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UWRF goes with a clearer picture, Windows 10 and tougher passwords

A student uses a computer in Chalmer Davee Library, May 21, 2012. Kathy Helgeson/University Communications

Falcon News Service

September 27, 2017

It’s Sunday afternoon and UW-River Falls students are relaxing on a futon in a crowded dorm room, eyes and ears glued to the football game.

“The Packers, of course! Aaron Rodgers all the way,” proclaimed Aaron Leiby, a returning on-campus resident that noticed an improvement in the visual quality of the campus TV service. The improvement is the result of a change in TV providers that the campus experienced over the summer.

“I like it a lot better,” Leiby said. “The quality has been good, the channels seem to stay in and you don’t have to re-scan all the time. I’m satisfied with it.”

The switch to a different TV provider was not an intentional change that the campus chose, but was the result of the previous provider being bought out by Apogee. Despite the buyout, the five-year contract that the campus had with the provider remains the same, according to the executive director of the Division of Technology Services, Joe Kmiech.

“It’s still the same channels, the same way to do them. If anything, you would have noticed better performance, better picture quality,” Kmiech said. “We went from a DirecTV environment to a Dish Network environment. The way that the video was downloaded and had to be processed here and then sent out to the campus network changed. It’s more of a direct path, so the image quality actually improved.”

Though the improvement in visual quality is a change that primarily affects only on-campus residents, another change was initiated over the summer that affects a large quantity of students, faculty and staff.

In an effort to keep pace with security risks, the Division of Technology Services began the process of upgrading all personal computer operating systems to Microsoft Windows 10, according to Kmiech.

Although the process began over the summer, not all personal computers on campus have received the upgrade.

“I think right now we’re at about 50 percent adoption, overall,” Kmiech said. “Eventually within this year we’ll have to have all of our campus PCs be up to Windows 10.”

In addition to many of the labs having already been upgraded, many of the personal computers that professors use in their offices have been upgraded as well, with some exceptions.

“The problem is in the computer in my office right now, but I called DoTS and they are very, very friendly,” said Juan Carlos Chaves, associate professor of Spanish. “They get interested in the problem that I have, and they do answer me back right away, and very polite.”

As students and professors continue to see the new operating system appear on more computers on campus, they can also both expect to have to change the passwords that they use to access the computers.

“There’s a set of new UW-System IT security policies that were passed about a year ago,” Kmiech said. “They went through a revision, just recently, and so now we’re in the implementation phase. The password changes that you’ll see as a student are going to be required to have 12-character passwords, you have to change them every 180 days.”

Although the new requirements alone are considerably stricter than the current user requirements, some individuals on campus will be required to maintain an even higher standard of security.

“People that have access to your data, student records, will have a higher level of protections, so they have a 15-character password that is changed every 60 days,” Kmiech stated.

The process of implementing the new requirements will begin on Sept. 26 and will continue through the month of October, according to DoTS.

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