Safety net: Pima ups its Wi-Fi security

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Source: Pima Community College Facebook Page

By JOSH GRAY

In 2006, Pima Community College entered the world of Wi-Fi.

Since then, Pima has grown incrementally in new and updated Wi-Fi services, from small local hotspots to almost complete coverage on campuses.

If you are someone who lives on their phone and survives on Wi-Fi, then you may have noticed something different with Pima’s network services recently.

The new Wi-Fi change has nothing to really do with the overall coverage of Wi-Fi, but more with network security.

Pima has added two new Wi-Fi options — Pima-Wi-Fi and eduroam — as of the last week of June. This is why you might have experienced a lack of Wi-Fi for 2018 summer classes.

While Pima-Guest is still available and open to the public, these new options are specifically encrypted Wi-Fi options that should  help keep Pima students’ credentials safe from cyber dangers. Pima-Wi-Fi is its own private secured network, while eduroam is a newer addition to Pima.

Eduroam is a service where a student can be connected among multiple universities. What that means is that all Pima students have the option and the ability to join a locked and secured network server either on Pima campuses or at other universities, such as University of Arizona, NAU and ASU.

Chris Bonhorst, director of networks and technical services at Pima, and Raj Murthy, chief information officer, recently discussed Pima’s new Wi-Fi security.

Murthy wants Pima students  “to use their credentials; to be electronically safe, because it is extremely, extremely critical for their future.”

“The IT security becoming a hazard, has been for years; critically important, but people don’t take it as seriously,” Bonhorst said.

The majority of students interviewed said they didn’t really recognize the change, but when asked which Wi-Fi option they used, they said Pima-WiFi.

They were also asked if they thought the new server was better than the old one.

“It is not better,” said Pima junior  Karina Teran, 21, studying transcript of speech language and sciences, adding that it appears to be the same speed and there doesn’t seem to be improved connectivity.

One is now encrypted, this would make sense, because Bonhorst said that there wasn’t a cost change and that it has neither gone up nor down for the recent configurations.

“We have just over 630 hardware Wi-Fi access points across the software that is managed from a single piece of software,” Bonhorst wrote in an email. “The access points are replaced when they fail, are out of date, just need more capacity or we need more coverage.”

Because the price for overall maintenance and upkeep varies every year, no one was able to provide an average cost.

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