The Signal

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Thursday June 1st


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IT security manager defends NAC

This letter is in response to The Signal article written last week about the College’s Network Access Control (NAC) system. NAC provides electronic enforcement of computing policies that have been in place for a very long time.

The policies include keeping your computer up-to-date with operating system patches, not using peer-to-peer file sharing applications on the Internet, with the exception of DC++, using appropriate and up-to-date antivirus software and not disrupting the work of others.

By enforcing these policies, Information Technology (IT) hopes to protect the community from malware, hacking, loss of information, identity theft and denial of service for students, an entire dorm or for all of ResNet, to name a few computing security risks.

The NAC system helps IT identify the owner of a computer or device that connects to the College network, and checks for basic security requirements. This information is only stored on campus, and IT plans to purge the information every year. No other personally identifiable information is gathered.

Regarding the question of whether IT communicated to students, communication regarding the NAC included an e-mail message to all students on Aug. 6, which included a link to the IT Security Web page and NAC installation time line, as well as a specific e-mail message about wired and wireless routers on Sept. 14.

Warnings are issued immediately to students who connect using a router, and electronic warnings were generated from the NAC every 12 hours for the seven day period from Sept. 14 through Sept. 21. These messages, notices and the Web site contain links and contact information to the ResNet helpdesk and the College’s helpdesk. This is the avenue for questions or concerns. We are happy to speak with anyone.

The College provides antivirus software free for all members of the College community. A list of allowed antivirus software is available on the IT Security NAC webpage and continues to be posted on the NAC antivirus warning webpage.

Alan Bowen
Manager of IT security

Internet security measures vital to network health

In response to Tim Lee’s Opinion piece last week, the College Information Technology (IT) department’s Computing Access Agreement is nothing new. Before you are allowed to connect any personal computer to the network, you agree to all its terms. These terms include the prohibition of routers, access points and computers without antivirus protection (terms that have been in the Computing Access Agreement since before you were in high school). The Network Access Control (NAC) is a non-invasive way for the IT department to make sure that you aren’t violating any of those terms. It was put in place for the safety and security of the College network — not just your personal computer. The client protects the campus network, as well as everything connected to the network, from computers deemed hazardous to the health of the network. Its exact purpose is explained in the Access Agreement to which you have already agreed to.

The client is small and unobtrusive. It has been tested on Windows, Mac and Linux. Many campuses and organizations use this kind of NAC.

My sister goes to Coastal Carolina Community College, and she requires a Client to be installed on her computer to connect, while Penn State keeps track of each student’s individual bandwidth consumption and cuts off access completely when you exceed quota without warning.

Unless you’re intentionally violating the access agreements, it will not have any effect on your daily computer usage.

Computers with out-of-date operating systems or no antivirus software are serious security threats that compromise the integrity of everything connected to our network, including services such as Zimbra, SOCS and PAWS. It only takes one compromised computer to create a security risk for everyone on campus. Compromised computers affect your fellow classmates, the College’s computer labs and the College’s servers. No one wants to get computer viruses. They happen accidently and computers without protection are the computers that spread the viruses to others. Your “need” to operate a computer without any virus protection has the potential to do serious damage. The College is well within its means to ensure the safety and integrity of every computer and server on the network.

You can get antivirus software from the “Student” section of the IT Web site. Just enter your e-mail credentials and you can download Sophos Anti-Virus, a $200-plus value, for free.

Routers also pose a serious threat to the health of a network, especially those such as Lee’s that broadcast wireless access to everyone within a 300 feet radius of your room. Just because your router doesn’t broadcast its SSID publically, doesn’t mean it somehow magically stops broadcasting anything. It’s wireless — you’re still broadcasting an easy-in Internet connection to anyone who wants it. Additionally, your 128-bit security is sort of the laughing stock of the wireless security world. It’s the reason that TCNJ-Wireless still makes you log-in with your College login even though you know the long password. It’s not your responsibility to modify the campus network to grant wireless Internet to the community.

As I’ve said, the NAC is an unobtrusive way to keep your computer and every computer, lab, and server on campus safe. Compromised computers sending spam e-mails have crippled the residential network. Misconfigured student routers have taken down Internet access to entire buildings. I worked for IT for four years — I’ve seen it. I’m glad to hear that Lee’s computer has not been a victim of any of these problems. However, I would not be so quick to assume that other students have been so fortunate. Lee’s harsh opinion of the NAC is unfortunate and, as I’ve shown, baseless. The “Man” isn’t out to get you. The College is trying to provide a safe and secure network for Lee’s fellow classmates and I hope that he’ll come to realize this.

Christopher Neylan

Editorial ignored Corzine’s education efforts

Like The Signal’s editorial staff, I am disappointed that there will not be a League of Women Voters debate at the College. I am also disappointed that last week’s editorial ignored Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s higher education accomplishments.

Over the past four years, the governor has proven his dedication to public education by acting as an advocate for all students, including those at public colleges and universities.

Many of us struggle to pay for our education, especially in this economy. As our governor, Corzine has worked hard to ensure that no one is held back from getting an education because of his or her financial situation.

Yes, it is true that tuition has increased at the College just as it has at public and private colleges across the country. However, did you know that Corzine placed a three percent cap on tuition increases at New Jersey’s public colleges and universities? This will help ensure that we are not overburdened by tuition increases if they do occur.

Additionally, Corzine has significantly increased funding for Tuition Aid Grants. Since 2006, New Jersey has provided students from low and middle income families with almost $800 million in grants to help pay for college.

If reelected, Corzine will continue to support college students by making higher education more accessible and affordable for everybody.
Republican candidate Chris Christie has said that he would refuse the $5 billion in federal stimulus money intended to help New Jersey through the economic crisis. His rejected stimulus funds include $2 billion for all of New Jersey’s schools and $74 million in federal student aid.

Christie’s stance clearly shows that he is not willing to fight for college students in the way Corzine will.

While Corzine will work with New Jersey’s scarce resources to make college more affordable for everyone, Christie will put partisan politics above the well-being of every student.

Although the candidates will not be attending a debate hosted at the College, I would like to point out that Corzine was nearby at Rider University on Sept. 22.

At the event, he provided an open dialogue with questions from the audience, most of whom were Rider students. Every College student was welcomed to attend and interact with the governor, and a handful did.

I encourage College students to attend the open forum with Democratic Lt. Gov. candidate Loretta Weinberg tonight to learn more about the issues and ask her any questions they may have.


Allison Fitzgerald

Signal editing angers writer

Let’s try this again. In the Sept. 23 issue of The Signal, you semi-published a Letter to the Editor that I wrote regarding the commuter parking situation.

How can you edit to the point of near non-recognition a Letter to the Editor that is appearing in the “Opinions” section of your paper? What gives you the authority to alter my opinions so that they suit your printing needs? I have one more question for you — what happened to freedom of speech? Ever hear of the First Amendment?

I sent in a letter that I thought was witty, with just a hint of biting sarcasm, yet the editors removed all of my witty comments, leaving behind a bland, cut-and-dry letter that I am embarrassed to have my name attached to. If I had known you were going to change my words, and by default change the entire tone of my letter, I would have simply said, “No, thank you.”

Nothing in my letter should have been considered too controversial to publish in the newspaper. After all, I merely made a joke about saying the Rosary to get a parking spot, a real knee-slapping statement according to several students, who I asked to read my original letter.

I find it humorous that a newspaper that publishes a series entitled “Let’s talk about sex” finds the need to remove portions of an article on parking. I didn’t write a sexually charged article, nor did I write a politically biased article (and even if I had, you should publish it anyway courtesy of that grand old First Amendment).

Maybe you can try and publish this without butchering my message and tone — then again, maybe you can’t.

Kristen Casabona


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