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When Technology Hits the Road
Janet OKeefe

Computing and Communications Services and Support Provided to Memorial's Faculty and Staff When Travelling

When travelling, Memorial's faculty and staff have several services available to them which allow for communication back to the campus network and access to e-mail, shared folders, etc. These services vary in functionality, usability and security, and are described below. For all services, you are strongly encouraged to contact the service desk for configuration and consulting advice before you leave for your trip. In some cases, technical configuration or approval of services may require up to three days.
Please contact C&C's Service desk:


By phone:  (709) 864-4595
By e-mail: Help@mun.ca
In person: HH-2012 (Math Building)


Support from the Service Desk – Help, setup advice and consulting for all of these services is available through C&C's service desk and you can also access help services when travelling. Memorial's service desk is staffed and fully available between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Newfoundland Time and all services are supported during that time. After hours some support is available, but generally only for key services such as student services (D2L, Banner, etc.). Outside of our normal business hours you may be able to access support by using e-mail or telephone. When using e-mail put Travel Support Request in the subject line, or when leaving a voice-mail please indicate you are travelling first thing in the message and remember to leave your contact information.


Virtual Private Network (VPN) – the preferred means of accessing Memorial's Information Technology environment when travelling is VPN. VPN is a service which encrypts, or scrambles, data travelling over a public network so that the traffic cannot be intercepted. VPN involves installing software on the devices to be used (Laptops, Netbooks, etc.), which must be arranged through the service desk. In addition to security, VPN provides two major services:


1. Regular Outlook/Exchange access. This means that the mail system software used to access Memorial's Exchange server will run remotely, just as it does on a machine connected directly to MUNet. Some setup of the laptop may be required.


2. Access to shared files. Generally, it is good practice to store work data and files on the shared file service "Voyager" – this means that your data stays behind Memorial's Firewall or security screen – but the data is available to you anytime you are on the network, either through a direct connection or VPN. Access to your shared folder is particularly useful as it avoids the need to e-mail large files, as sometimes happens when travelling.

Mobile Phones and Handhelds – Most travelers now take a Blackberry, an iPhone or even a basic mobile phone and they are able to "roam" on available voice and data networks on their travels. Memorial's contact with Bell Mobility allows for our very competitive rates anywhere Bell's service is available in Canada (although you may find in some cases your device will roam to another network and you may not get the same rates); however, internationally, whether in the United States or elsewhere, the mobile networks can be very expensive if you simply roam onto any available network. Through Bell Mobility, Memorial has access to international packages that can reduce your cost and save you significant amounts of money. Please speak to our telecom team, through the service desk, and they can advise you of the options available.


Eduroam – There is an international partnership of universities who subscribe to a service titled "Eduroam". This is a partnership that sets technical standards that allow for faculty and staff from participating sites to use their home institution credentials (userid and password) to access the wireless network of any other site. This technology replaces the cumbersome "Guest Account" practice which institutions are sometimes forced to use for visitors, conferences, etc. Memorial subscribes to Eduroam and you can find other sites that also subscribe at: https://wiki.bc.net/.


Older services which are no longer supported:


Dial-up Services – Dial-up access to Memorial's network, in particular, and the Internet, in general, is disappearing in North America and in many other parts of the world. It is slow, expensive and unreliable and brings security issues. Computing and Communications is phasing out broad-based support of dial-up in early 2012. Full support of this service will be completely phased out by February 2013. If you feel that you need to have access to a dial-up account, contact the C&C Service Desk at 4595; however, this service is no longer recommended for Memorial's users.


Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) - This service is no longer viable for travel away from the North East Avalon. RDP is a service which allows a remote computer to access another computer and for the remote computer to have access to all of the services available on the other machine. While RDP is a convenient means of accessing your office machine when you are on the road, there are two distinct disadvantages:


1) RDP requires that you leave your office machine turned on for the duration of your trip and poses some issues of sustainability and reliability (power outages), and


2) RDP means that your office machine must be available from outside of Memorial's security screen, which also means that hackers and people intent on mischief from the Internet can also attempt to "crack" or access your machine.


After considering both sides of this issue, C&C has decided that the safest thing for Memorial is to severely limit access to RDP to generally only the North Eastern Avalon area. Previously, in order to accommodate travelling faculty, RDP was available world-wide and thus China and Eastern Bloc countries, which are very active in hacking attacks, were able to try to penetrate Memorial's network.

 

Dec 16th, 2013

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