and email practice. The ITR and computer departments of these schools will exercise their right to access the email and Internet pages that are accessed on a campus. Most of the rules are broad, but they all contain some of the same aspects. Sending viruses, spam email, or mass email is prohibited according to these policies. Also prohibited under the computer-use policies are Internet pages that have information about how to perform or cause harm to someone. According to The Chronicle of Higher issued March 19, 1999, a professor at Clark College can no longer send emails using a computer on campus, because he did not follow the acceptable-use policies regarding email.

Finally, there is one way for a network to keep their system safe. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education on Jan. 21, 2000, Randy C. Marchany, a security expert at Virginia Tech, said. “Every computer in the network should be updated with the latest virus protection system. There should be a broad acceptable-use policies for using a computer on the network.”

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Paul Williams

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