By Maurice Cacho
While Ryerson works to update security measures on many of its main web services, there are no plans to improve protection on ResNet, the network used by students living in residence.
“Rogers @ Home is not going to protect your computer for you. We can only give [students] the tips, we can only remind them as much as we can: Do not leave file- sharing open,” said June Husain, head of Student NetReady and ResNet.
Jerry Co, program co-ordinator for ResNet, said the only way a student’s computer could be compromised is if the student has file-sharing enabled by using programs like KaZaa, and if the potential hacker knows the student’s MAC address (a specific code embedded into a user’s computer hardware).
The University of Waterloo consistently performs security scans on its residence network because it recognizes this threat, said Roger Watt, a University of Waterloo computer expert.
Watt explained that because rez computers exist on the same subnet-a mini network that connects 50 to 100 computers-they are more vulnerable to attack. But at Ryerson, given the right skills, anyone can gain access to another ResNet user’s computer if they’re on the same subnet, said Co, adding that Computing and Communications Services has no security precautions in place to protect users.
Earlier this year, user accounts were broken into when people began cracking other users’ passwords. “They actually sent e-mails to other people impersonating the person whose password they guessed,” said Brian Lesser, assistant director of teaching and technology support. As a result, CCS beefed up security on its matrix e-mail service.
New passwords must contain new numbers and letters. Still, June Woo, of student NetReady and ResNet programs, said it’s up to students to ensure they’re safe.
That’s not comforting to Adam Mazerall, a first-year Journlism student living in Pitman Hall. Mazerall has had hundreds of attempted invasions into his sytem since living in Pitman.
Luckily, he has his own firewall protection. But two of his friends’ computers have been “fried” from hacking. “If we’re hacked in here, [my computer is] my lifeblood for university,” he said.
“I can’t afford to pay a couple hundred dollars every time someone hacks into my computer.”