Our silent protector

Recently entering 2017, we have come into the most connected time between people that we have ever seen in human history. What do we have to thank for this connectivity? The Internet! Just about everybody living in America and other first world countries uses Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf’s invention everyday, multiple times a day. Safety on the net has been over-looked by many Millennials, whom are considered to be the most technically knowledgeable generation.

Helpful graphic about how the HeartBleed bug works:http://heartbleed.com/

Helpful graphic about how the HeartBleed bug works:http://heartbleed.com/

 

Since my time at The University of Denver we have seen a change in the provided web servers. Initially we had Pioneer net which despite the universities best effort had flaws. For example, back in 2011 the “Heartbleed bug” was exposed, essentially this malicious software was tricking OpenSSL (software our University implemented for security) to obtain memory contained on our servers like usernames and passwords. This graphic to the right will hopefully help with understanding exactly how this bug worked. Since this event, DU has gone through all of it’s critical servers using SSL and have assured our security.

 

“We are pleased to report NO critical applications provided by Du are vulnerable” (cited from the DU WiFi security page)

 

This Heartbleed bug while discovered back in 2011 to many people, ~70% of the internet uses SSL protection. DU did not address or release anything about this problem until 2014. It is almost safe to say that 3 years with our servers exposed to this virus, a lot of data was probably stolen.

 

“I had no idea about this, I don’t really know a lot about the subject of online security. This is something I use every day; you know? I can’t imagine how much information of mine is on the web… probably a lot” said Rob Hurdman when asked about how he felt on the subject.

 

While DU has made comments about assurances for our security on the net, they do also provide other ways to prevent malware (malicious-software). One of the downloadable tools they suggest is a program called CrowdStrike , located  on Pioneer web in the resources tab.

 

“I had no idea of what DU suggests and offers its students and faculty for web security” said Business student Sachin Verma. “It’s always good to know and is something I should be more conscious of”

October 15, 2017, Outside of DU's Mass Communications Building. Junior Sachin Verma

October 15, 2017, Outside of DU’s Mass Communications Building. Junior Sachin Verma

 

CrowdStrike is your silent protector. Once downloaded there is no interface or active application, it runs in the background constantly. It repeatedly and automatically runs through the data on your computer detecting malware, blocking attacks or preventing you from going to bad webpages. DU also offers other security measures as well on that same resource tab. Most notably are the VPN software’s.

 

You can download VPN’s onto your laptop and smartphone. What a VPN is, is a Virtual Private Network, that adds another layer of privacy by hiding your internet activity from attackers. But they also can be used for illegal actions, it can hide the location of where a user is accessing the internet; making an attacker invisible when caught.

 

The University also links to a VMware product. Which allows a user to connect to the DU WiFi servers on anywhere. Which would offer all of the same security measures DU WiFi offers when you are physically on campus.

 

Another aspect of WiFi that is talked about much more is speed. In the Anderson Academic Commons building, DU WiFi has a ping of 13ms (per millisecond) when surfing the web, 68.96 Mbps (Megabits per second) when downloading and can operate at 105.14Mpbs when uploading.

April 11, 2017. Anderson Academic Commons.

April 11, 2017. Anderson Academic Commons.

 

Internet speed is a topic that internet providers boast over in commercials when they should be discussing about protection options. Just because something is faster does not make it safer, motorcycles may be faster but when a collision occurs being inside of a car offers more protection. Do not be discouraged by this, speed is still very important, especially during finals.

 

“I noticed that my internet on campus is always really slow during finals, or when the library is packed” said senior Kenzie Robertson “sometimes I have to leave the library because it’s so slow and go somewhere else. Also, when I’m walking to class is when I notice slow WiFi. My steaming services stop working in-between buildings.”

 

Understandably the web is slower on the move between buildings and classes. It would be interesting to see what software or actions DU could take in order to improve these noticeable WiFi-less zones on campus.

 

“I have no idea how they would make the WiFi on my phone faster when I’m walking around campus but that would be awesome” said Hurdman when asked what improvements could be make to his life on the web.

 

 

References:

https://pioneerweb.du.edu/resources

http://www.du.edu/uts/security/

http://beta.speedtest.net/result/6207198748

https://www.crowdstrike.com/)

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