"This year, in addition to ASU's standard wi-fi coverage, we now offer an encrypted wireless service to all students, faculty and staff," says
As all Sun Devils know, there are two main ASU networks. There is the guest network, which doesn't require any ASU login information, and then there's the regular ASU network, which does require login information. Students may not realize that the regular ASU network is not secure, even though it may be generally assumed.
The guest and the ASU login network are not encrypted or, in other words, a "closed system," which means anyone with the knowledge can monitor and possibly access anyone's computer activities, said
To showcase how easy it is for someone with malicious intentions to access someone else's computer on an unsecured network, Striker often does an in-person demonstration. He uses his iPhone to scan the network he is on, then he locates the device and pings it. If he can ping the device, that means he can access the port number, which shows the network address, as well as where the computer is on the network. After that, all the hard work is done and it's easy to get in to access any file.
Before the launch of the encrypted network, these two networks were the only options. When it launched last spring, there were only about 7,000 students utilizing the network. Now, there are about 16,000 people that use it daily, according to Striker.
Information Technology's goal in their roadmap is to end the guest network or repurpose it into an Intranet. This would mean that people could log into the network, but they could only access a specific site, like ASU's homepage, for example, he said.
But for either option to happen, there needs to be a balanced split: half on the encrypted network, half on the ASU login network.
As of right now, there is a 24 percent adoption rate with a three percent increase every month, which shows promise that by fall 2014, that balance will be achieved, Striker said. Thorensten also expects the rate to grow as the service improves and the word spreads.
As for the future, the University Technology Office has a lot of projects on the horizon that will improve school services while adding protection against cyber-security attacks. Students also have access to free tech studios where they can have all their security questions answered, like how to encrypt a laptop or how to know if there's a virus, Thorensten said.
"We've definitely seen in an increase in people securing their own stuff," says
Weingartner also recommended setting up a password scheme where the most important data should have the most important passwords. Other sites that do not have as much important data to the user can use less complex passwords.
"This ensures that if they catch one of your passwords, they don't catch them all," Weingartner says.
Eventually, encryption will be the new ASU standard that will serve the community greatly and diminish many security concerns that in the past would have been much more worrisome.
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