SafeConnect may be well worth the hassle

Nick Scheuer

When students log onto the Sacramento State Wi-Fi network for the first time, they are forced to install a program implemented by the Information Resources and Technology department called SafeConnect, developed by Impulse Point.

From the get-go, SafeConnect has had a rocky start mostly involving the lack of knowledge regarding the program’s function. In fact, Vice President and Chief Information Officer of the IRT department Larry Gilbert said three e-mails were sent out before students were prompted to install SafeConnect on their computers, yet most students I spoke to were not aware of what SafeConnect does.

Before writing this article, I thought SafeConnect was just an annoying program I was forced to install for the college to track my browsing activity. However, once I learned a bit more about SafeConnect, I discovered that was far from the truth.

Gilbert said SafeConnect “was really implemented in response to Sac State’s information security policies” requiring every single device connected to the university’s wireless network to have protection against viruses, spyware and other malicious programs. Among the IRT department this is called “patch management.”

SafeConnect is designed simply to implement its patch management by making sure every student’s computer has an anti-virus program installed, such as McAfee or Norton.  This is quite a daunting task when the wireless network has 8,300 unique users.

Gilbert said before SafeConnect was rolled out to students, Sac State was suffering “half a dozen major attacks in a year.”

 One such attack actually disabled ASI’s computers, along with any computer connected to ASI, for a full week.

“As a direct result of SafeConnect, we haven’t had a major virus incident in half a year,” Gilbert said.

Not only has SafeConnect successfully protected Sac State’s computers, but there have been very few complaints from the students. Only 600 complaints have been filed, which is less than one percent of people who have installed the program.

Of the problems people have experienced involving SafeConnect, most of them are related to people occupying multiple roles.

Gilbert said there are three roles a person can be assigned to: student, staff member or faculty. When a student is also a staff member, for example, technical problems can crop up involving how SafeConnect is installed.

The rest of the computers experiencing problems with SafeConnect had other issues that interfered with how the program functioned.

Clearly, SafeConnect is a valuable program for Sac State and without the program, the integrity of, not only the computers on campus, but also of the school as a whole, is compromised. Yes, it can be a pain at times, especially if someone is both a staff member and a student, but SafeConnect seems to be worth any of the small inconveniences it may cause.