Minutes: October 24, 2007


Report of the COMPUTING COMMITTEE meeting of Erindale College Council held on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 at 3:10 p.m. in the Ante Room, #3129, S.B.

Present: J. Lim (in the Chair), A. Wensley, D. Kreuger, C. Capewell, A. Vyas, C. Mejia, R. Gerlai, A. Akers, T. Al-Sarraj, J. Hu
Regrets: R. deSouza, S. Senese, J. Sills
In attendance: Kevin Lee, computing services manager, Rochelle Mazar, instructional technology liaison, Andrew Peterson, department of Mathematical and Computational Sciences

1. Minutes of the Previous Meeting (September 26, 2007)

They minutes of the previous meeting were approved.

2. Election of Chair

The Chair announced that his two year term as Chair of the Committee had come to an end and therefore members needed to elect a new Chair. He noted that he would be willing to serve another term as Chair of the Computing Committee. He opened the floor to nominations for a new Chair. Mr. Lim was nominated by Mr. Vyas and seconded by Professor Wensley to serve as Chair of the Computing Committee for another term. There being no further nominations, Mr. Lim was declared Chair of the committee for a two year term.

3. Report of officers:

a) Network security - Joe Lim, CIO

Mr. Lim distributed the draft network security document to members. It is attached hereto as Appendix A. He explained that one of the reasons for bringing forward the policy can be attributed to a recent incident, in which someone put a router on the server, which subsequently resulted in shutting down the entire system.

He noted that U of T Mississauga does not have a network security policy of its own, but has had to rely on a policy developed by CNS, which has not been updated since 2004 and places much of the responsibility in the hands of U of T Mississauga. Mr. Lim observed that due to the present large population of the campus, network security cannot be handled informally, hence the introduction of a formal policy. The premise of the document is that each member of the campus community is responsible for protecting a shared facility and that any devices on the server should have approval from computing services.

The policy defines security patches, states that all servers should have firewalls and gives guidelines on password usage. For example, UTORid’s must have 8 characters, consisting of both letters and numbers.

Mr. Lim noted that once feedback is received on the draft policy, he would bring it back to the Computing Committee for approval at a future meeting.

The Chair opened the floor to questions.

A member suggested that with respect to installing a wireless network in the research labs, perhaps departments could discuss cost sharing to accomplish this. He added that if the cost issue is not resolved, the campus would most likely continue to have interference such as the one cited above that caused problems with the server. Mr. Lim explained that wireless networks have only been funded for public areas and since the research labs are not considered public areas, there is no funding to install wireless service.

b) Data Encryption – Kevin Lee, Computing Services Manager

Mr. Lee reported that in approximately one year a commercial enterprise encryption application will be introduced. Until that time computing services is looking into how to help faculty and staff encrypt information. He noted that this would be one of the issues to be discussed at the Chief Information Officer’s operations committee. He reported that currently whole disk and policy based encryption software such as PointSec, Credant, and Disknet Pro are being evaluated. The first implementation environment will be in health care. Computing Services does not have a standard encryption method at this time and is currently waiting on the enterprise solution. Mr. Lee reported that Dell FDE has encryption methods built into the hardware; it is a hardware based complete encryption of the hard drive, which is a solution for laptops. On removal devices there is built-in encryption is available. For all other storage mediums, Truecrypt is suggested. He noted that faculty and staff are encouraged to contact computing services if they need any of the above data encryption services. This information will be made available on the computing services website.

4. New Business:

a) Blackboard implementation status report – Rochelle Mazar, Instructional Technology Liaison

Ms. Mazar provided a status report on blackboard implementation. She reported that the University of Toronto Mississauga implementation of Blackboard has grown so much so that by the end of last year, 70% of students were using the system. While the project management role remains with Ms. Mazar, she has begun to identify staff in each department to take on the role of a Blackboard administrator. At present, almost every department has someone local present, with three departments still to be addressed.

Ms. Mazar reported that Blackboard implementation has gone extremely well at U of T Mississauga, but that the servers posed a big challenge by being extremely slow throughout September. She noted that CNS was struggling to diagnose the problem, but it could be attributed to an update performed at the end of August. She explained that one of the consistent problems at present are updates from ROSI. As a result of this problem and the uncertainty of solutions, the implementation is lagging somewhat behind.

Ms. Mazar that the departmental staff contacts on Blackboard do not have the same job title, but consist of a mix of undergraduate coordinators and various other staff portfolios, which vary by department.

She pointed out that there were more courses running on Blackboard at U of T Mississauga than at Arts & Science. She listed the following website for obtaining help on Blackboard: www.portalinfo.utoronto.ca; she also noted that she would be producing help video and PowerPoint slides for first classes, both with target release dates of January of 2008.

The Chair opened the floor to questions.

A member suggested that creating a user group of faculty to share best practices would be helpful for users. Ms. Mazar noted that this was an idea that she has been wanting to implement and will do so as her time permits.

There was no further new business.

The Chair noted that the next meeting of the Committee was scheduled for Wednesday, November 21, 2007.

The meeting adjourned at 3:50 p.m.

Chair ________________________________ Secretary _______________________________