ITS outlines campus technology updates

Jason Howell, Online Editor

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Eastern’s Information Technology Services has outlined technology changes starting in mid-May that will affect passwords, operating systems and the use of certain applications on campus.

Starting May 16, students, annuitants and external users will be required to change their password once a year. Faculty and staff are required to change their password once per semester.

Brian Murphy, assistant vice president for information technology services, said this was not required in the past.

The requirements for passwords include that the password must start with a letter, have both upper and lowercase characters, one number and one character that does not include letters or numbers.

The full policy can be found online.

Murphy said the new operating system requirements, also taking effect on May 16, are based off support from the university’s network access control software, SafeConnect.

Users running Windows Vista and higher, Mac OS X 10.8.5 or newer, or a version of Linux are able to connect to the university’s network.

Users running Windows XP or older, or Mac OS X 10.7 or older, will not be able to use the network; this includes beta versions of operating systems.

While users of an older operating system were previously able to connect to the network, they were not being actively supported.

“We’re supporting all the operating systems that are actively supported by the vendor,” Murphy said. “The operating systems that haven’t been supported by the vendor for a certain period of time are a risk for us.”

If a computer with an out of date operating system is brought onto campus, it will be quarantined by SafeConnect.

Another update is the new use of application blocking, using Sophos Application Control.

The blocking, which will begin May 15 and affect Eastern-owned computers with a property tag, will prevent software from running that reduces computer performance and compromises privacy.

Employees have the ability to install programs on the university computers assigned to them.

The list of blocked programs includes various toolbar products, versions five through nine of Adobe Reader, Microsoft Office 2003, as well as Microsoft Security Essentials and BitTorrent, among others.

The ability to run Microsoft Security Essentials is blocked as it goes against the school’s Microsoft Campus EES agreement and Sophos being the antivirus used on school machines.

BitTorrent is being blocked, as it is an avenue for illegal file-sharing.

An exception can be made to allow access to a particular program if a legitimate business case exists.

“Our goal here is not to make anyone’s life unbearable or difficult,” Murphy said. “It’s to make sure that we have security and we’ve protected EIU from any kind of liability with any of this software, as well as improved performance in hopefully everyone’s daily use of their computing device.”

 

Jason Howell can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]