UB Network Rendered Accessible for Off-Campus Users



For Kenman Choo, accessing the UB network from his off-campus apartment has always been difficult. Like other commuters, he struggled with slow connection speeds when navigating the family of buffalo.edu websites from off-campus and the total inability to access shared files from other users on the residence halls networks.

"I've lived off-campus since halfway through sophomore year," said Choo. "Accessing the network was not possible. SOAR was slow, even www.buffalo.edu was slow. And downloading wasn't possible."

That, however, has changed. Computing and Information Technology (CIT) has released its virtual private networking (VPN) client that will enable off-campus users to access the internal network. With the addition of the VPN client, off-campus Microsoft Windows users who have a high-speed connection can search and download files from the campus network and utilize the family of buffalo.edu sites at broadband speed.

"Now I can access all this stuff," Choo said. "It's great to see [the Windows] network neighborhood again."

Mike Riley, a junior psychology major, also accesses the network from off-campus.

"I still live in my parents' house," said Riley, "so I could never see the network neighborhood and share files with my friends. Even though I still only use a modem, this allows me to download at my full 56K speed, instead of my old maybe-1K a second."

The client will allow students and faculty alike to link up the UB internal network via their non-UB Internet service providers.

According to Rick Lesniak, director of academic services, this is accomplished by an application of the VPN client which software strips away a slower internal Windows security measure and replaces it with it's own security layer specifically suited to access UB's internal network.

"By taking away that security measure," said Lesniak, "and replacing it with the client's own security, it allows for a faster, more streamlined connection to the internal UB network."

The client creates an encrypted "tunnel" that connects directly to UB from the user's computer, giving users of UB's wireless internal network increased security from outside interference.

"By forming this 'tunnel' directly to the server, the user is literally surrounded by walls of encoded security," said Lesniak. "This is a benefit for both standard users and wireless users. It provides the security and confidentiality required for a wireless network."

CIT will be distributing the client as part of its updated Tech Tools CD in the fall. Users who wish to can download the client immediately at: http://wings.buffalo.edu/computing/software/dce/cdaccess/win/UBvpn-ms-35.zip.

CIT also plans to have a client that would permit Macintosh users to access from off campus, as well as the potential for a Linux-based client, which would provide access to users of that operating system as well.

"A Macintosh client will almost certainly see the light of day," said Lesniak. "Linux, maybe not as good a shot, but the potential is there. We'll see if there is need for it, and go from there."