ISU information security tightens network access to thwart would-be intruders

Would-be intruders currently launch approximately 150,000 attacks a day on the ISU network. To counter these attacks, network and security teams will tighten off-campus access to the networks, beginning Sept. 1.

"It's a move that will require some cooperation from Iowa Staters who access their office computers or servers from home or mobile devices," said IT security operations interim director Andrew Albinger. "But the frequency and seriousness of threats to our information security in recent months has made it necessary."

RDP, VNC, Telnet -- If you know these acronyms, you're affected

How VPN helps

Intruders try to hack into the ISU network by continuously guessing names and passwords and, occasionally, they get lucky. ISU's VPN adds an extra, more formidable security barrier. ISU experts are monitoring for abnormal activities and intruders get bumped out after just a few attempts. 

The changes only will affect people who log on to campus computers and servers remotely using RDP (remote desktop protocol), VNC (virtual network computing) or Telnet, Albinger said.

If they're not already doing so, these individuals will need to add a preliminary step to their log-on process by signing on to the ISU virtual private network (VPN).

Albinger advises those who use RDP, VNC or Telnet to seek assistance from their departmental IT staff and test the new VPN setup soon.

"Once the VPN software (Cisco Anyconnect) is installed on your device, you simply open it and sign on with your Net-ID and password before connecting to ISU. Be sure to check the VPN from an off-campus location before Sept. 1," he added.

No changes in email, Blackboard access

The new security measures won't affect those accessing ISU websites, email (Outlook or Cymail), AccessPlus, Blackboard or similar sites. No VPN is required to access these sites on-campus or off.