Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Practical Costs of Network Security

I got some new computers for my stats lab today.

When they arrived at the district warehouse, they were loaded with Windows 7. By the time they got to me, they had Windows XP on them. My district apparently only supports WinXP--I wonder how often they upgrade to new operating systems on all those Macs?

The district likes to make sure its network is "secure", so on PCs (but not Macs) there are all sorts of login scripts and passwords and such--hoops that must be jumped through before the computer will even fully boot up. Such is the case with these new computers as well.

I had students using some of these for a project write-up in stats class today. MS Word, that's all, pretty standard stuff. Some had difficulty saving a file onto their flash drive from within Word; the work-around was to save the file to the desktop and then to move it from the desktop to the flash drive.

Is there truly no way to have both reasonable computer/network security and reasonable utility for the user?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Have fun...all the network security will definitely slow down how well the computers work...from time to time...enjoy!

DADvocate said...

Working at a marketing research company, we have a lot of network security as a lot of the research we do is for the specific client's eyes only. We're running Windows 7 now, but skipped Vista completely because it sucked big time.

If I start for a boot up, I think I have to log in in three times, maybe they shortened it to two, but after than there's no problem copying to cds, flash drives, etc. Sounds to me that your network guys need to upgrade themselves.

Scott mccall said...

Upgrade to mac

maxutils said...

7 is far superior to XP, and both are inferior to the worst stuff Apple has put out. And, the really cool thing about Apple? You don't need a virus guard, because no one writes Apple viruses.

Darren said...

I don't like Mac's software. I like PC's and the flexibility they provide.

That doesn't explain why the district does stupid things.

Scott mccall said...

It's not that no one witted apple viruses....it's just that no ones really successful at it. Linux and unix are very difficult to crack, that's why fortune 500 companies use them as a base for their servers.

But macs are much more secure that they won't allow students to "hack" them as easily.

Darren said...

Actually, what I read is that Apples are as easy to hack as PCs, it's just that their small market niche makes it "not so fun" to write viruses for.

tothemathlimit said...

Because I teach one class at a local university, I have to have a login on the UT system. Every time I have to change my password, I can't help but think of the bitingly accurate xkcd cartoon on password strength because they have so many rules about what the password can be that you basically have to write the darn thing down because you'd never remember it!

maxutils said...

Darren . . . you are correct. Macs are just as easilly hackable, but no one does, because they represent about 10% of the market. Not sure if it makes up for them charging three times as much, but they do have a great operating system.

Ellen K said...

I ran into a similar situation when I got four computer for animation and graphic design funded by a grant. When order they had Windows 7 and Photoshop on them. By they time they made it through the system, they had Window XP and weren't able to run the verions of Photoshop purchased. Since the implementation of BYOT we have had four catastrophic attacks on our network. I would trust the integrity of the network in the lobby of any hotel before I would trust our network. And yet almost daily we are admonished to "use technology." My question "How?"