It’s not enough for a business, community or school to get computers — it must keep them all working together, and at the University of Iowa it’s a 24-hour job. Mike Meister is director of Telecommunications and Network Services at the University of Iowa. He says while some schools give out computers to their students, the U of I does not, and isn’t seeing a need for that. In talking with students, he says many aren’t interested in getting a PC or laptop computer from the school — they’d like to choose their own. That presents quite a challenge for the staff that runs a network linking them all on campus. There are so many makes, models and types by different manufacturers using different standards and technology it makes it tough to support everything, but Meister says most students and faculty find their computers work on the net and are satisfied. In recent years downloads of music have posed a problem for network administrators trying to keep up with demand for capacity, but Meister says that’s less a problem now. He says keeping the network running is a fulltime job. He adds it’s a 24-hour-a-day job. Students come after paying tgood money and he tries to see that the network’s the best possible for them. Meister says while some download files so large they’re measured in gigabits, most never come near the school’s limits on capacity. Meister says while the net can handle demand by computer users, it CAN be threatened when those users expose it to a computer virus. They aren’t necessarily malicious attacks, rather students have somehow picked up a virus and their computer could introduce it to the entire network with its 30-thousand connected “ports.” A damaging bit of software in the form of a worm or virus program could do a great amount of harm once it gets into the entire university computer network, Meister says. The impacts of lost time, compromised data, researchers’ work lost…he says they don’t want that kind of damage from a virus propagating itself on the network.
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