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IT keeps students’ online information safe
Jason Yang / Senior Staff Writer
Students supply an abundance of information to attend UNT, from social security numbers to credit card numbers to birth dates. The more than 200 employees working for the university’s Information Technology Shared Services ensure that valuable information is safe and protected from viruses, online glitches and other digital threats.
Charlotte Russell, who works for Administration and Compliance, said ITSS comprises about 10 teams, including an admin team in charge of the university’s email and a team working on Blackboard Vista and Learn, as well as others patching up the enterprise information system and information security.
An individual team’s size depends on the amount of work for each section. Russell said EIS has about 80 personnel, while other groups can be as small as four people.
“We take our work at ITSS very seriously,” Russell said. “If there is any suspicion, we will look into it.”
Information technology manager Rich Anderson said his team of four full-time analysts is on call 24 hours a day in case of emergencies, such as a breach in personal information or a bug in the system at UNT and UNT Dallas.
Anderson said the time to fix a security problem depends on the severity of the problem. Quick tasks include configuration and adding firewalls, but for vital problems, like a 2005 identification issue with the UNT housing system, the process will be more meticulous.
“For the 2005 incident, we had to discover and investigate the cause, and report it to the FBI,” Anderson said. “Then we had to make changes to business security so they could move forward.”
Information technology and information sciences professor John Windsor said the university fights off phishing attempts and viruses all the time.
“You just don’t see them because the university does a pretty job keeping the security free of viruses,” Windsor said.
He said it’s important for students know the basics of web security: delete emails from unfamiliar senders, don’t view emails with an unknown browser, make sure a computer is fully patched and download anti-virus protection.
“An infection can happen by simply opening an unknown email and browser because someone can just configure a code where the user opens the mail and the computer is infected,” Anderson said.
He said to be wary of online games because they attract spywares. The user can clear the spyware by deleting history and cookies in most computers’ settings section.
He also cautioned that students should be aware what they write in emails remains permanently on record.
“Microsoft stores all the students’ emails for future uses, such as subpoena,” Russell said.
However, UNT’s computer security is under safe management.
“Our security is good at keeping the university as safe as it can be,” Anderson said. “They do a good job balancing educating and protecting students, faculty and staff.”