Studying Skilled Users

By Larry Dignan  |  Posted 2004-09-01 Print this article Print

As a new school year starts, university I.T. administrators must learn how to counter threats to their networks from increasingly computer-savvy students.


Watch Your Class
See what devices they use. Ask what they're being used for. Evaluate.

Monitor Behavior
Track connections by Internet Protocol address. Watch usage, in progress.

Set Expectations
Let them know that monitoring is legal and possible. Establish penalties for unauthorized use of the network.

Encourage Involvement
The best security comes from getting intelligent input from affected users.


Here's a look at how universities are coping with technologies that can hamper academic or network performance, if used improperly.

Bandwidth:Northeastern University uses "traffic shapers" to prevent hogging. This software designates bandwidth for certain activities. Although Northeastern can't monitor content, it can designate certain activities, such as downloading a research paper, as more favorable than downloading a movie. For instance, no more than 5 percent of bandwidth can be used at any one time to connect to file sharing services such as Kazaa.


PDAs in the classroom: Universities across the board have punted on the use of communications tools that could be used for cheating. The "technical" answer: leave it up to professors to decide whether PDAs are permitted in their classrooms.


Wireless networking:A few colleges such as Cleveland State University offer access almost anywhere on campus, through the air. Others are just beginning to test wireless service.


Viruses:Dramatic increase in protective activities, on servers and individual computers. Student welcome kits even include CDs that include ready-to-install antivirus software. The coming academic year will show whether these efforts pay off.

Grade: Incomplete.

Business Editor
Larry formerly served as the East Coast news editor and Finance Editor at CNET News.com. Prior to that, he was editor of Ziff Davis Inter@ctive Investor, which was, according to Barron's, a Top-10 financial site in the late 1990s. Larry has covered the technology and financial services industry since 1995, publishing articles in WallStreetWeek.com, Inter@ctive Week, The New York Times, and Financial Planning magazine. He's a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.

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