PACC Requires Log-In To Ensure Document Safety

Over break, the Technology and Telecommunications department (T&T) worked on improving Phillips Academy’s computer network capabilities, and as of this term, students are now able to log on to any computer on campus and access their computer settings and any files that they have saved to their space. Students working in the Phillips Academy Computer Center (PACC) are now greeted with a window asking them to enter their username and password to access the computer. In an attempt to alleviate confusion, however, the two entries will correspond with the usernames and passwords issued to members of the Andover community for logging onto PAnet. This new security system was introduced in response to several years of student requests for a way to store their documents on the network while preventing acts of plagiarism from being tempting. Director of Technology and Telecommunications Valerie Roman explained, “Our goal was to provide a service that the students wanted, in a convenient and secure manner, i.e., a place on the network where they could store and access their own files from anywhere on campus.” Students are now able to directly save files in an area of network known as My Documents and then access them from their dorm rooms or at home by logging into PAnet online. Students are also able to configure their desktop and automatically save their preferences. With these new measures in place, students can take full advantage of the resources housed in the library with less inconvenience. Students were previously unable to upload files from the library and store them to access them later from the PACC or their dorm room. This left students with no way to save documents that they had created or modified in the library, and this inconvenience left them unable to send the files as attachments to their own email accounts either. Though a few computers provided the option of saving files in a location called “Storage,” those files were readily accessible to any individual using a PACC computer and did not provide for any privacy or security. Since the library is a central area of study during and after school hours, this also posed a great inconvenience to students. To address student concerns, T&T undertook the research for appropriate software. The first step to accomplish the new initiative was taken over the summer of 2002, when two new technologies were implemented to ensure the security of student files; namely, Microsoft’s Active Directory and an EMC Storage Area Network. T&T then collaborated with the student group Techmasters during the Fall term and completed the remaining work necessary over the winter break to finalize the new system capabilities before its unveiling last week. Despite her high hopes for the new program, Mrs. Roman was quick to warn that this new system is not infallible. Given the amount of secure data that will now be stored in a student’s individual account, she emphasized the need for one to log out after using the computer. Though recent campus attention has been directed towards broadband usage by students, the new measures are completely unrelated to monitoring student activity online, according to Mrs. Roman.