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Information Technology

SafeConnect and Wireless Q&A

September 13, 2013

Students, staff and faculty alike have all had the opportunity to connect to our new network authentication system, SafeConnect.  While for some it has been a seamless process to move away from Cisco CleanAccess to this new system, others have experienced some difficulties.  Below Information Technology respond to some of the questions that we’ve heard and try to identify some of the remaining known issues.

As always, if you have questions or problems, please contact us by sending email to consult@lclark.edu or calling the IT Help Desk at x7225. If you are experiencing difficulty in getting your laptop or other mobile device connected to wireless, please bring it to the IT Help Desk located in Watzek Library, room 120.

 

How often should we expect to login? 

You should only be expected to login once a semester.

What are the requirements to be compliant and allowed on the network? (AV, Windows update settings?)  

This is still a little in flux.  Ultimately, all computers, both Windows and Mac, will be expected to have critical system updates installed as well as current antivirus software.  Currently, only critical system updates are required.  Soon we are hoping to have the requirement for Windows antivirus working and we are waiting until Spring semester to implement the requirement for Macintosh Antivirus software.  These checks happen every 5 minutes.

What if my computer fails the security checks?

If your system has been determined not to be in compliance, your computer will be “quarantined.” You should also be given a message as to the reason for your failed compliance, but if you are having problems connecting, please verify that you don’t have pending software updates.  Keep in mind that you often must restart to completely install operating system updates. While quarantined, you will still have access to update servers for your operating system, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software.  

What is the wifi coverage like? (signal strength, area) 

With this new authentication system, we tried to turn off our 802.11b wireless coverage.  Moving solely to the 802.11X coverage for network speed.  However in doing so we learned that we had lost some coverage.  So, as September 5, we turned the slower 802.11b network back on until we can address the coverage issue with additional wireless access points.

How does LC Secure and LC Wireless differ? And can we use LC Wireless? What should be happening if we connect to LC Wireless? 

LC Wireless is the guest network and only allows access to a very limited number of services, including Watzek library web page, Boley library web page and the Internet in general.  Also, a feature that we plan to turn on soon is that guest access is only valid for a day at a time forcing guests to re-authenticate often.  In order to have full network access, you must be connected to LC Secure.

How do we tell the difference between a new change, and something that’s simply not working correctly? 

This is a difficult one to answer.  Of course, changes shouldn’t be detrimental to the way things work, but sometimes a change is seen as detrimental just because it is different.  I would say to please continue to ask questions and let us know if you think things aren’t working correctly.  This is often how we learn about existing problems.

Are there differences between how a PC and a Mac will interact with the network? 

Once we implement the anti-virus requirement on the Mac in January there will not be any difference in how they interact on the network.

It seems as though I have a harder time getting a WiFi connection.  Has the coverage been reduced?

In the week before school started, we turned off the slowest Wi-Fi speed (802.11b).  Although this made Wi-Fi faster for the majority of students, it did reduce the coverage in some areas on campus.  Due to this reduced coverage, we turned 802.11b back on last week. The coverage is now the same as it was last year. 

I’m being asked to enter credentials frequently. Since we were told that a single login per semester would be sufficient, is this normal?

We have seen this with some Windows machines but have not heard of the issue with other types of computers. There are some specific Windows settings changes we can recommend that may help with this.

Windows 8 users seem to be having more trouble than most.  Is this because learning a new OS layout makes everything hard, or if there’s something inherent to Windows 8 that’s compounding the issue. 

Yes, there were some initial difficulties with Windows 8 machines.  Many of the Windows 8 machines that came to the IT Help Desk incorrectly had the “Connect to these servers” box in the 802.11X Windows version of XpressConnect client.  We updated that software which reduced the number of Windows 8 complaints that we were hearing.  Even with that, we have still seen more Windows 8 machines than Windows 7 and about equal with Macs.  And yes, part of that is the learning curve of a new OS.

Have there been networking issues unrelated to the new authentication system?

During the first day of school, a network switch failed in Wood Hall which took down six access points.  Once the network switch was replaced, the AP’s came back online.  We also experienced some login issues unrelated to SafeConnect in the residence halls the evening of September 10. As always, if there are connectivity issues with the network, please let us know so that we can investigate and get them resolved as quickly as possible.

Certain webpages would not load on the wifi, but would load if connected via Ethernet, or from off campus.

We had an error in our wireless configuration that was blocking all websites that started with 192.x.x.x.  This was fixed as of September 5.

What is the most common problem with running the SafeConnect software?

The most common problem with running the SafeConnect Policy Key software is firewall and anti-virus software that block the agent from running or communicating. If you have a problem getting the Policy Key to run you should allow it open access inside your firewall and anti-vrus software.