Digital certificate adds option for accessing wireless network
Published: Thursday, August 30, 2007
Updated: Saturday, September 19, 2009 14:09
Wireless Internet users on campus now have a new way to connect to the network that does not require extra software.
Now, users can automatically join the network with a digital certificate that authorizes the connection.
Users previously had to download the Cisco Virtual Private Network software and use it to log on to the network. This software uses system resources while running in the background of the computer, which consumes system memory.
"The digital certificate is so much better than the VPN Client," Allen Taylor, chief technology officer, said. "We are encouraging everyone to install the certificate, which works for both Windows XP and Vista."
Taylor also said with the VPN client, the computer had to be connected to the network at all times. If the user put his or her laptop computer into sleep mode or moved from building to building the VPN client would log the computer off the network.
The digital certificate automates the login process and does not require extra software on the computer to authorize the connection. This is used as a security precaution to prevent people not affiliated with the university from accessing the network.
"We have an academic network and try to make it as open as possible, but we have to strike a balance," Jon Cutler, associate director of systems administration, said. "To control the security of the network, we need everyone to authorize their account. The VPN client did that in the past, but by using the digital certificate, we can take care of that authorization automatically."
While the VPN client is still available for use on campus, students are following the directions to create the certificate for their computers.
"Some people might not feel comfortable setting it up because of the length of the directions, but they are very easy to follow," Jared Marsh, junior chemistry major from Clarksburg, W.Va., said. "It is evident that a lot of effort was put into making the tutorial. It was more in-depth than I expected it to be, but that is necessary."
Comparing the VPN client to the new digital certificate, Marsh said the VPN client was easy to initially configure and use, but he sees the convenience of the certificate.
"Instead of running this software in the background all the time, I can use the certificate to automatically connect to the network," Marsh said. "That saves memory for other applications to run and will be much better than the login process through the VPN client when I want to connect to the network."
The VPN client will continue to be in use until June 2008, when it permanently will be phased out in favor of the digital certificate.
Directions on how to connect using the digital certificate can be found at www.marshall.edu/ucs. Questions should be directed to the UCS Help Desk on the fourth floor of the Drinko Library.
Brandon Ambrose can be contacted at email@example.com.