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Housing Network Security on College Campuses

Joining the “Greek life” and becoming a part of a fraternity or sorority is very popular for incoming college students. Many parents pay the extra costs associated with these social organizations so their child can be involved on and off campus with a large range of activities and opportunities for social networking.

One of the highlights of being in a sorority or fraternity is the opportunity to live in the housing offered by the organizations. The houses are usually on campus, freestanding, newly renovated to keep up with the generations that occupy them and much larger than other living options. In the United States, the largest reported Greek house is almost 60,000 square feet, located in Indiana at Indiana University. These features make Greek housing a much more attractive living option compared to the apartments or single family houses in the area.

While there are many amenities offered by Greek housing, there are also some things that may be left out. One important necessity that an apartment complex usually offers that the Greek housing may not is internet connection, or Wi-Fi. Not having access to wireless internet can be another added cost to parents whose child lives in fraternity or sorority housing. Without Wi-Fi, students will be forced to use unreliable, best effort delivery of cellular data creating the possibility for additional payments to the service provider and exposure to an unsecured, unreliable network. When paying the expenses to live in Greek housing, internet connection should be included and if it is, it is important to be sure students are operating on a secure network.

The challenge with securing data networks in a house that typically houses over 30 people is the large number of devices the network will be connected to and the opportunity this setting presents for virus and worm outbreaks, which can be extremely disruptive. Attacks like this can cripple a network and cause issues with day-to-day functions for many weeks. For students living in the Greek housing, this can interfere with their course work and deadlines and cause them to have to go to a busy computer lab instead of studying in the comfort of their room or designated study area.

A highly secure network that regulates and restricts new devices and users is the desired environment for keeping a heightened level of security in the houses, but with the large amount of new, personal devices in and out of a fraternity or sorority house, it is unrealistic to have such a strict network. A more doable solution for Greek housing to ward off attacks, or possible attacks, is for the organization to bring in IT professionals to administer a network admission control that will examine every device that attempts to log onto the network, verifying these devices comply with security policies and that each device has up-to-date antivirus software. Executing pre-emptive controls help thwart the possible threat of a virus or cyber threats coming into the network through a device that is in the internal network.

Another concern in network security are the external threats that work to gain unauthorized access to networks. Incorporating a firewall technology that is centralized with the network into one module will assist in controlling and managing the network and possible external threats. This approach is much more effective than standalone firewall appliances.

 Greek organizations taking pro-active steps, even if the building itself is decades if not centuries old, will make a significant difference in the quality of wireless connection for Greek housing. Not only will the students benefit from a highly secure and protected network, but parents can have peace of mind that their credit cards, social security numbers, and other personal information will be better protected and less likely to suffer from a security attack.