InfobITS Logo ITS - Fall 2006
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Connecting to UH Safely on the Road
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by Michael Hodges & Naomi Okinaga

Ubiquitous wireless technology has made UH Services such as Webmail and MyUH conveniently available from nearly anywhere; Volcano Joe's in Manoa, Barnes and Noble in Manhattan, and all the little internet cafes everywhere just to name a few possibilities. Most of these hotspots are open networks that don't use encryption. Basically, every time you connect to one of these your laptop is transmitting on a local area network that includes everyone around you, not all of whom necessarily have the best of intentions.

All on-line UH services listed in the Guide to IT Services are secured, such as email, Webmail, Banner, MyUH, SECE, and ePurchasing to name a few. The last hole was closed on July 18th, 2006 when unencrypted email traffic from clients to the main UH email server was disallowed. No information, sensitive or otherwise, is passed over the Internet in the clear when connected to any of the listed services.

When using other Internet services, awareness of security is critical. For example, when using Instant Messenger (IM), unless specific steps are taken, assume that all communications are in clear text and that someone is likely looking in on your conversation. Obtaining the software to read other people's IM is trivial. Similar for other on-line activities, such as web browsing, be very selective about what you share unless you know that you are using a secure method of communication. Passwords and other confidential information should only be entered on thr Web in “secure” (https or “locked”) browser sessions.

Tip: If you normally access email using Outlook or some other email client installed on your desktop, when traveling you can use any web browser to read your UH email (see link below). Be sure to log out when you are finished and *close* all instances of the browser. And as with all networked computers, you need to be running antivirus and anti-spyware software with the latest updates, your operating system needs to be running the latest security patches, and if you are using Windows XP make sure that the firewall is enabled. Additionally, you should have file sharing turned off.

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