Students face well-intentioned hurdles to Internet access

The University’s new computer requirements for connecting to the Internet have left some students confused and annoyed, as they are busy constantly updating their systems.

Starting this semester, students using an Internet connection in a residence hall are required to have Windows automatic updates turned on, Symantec antivirus software installed and Cisco Clean Access downloaded before accessing the Internet. New requirements force students to login to the Clean Access system, which monitors a computer for updates every time the computer is turned on or rebooted.

“I don’t know why it’s so difficult to allow students to have Internet access,” said senior Eric Gutierrez, who complained that using the new program is a hassle.

In the past, students were required to download minimal software before gaining Internet access in their dorm rooms, but University officials said this was a liability for the entire school’s network.

“The main purposes of the new security requirements are to keep student machines up and running by protecting them proactively through anti-virus software and Windows updates,” said Alexa Kim, executive director of Information Systems and Services Technology Services.

Kim explained that these measures are taken to prevent viruses, worms and hackers from causing loss of data on students’ computers.

Based on the severity of the infection, it could take Student Technology Services staff days or even weeks to clean a student’s computer after it has been subject to a hack or virus, leaving that student without his or her computer for the duration of the clean-up, Kim added.

Junior Maria Ferrara had viruses on her computer both freshman and sophomore year and was left without her computer on both occasions. She said she is willing to take some time to log in to her computer each day.

“I haven’t had the new software long enough to see if it really prevents viruses, but if it works, it’s worth it,” Ferrara said.

Freshman Clara Davis said she was unaware that any changes had been made in terms of computer system requirements, but found the virus protection updates excessive.

“I had to perform 25 updates before I was able to access the Internet,” Davis said.

In addition to constant updates, students have also complained about Cisco Clean Access, which requires students to constantly log on to the network.

“Cisco disconnects me from the Internet at least once a day, and it’s annoying,” said senior Alex Cleveland.

But some University officials said the program is essential to protect clean computers on the network from infected ones.

“The main goal of clean access is to protect students from others that have infected computers,” said David Swartz, vice president and chief information officer for Information Systems and Services, in an e-mail.

“It’s an added security feature,” said Louis Katz, executive vice president and treasurer. “Our goal is for students not to have problems.”

Katz said the University is asking students to make a small sacrifice by logging into the network every time they turn on their computer.

Katz said, “It’s a constant balance between the additional security measures that protect everybody’s computer and the network, and minor additional steps users make.”

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