by Hayley O’Brien
Contrary to popular belief, SafeConnect does not block websites or monitor Internet browsing.
SafeConnect serves three main purposes; it protects the network from viruses, prevents unauthorized access, and keeps tabs on peer-to-peer file-sharing on the network.
SafeConnect discourages peer-to-peer sharing by notifying a file-sharer that Information Systems is aware that the software is on his or her computer and they don’t condone using it.
However, file-sharing isn’t prohibited, said Walt Seidel, network manager of information systems.
“There are many illegal uses for that software and as an ISP provider we have certain laws that we must follow,” Seidel said.
SafeConnect keeps a record of people who commit Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) violations by showing who was logged into the computer that committed the violation at the reported time, said Christina Lott, network security administrator.
These records are only looked at if there is an issue such as a RIAA violation or anything classified as a violation of Whitworth’s computer use policy. In such cases, Information Systems staff tracks down the person responsible, Lott said.
SafeConnect authenticates students and faculty. The program ensures that users have a valid Whitworth account and are using the correct network.
“We record everybody’s access at Whitworth, whether it’s the president’s or the janitor’s or the freshmen who just came in,” Seidel said.
The program records who accesses what computer and when, although it doesn’t necessarily record what the user does on the network.
If an individual is using copyrighted material, then the ISP provider must report to the copyright agency.
However, because Whitworth is a college, if the individual is a student, Information Systems does not have to give the copyright agency his or her name. The student is turned over to Student Life and is removed from the network until the copyrighted material is taken off the computer, Seidel said.
Students and faculty are prohibited from accessing pornographic, gambling or hate crime encouraging websites while on the Whitworth network, but not because of the SafeConnect software.
The policy is a cabinet mandate that came about in the late 2000s by the board of directors, and the Information Systems has been abiding by it since then, Seidel said.
“We do our part to try and provide a secure environment that is easily accessible but still secure,” Lott said. “The other part is making people aware there are things on the Internet with malicious intent.”
However, all of the blocked sites are available for access in the library labs 235 and 232.
“These are filtered just by there being a lot of people in the rooms,” Seidel said. “The likelihood of somebody in there looking at pornography for pleasure would be very small.”
SafeConnect also ensures that PC users on the campus network are up-to-date on all their anti-virus software and Windows operating system updates before they are allowed to access websites other than a select few Whitworth related ones. Mac users, on the other hand, do not have to keep their anti-virus definitions up-to-date, Lott said.
“We recommend that everybody have an anti-virus. We’re just not enforcing it,” Seidel said.
Contact Hayley O’Brien at email@example.com