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Office of Information Technologies

Network Access

Network Access Control

In order to provide a safe, efficient network as an educational resource at Washington College, OIT has implemented a system of Network Access Control (NAC.) This NAC will keep the College’s network and the network’s users secure. It will also ensure the highest level of network efficiency for all users. NAC aims to:

  • Protect users from viruses and other malicious software (Malware) and from identity theft or fraudulent activities
  • Ensure private network compliance with CALEA, a Federal mandate for network operators
  • Maintain the most efficient network for the Washington College community and its learning endeavors

The most noticeable change that Network Access Control brings to campus is the new login screen that greets you when initiating a wired or wireless network connection. This screen simply asks for your NetID and password each time you initiate a new session to verify your identity as an authorized network patron.

Explanation of Policy

Beginning in the summer of 2007, Washington College’s Office of Information Technologies (OIT) is implementing a network access control system (NAC). While the use of a NAC at Washington College is new it has been common practice at most colleges and universities as well as most businesses for several years. Authenticating users onto the network is a “best practice” that has become both important and necessary because of new Federal laws that speak to knowing who is using computer networks that connect to other places using the Internet.

Our goal is to comply with CALEA by creating a private network while also ensuring that you have uninterrupted access to academic and mission critical network services. We ask your help and your cooperation as we take the steps necessary to make this happen.

As background information, in 1994 Congress passed CALEA: The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act. In 2005 the FCC issued the rules under which we must now operate. The intent of CALEA is that anyone operating a “public communication network” must keep elaborate logs and a connection easily accessible to law enforcement agencies so they can eavesdrop on suspect individuals.

There is an exception to CALEA’s requirements. Organizations that can demonstrate that theirs is a “private network” need not comply. In a “private network,” only authorized members of a College community can gain access to the network by logging in each time they use it. By making our network private, we can avoid the cost, the difficulty, and the potential intrusion that public networks face. Given the alternative, the College decided to move to a “private network.” This means everyone must log onto the network in order to use the College’s network services (e.g. Blackboard, Datatel, WebAdvisor, and Webmail). If the printer you use is not directly connected to your computer, then you may be using a network printer. In a “private network,” you must log onto the network in order to print to a network printer.

Questions & Concerns

While we have made every effort to ensure a smooth transition to a “private network,” there may be some instances in which a desired network service is not working properly. If you experience any problems with the network, please contact the Helpdesk at 410-778-7777. We will evaluate the problem and make every effort to resolve it.

If you have questions about CALEA or issues and concerns about network access control, please contact  Cal Coursey at 410-778-7760.