Starbucks-fueled Developer

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Finally, Somebody, Got it Right!

My wife and I were heading out of town this weekend but, before we could begin our trip, she had to take a PRAXIS test for her masters so she could student teach this fall and, thus, graduate in Spring of 2008. She's enrolled at Shippensburg University and the test just so happened to be offered there today which, semi-conveinently, wasn't too far out of the way of our destination. So, I tagged along, naturally, as why double back home just to turn around and head in the same general direction. The trick? Find something to occupy myself for 2-3 hours during the test...

Naturally, I took my work-issued laptop and reading material. When I first sat down, I figured I'd crack-open GMail and send a few necessarsy replies before studying. I figured, as most modern-day universities do, Ship would have wireless and I'd be online in no time.

After finding and connecting to the campus WAP, a sinking feeling fell upon me; I suddenly started having flashbacks from college when NIMDA and CODE-RED crippled my alma mater's network. While I was protected by a Linksys router in my dorm then, I did not have such the "luxury" today. This time, it was only me, my laptop, and the Ship campus network with a direct pipe to the Internet. I became very, very afraid.

My first course of action was to double check and see that at least, by some strange occurence of good fortune, that work had, in-fact, enabled Windows Firewall and that I at least had that protection.


Four-letter words abound (silently as there was a gentleman sleeping in the chair next to me) and five minutes later, I disconnected, and turned on the firewall. Thank God I run as a non-admin; who knows what could've happened. Right?


Turns out once I felt "secure" about the connection was about to plug into, somebody actually thought out network security at good ol' Shippensburg University. When I fired up my browser to send those e-mails, I was greeted by a solitary web page saying "we don't recognize your computer on our network. Please login using your student ID and password to connect to the network". WOW!!! How 'bout that?! The network admins here had enough sense and forethought to say "with all the laptops, hand-helds and who knows what else roaming around these days, we need to be extra cautious. Anything new/strange that suddenly shows up on our network, isolate it on a separate LAN and require them to authenticate before bringing them in."

Needless to say, I was very, very, very impressed. It only took 4, almost 5, years for academia to "catch-up" on network safety/security, but it looks like it happened anyway. I'm thankful that my wife gave me her login credentials (in case I had to use a lab), or else, it could've turned out to be a worse afternoon -- in many, many regards.

And for those killjoys out there, yeah, I do realize that being summer, it's highly likely that the campus isn't that flooded with too many God-knows how nastily infected student machines; always better safe than sorry.


  • I find it courious that someone who was happy about finding the network secured and unhappy about his secured laptop felt no angst using "borrowed" credentials to utilize a network they really were not intitled to. Had the EDU "got it right" and done their job properly you still would have been refused because your MAC address would have been refused because it was not registered. Hopefully in your case the campus folks wanted to allow "free" public connections and they were done in an isolated DMZ where the student body and SHIP assets would not be accessible. That way malcontents using barrowed, stolen, or should have expired credentials could do less harm

    Their getting better but you proved they are not there yet

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Monday, December 03, 2007 3:43:00 PM  

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