Login procedure cut from computer labs

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    By CHRISTA BUGEE

    Entering 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9 for a BYU identification number and 1-2-3-4-5-6 for a secret pin number gains computer access to users in all of the open computer labs on campus.

    Of the several open computer labs on campus that offer computer and Cougarnet access to students, most require the use of a 15-digit verification number. The verification number consists of a BYU identification number and a 6-digit secret pin number. These numbers ensure that only BYU students and employees are allowed access to the computers.

    The machine that provides the authentication server to the open labs is not functioning well, said Kelly McDonald, executive director of University Computing Services.

    “It’s a problem we are working on,” McDonald said.

    To fix the problem, computing services turned off the authentication for the labs. Although the server is not functioning, the purpose of the lab login is not a security concern, McDonald said. Although anyone can obtain access to the computers, they can not access students’ personal accounts.

    “The problem in all of the labs is temporary,” McDonald said.

    University Computing Services was hopeful that students would continue to enter their BYU ID numbers to receive access to the programs while the server was being fixed, McDonald said.

    The authentication provides a check point so that non-students can’t use BYU computers, he said.

    Although the computer labs ask for the user’s BYU identification and pin numbers, because the authentication has a flaw, it does not go through the user-access verification process. Failure to correctly verify user access allows access to anyone.

    Therefore, non-students can gain access to the computers by punching in any 15 random numbers when asked for their BYU identification and pin numbers in the labs.

    Joseph Olsen, a computing support representative for the Family Home and Social Sciences lab, was not aware of the problem. Olsen said he thought computing services had set up the authentication server so that only students and faculty members could use the computers and receive access.

    The FHSS lab’s authentication is not as strict, said John Rogerson, director of student services. The lab’s management wanted to offer Internet access in the FHSS college to students who didn’t have a Cougarnet account, Rogerson said.

    Some other labs on campus have also decided to implement a less strict authentication process because it takes a lot of time with the server not functioning properly, McDonald said.

    The absence of the authentication process does not cause a security problem in regards to people accessing other students’ e-mail accounts. But some students said they have had problems with e-mail security.

    “I’ve noticed that many times when you log out, the computer remembers your Cougarnet account and the next guy to sit down can read your e-mail,” said Jesse Morgan, a senior from Twin Falls, Idaho, majoring in humanities.

    The main reason students have problems with people getting into their accounts is because they fail to log off their computers, McDonald said.

    “Like any kind of activity, you need to be careful,” he said.

    In Fall 1997, the $20 account set-up fee will no longer be necessary to gain access to the speciality programs, such as e-mail and the Internet, because BYU will now provide the programs to students as a benefit without costs.

    Aaron Tady, a sophomore from Kansas City, Kan., majoring in economics, said, “The college my sister goes to provides free e-mail addresses for all of their students. She likes it and I think it is a good idea, too.”

    BYU initially decided to provide students with the up-to-date information programs to improve institution-to-student communication, McDonald said.

    “The university will provide the source of funding,” he said.

    Funding for the new program will not cover students who publish and maintain their own web pages and those wanting UNIX computer accounts, McDonald said.

    Along with fixing the login problem, University Computing Services is in the process of solving how to obtain more computer access for student use, especially with the free programs being available in the fall.

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