New password policy for students

From spring of 2003 until my graduation in May 2006, I wrote many articles for several sections of my college newspaper, the Los Angeles Loyolan. Here's one of my News articles.
New password policy for students

Mark J. Lehman
Managing Editor

Originally Published: Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Information Technology Services (ITS) is implementing a new password policy to NetReg, which will require every student to change their ManeGate passwords one time each semester. NetReg is a network administrative tool that will help ITS locate and solve problems, such as viruses on the LMU network. The policy is one part of a host of advances in network technology and security on the LMU campus.

"It will go into effect later this semester and will recur every semester," said Residential Network (ResNet) Coordinator Nick Thompson. "It's based on standard best practices, because a lot of security breaches are based on weak passwords."

According to Thompson, students will not have to change any other passwords besides their ManeGate one because, "The campus is moving toward a single sign-on with ManeGate on a single directory." This means that PROWL, Blackboard, E-Time and other online resources for students will be accessible through ManeGate, and students will not have to login multiple times to many different programs.

Erin Griffin, assistant vice president for information technology, said, "We wanted to wait to implement the policy until we had an online password change capability, which was implemented in June with the ManeGate portal. We then delayed the password change until this semester so we could do it while faculty, staff and students are nearby, in case any problems are experienced."

There will also be requirements as to password length, type of characters and repetition. Passwords will have to be eight characters and composed of both letters and numbers.

"With a lot of the downloading programs right now-like Kazaa and LimeWire-a lot of computer viruses get through that way," Thompson said. "Students might not be aware that they are actually virus hosts. So now when we see something on the network causing a problem, we can track it down to the machine and link it to that user. That's what we've been able to do with the wireless for awhile, and now we'll be able to do more."

Though Thompson and ITS said that NetReg is an improvement to security, some students have expressed concern over various issues, including privacy and compatibility with the aforementioned download programs.

"[The network] has been slower," sophomore film production major Mike Litzenberg said. "I assumed it was to monitor those programs [like Kazaa, LimeWire, etc], but I don't know that for a fact."

Thompson assured that the download programs "stopped working before we employed NetReg; we didn't actively do anything. We're always going through our switches and routers to try to enable as much as possible, the use of the network for stuff like online gaming."

As far as using download programs, which can be used for illegal downloads, Thompson said, "We're proactive about allowing people great access [to the network]. We're not going to stop it, necessarily."

"Most campuses use NetReg," Thompson added. "It will give us a real-time look at what is happening on the network."
[via Los Angeles Loyolan:]
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