Editor in Chief
This Wednesday an article in The Daily Hampshire Gazette was published that brought up painful memories for the Springfield College campus. This experience has led to greater computer safety for all faculty and students.
According to the Gazette, former Springfield College employee, David Linnehan, pleaded guilty to 37 counts of child pornography. In addition to these horrific crimes, Linnehan also used his position in the Springfield IT department to access private information from students’ laptops.
Among all of the students that the IT department contacted, to let them know that Linnehan extracted information from them, only one female student addressed the court.
“Confusion, anger and disgust completely overtook my mind and body,” the female said in court, according to the article. “I no longer walk alone on campus or leave campus in a car alone without the company of friends.”
Danny Davis, Chief Operation Officer at Springfield College, assured campus that the security of their private information is extremely important. It may not seem like a big deal, but password security is far more important than most students believe. The Technology Solutions Center has been taking measures long before this incident to ensure the safety of students’ information, but with such a serious matter taking place the enforcement of these rules has become far stricter.
“We take this very seriously. The Linnehan case was a violation for all of us,” said Davis. “Our practice now, [which] has been strengthened because of this case, is that we require you to change your password, or get a temporary password and then change it to something else when you pick it up. That way we don’t know your password and we don’t want to know your password.
“Students would come to me [and say], ‘I really don’t want to change this, and it’s a pain.’ We were being sympathetic to that; we should not be being sympathetic to that.”
Each employee hired by the IT department and TSC also goes through a background check. In addition to these measures, two external agencies will be working with the College. One agency will audit their IT operations. The other agency will perform a vulnerability scan to see if the security of the IT system is secure and up to date.
“This is to make sure we are at the top of our game, and to help us [with] any weakness,” said Davis. “We constantly have to have somebody looking over our shoulders to make sure that we are on the top of our game. We take very seriously the protection of the student accounts, and getting the students to take the time to set up their credentials and change their password.”
The new password requirements for students will call for a password that has an uppercase letter, a lowercase letter, as well as a number. It has to be at least eight characters long.
“Computer security is a collaborative effort. It is IT and students together,” said Patricia Dalessio, Director of the Technology Solutions Center.
“I know this may seem inconvenient,” Davis added. “But a message that I think needs to go out to the students is that this is critical. This is your life.”