Campus

Transition to New School Wi-Fi is Buffering

Michael McDevitt | The PHOENIXThe “LUC” Wi-Fi network is more secure than the old “loyola” network. Loyola Information Technology Services said that as more students connect to the now-standard “LUC” network, the old old network will hopefully be retired by the end of the semester.

While Loyola’s Information Technology Services (ITS) said the transition to Loyola’s more secure Wi-Fi network has been going smoothly, it has taken longer than anticipated.

ITS introduced the university’s three new Wi-Fi networks, “LUC,” “LUC-Devices” and “LUC-Guest,” in March 2016, and ITS planned on retiring the old “loyola” network at the end of 2016.

But three weeks into the spring 2017 semester, students are still using the old network.

Only about half of registered devices have connected to one of the three new networks, according to Jim Pardonek, Loyola’s Information Security Officer, and Dave Wieczorek, the network manager at ITS.

“We are approaching 50 [percent] adoption rate. We will soon begin an active campaign to promote the migration with the intent of retiring the [‘loyola’] Wi-Fi network,” the two wrote in an email to The PHOENIX.

The adoption rate is a percentage calculated from the number of devices using “LUC” compared to those using “loyola,” according to Wieczorek.

The three “LUC” networks are an improvement over the old network because they were “designed to improve access, security and reliability and allow on-campus guests self-service internet access,” according to an ITS email sent to the Loyola community in August 2016.

Information systems professor Frederick Kaefer said a Wi-Fi network’s security is based on the level of encryption of the information being sent and stored.

“The challenge with wireless networking is it’s open to anybody to intercept it,” Kaefer said. “Encryption scrambles everything using a code so that … you can’t tell what it says.”

In order to connect a device to one of the “LUC” networks, a person must log in to his or her Loyola account and also trust the network’s authentication certificate. Kaefer said this is essential to maintain a secure network connection.

“This idea of a trusted network [means] that you’re trying to connect to a device and you’re communicating with a device. Well, the vulnerability exists that if you try to communicate with [the network] … they need to learn some information about [your device],” said Kaefer.

But for the nearly 50 percent who have accessed the newer networks, an unscientific PHOENIX survey found many have experienced problems connecting. Of the 153 Loyola student respondents, 58.8 percent said they had “a lot” of trouble connecting to the Wi-Fi network, while 23.5 percent of students reported having “some” trouble connecting to them.

Many of the devices connected to one of the “LUC” networks were never registered on the “loyola” network. Returning students who were already using “loyola” have been slower to adopt, according to Pardonek and Wieczorek.

“Since most of these devices were already registered and connected to [‘loyola’], students are not seeing the need to change to ‘LUC,’” Pardonek and Wieczorek stated.

Some Loyola students either continue to use the old network or had no idea there was a new network to use.

Junior Caitlyn Wood said she didn’t know about the “LUC” network and has been using “loyola” without any issue. She said ITS should email students telling them how to connect if it wants students to migrate to the new network.

“My computer automatically connects to ‘loyola,’” said the 20-year-old nursing major. “Maybe they could send out an email with direct instructions on how to connect.”

Matt Sanchez, an advocacy and social change major, said he was unaware when the transition to the new network was happening.

“I wasn’t aware that they had new Wi-Fi. I know that there were emails I got … about how there were plans … but I had not known it had taken place,” said the 21-year-old junior who’s still using the old network.

Daniel Vonder Heide, director of infrastructure services for ITS, said they have delayed the retirement of the old network until more members of the Loyola community adopt the network, but the date is still unconfirmed.

“I do not believe we have a firm date on retiring ‘loyola.’ I suspect it will be after the semester,” Vonder Heide wrote in an email statement to The PHOENIX.

Pardonek and Wieczorek said the delay was to ensure a smoother transition to the network.

“The thought of making this change was to eliminate the rush of computer registrations when continuing students return from break,” stated Pardonek and Wieczorek.

Jaz Hayes, a 22-year-old senior, still uses the “loyola” network but is hopeful for the increased security and speed of “LUC.”

“I’m actually looking forward to the change [to the new Wi-Fi]. Hopefully, it’ll make our experience a lot easier,” said the ad/PR major.

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