UARIZONA'S WORLD CLASS NETWORK
The data network is the foundation of information technology at
the University of Arizona. It’s the backbone for all wired and
wireless internet connectivity on the main campus in
Tucson and at distance locations across Arizona.
Securing the Campus With Wired Network Registration
Networks across the University grew organically over the decades, as every aspect of the institution used the internet more and more. Some campus buildings had data jacks where anyone could connect to the network.
It was convenient for academic exploration, but it was not a best practice for cybersecurity.
Personal information, financial information, and high-level research could be at risk of a breach. Other threats included online vandalism and ransomware. Securing the campus network is a critical part of protecting the University’s data, operations and reputation.
The Arizona Auditor General recommended that the University have stronger protocols in place to know who (users) and what (devices) were accessing its computer network.
The CIO Division partnered with network managers across campus on two major initiatives:
- Implementing the 802.1x security protocol, which requires registration, on the wired network.
- Replacing all Ethernet switches (hubs or splitters) with centrally provided manageable equipment.
The Division’s project team and campus partners implemented this work, building by building, within a very short timeframe mid-September to mid-December. Campus IT staff were tasked with reviewing data and providing information during highly challenging times when most of the campus was working remotely due to the pandemic.
Once building networks were completed, UITS expanded the project to those Ethernet jacks where people had plugged in switches for multiple devices.
Replacement switches were ordered, configured, arranged for delivery, and larger, managed switches were installed. Where an additional Ethernet jack was a better solution, UITS installed those without the usual charge for such an installation.
These projects were highly collaborative, multi-step, campus-wide efforts. Accomplishing them during the pandemic against competing priorities was a huge job for all involved. However, the campus network now reflects best practices in security and is better positioned to respond to audit requests.
“The wired network registration project went very smoothly for us for the scope and size of the project. The overall security of the campus network has greatly improved with these changes and it was no small task by the team; they should all be commended.”