By Jessica Allen
The University of Tennessee gets almost half a million attacks from
hackers in its computer systems each day, according to Brice Bible, the
Office of Information Technologys chief information officer.
Bible said these hackers occasionally come from all over the world and
try to get into computer systems at the university and sometimes they
Usually it is not damaging, he said. Once theyve hacked in, we find it,
stop it (and) close it off.
Bible said security has gained a lot of attention over the last four or
five years because computer systems at universities continue to become
faster and have more computing capability.
Its become a big topic because the Internet has become very, very fast
and universities have very, very fast connections to the Internet, he
The UT campus used to have between 20 and 30 megabits of Internet
connection, but Bible said students and faculty now have almost 10
gigabits, which is equivalent to 10,240 megabits, at their disposal.
The Educause Center for Applied Research reported colleges throughout
the nation have increased their use of security software and methods to
protect their confidential electronic data from intruders. UT has
responded to increased threats in the same manner.
OIT has taken several security measures over the past few years to help
ensure the protection of the networks and electronic data on campus.
Bible said another reason for increased security measures is because
technology experts from around the world have become more sophisticated
in tracking the movements of hackers.
The hackers are very sophisticated and their tools and abilities change
every day, so we have to work very hard to stay on top of that, he said.
(They) have figured out that they can use all this fast Internet and
resources at locations like universities for bad things, so its become
important for organizations to try to protect the information and the
assets they have.
One way OIT sought to protect information was by creating the
Information Security Office. They staffed the office with a group of
individuals who devote their time to helping users on campus keep their
The Head of the Information Security Office, Robert Ridenour, said they
were trying to be proactive and look for new ways to protect online
It is impossible to predict the next big threat, so we focus a lot of
our attention on protections, Ridenour said.
Numerous protection devices, such as firewalls and patches, have been
purchased for this reason. The office has also invested in intrusion
prevention systems that can detect if something out of the ordinary is
occurring and stop it immediately.
The purchase of protection software, however, is not new for the
What is new for the university is an aggressive campaign to find the
confidential information, even down to the department level, and help
university personnel protect it, Ridenour said.
He said OIT, along with information technology personnel from other
colleges in Tennessee, is developing policies and procedures to help
students, faculty and staff understand what they need to do to protect
We are trying to educate the users regarding safe practices, he said.
The group is also working to isolate and eliminate the use of sensitive
While OIT has taken steps to make the networks more secure, it is also
up to the students, faculty and staff at the university to protect their
Ridenour and Bible said members of the university community should make
sure their computers are patched, they are running their anti-virus
software, their personal firewall is activated and they are not sharing
Bible also encouraged suspicion of received e-mails.
OIT personnel are always around to help, so if you have an e-mail that
you believe to be threatening, you can send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and they
will look into it, he said. Dont just ignore it. If you think its really
something abusive, then send it to us because it might protect somebody
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