Balancing Security, Access & Services

The laws pertaining to networks and data—and those who provide them—are changing rapidly. Graham Leach Blighly. FERPA. HIPPA. BIPPA. (I made that last one up). But you get the point. There are the most common regulatory requirements for establishing security standards. They require PSU to act in a secure and responsible way with our data, the computers and devices that carry data, and the network upon which data travel.

Picture PSU as a virtual place. It's called the domain. We own that territory, that space in the Internet. Think of it like a castle within which there is a community of groups and individuals. Some areas of our community are very secure; only those who have a legitimate reason to go there are allowed to pass.

We're also an open environment, where academic freedom and access to information is valued. We bring people to our domain. We make an attractive web and help outsiders find information about us. We splay ourselves and our ideas for all to see.

We have data that is used for a variety of online services, some for external viewers, some for internal viewing only through myPlymouth. Register for classes, pay bills, access syllabi and course materials, converse with classmates in discussion groups. Access a wealth of online research and reference materials. Email. Surf. And, if you’re inclined, give online.

PSU is a private ISP, or internet service provider. It is a closed network, opened only with a valid login from a PSU student, faculty, staff or recognized friend. We provide guest accounts for short-time use. Otherwise, our internal network is closed. That's good…you want us to do that. To protect the data that is transmitted for all those above services.

Last year, in a big step toward cleaning up our network, we started a new program where all students connecting on the network had to have computers that had current security and antivirus software (that we provided). That was also true of wireless users. Not only do you have to have a valid account to get on the PSU network, you have to have a clean machine.

It's like living in a community and having to show proof of inoculations. Sad but true. But once you come in, you get more than your money's worth.

That's because there's some serious talent under the PSU technology hood.