Residence hall students to receive safer connection; larger area of wireless access will be available

Andrew Hampp

It’s going to be a lot safer to own a computer on campus this fall.

Thanks to changes being made by Information Services, students living on campus will experience better Internet connections, gain more wireless access and, if they’re Microsoft Windows users, have fewer chances of their computers catching a virus.

Bob Hart, manager of Network Services, said he and his team of technicians have been working with Residence Services over the past few months to complete these changes by the fall.

“The goal is to make the whole process of getting online easier and better,” Hart said.

How students log online will improve. Microsoft Windows users will be required to install Cisco Clean Access software after first connecting to the Internet this fall. The software is designed to scan a computer for viruses and spyware more efficiently than previous programs.

“(We want) to try to protect everybody else from someone whose machine is really vulnerable to being affected by a virus,” Hart said.

The new software will enable students to correct virus-related problems without any additional assistance, Hart added. The number of computers in need of virus scanning grew so large last semester that students had to wait days, even weeks, to have their machines returned.

“We want to avoid Residence Services having stacks and stacks of computers to clean,” he said. “I would hate to be a student with a virus on my computer. I couldn’t live without my PC for two weeks.”

Non-Windows users, however, will not be required to install the software. Instead, these users will be asked to log on with their Flashline account when they first connect to the Internet on their residential computers.

A timer system will also be implemented, asking students to log in to their accounts again after 60 minutes of non-activity, Hart said. The login will be similar to that required for wireless access.

Another Information Services project nearing completion is the installation of wireless access on the first floor lounges of all residence halls on campus.

Greg Perkowski, a senior LAN administrator in Residence Services, said this project is nearly complete, with only the front campus residence halls remaining to be wired.

“The overall point is to wire all floors on all residence halls,” Perkowski said. “Because of the amount of work required to do that, it’s going to take a while.”

Additional Internet access ports that will connect to Network Services’ new gigabit Internet backbone are also being installed in residence halls.

The backbone will provide 24/7 network monitoring for all the residence halls, a first for the university. The expanded system is designed to protect students from losing their Internet connections during network outages not just in academic buildings, but in residence halls as well, Hart said.

The new backbone is scheduled to launch Aug. 16, in time for students officially moving into the residence halls starting Aug. 23.

Contact technology reporter Andrew Hampp at [email protected].