The College relies on Computing Services and its network security measures to protect thousands of devices and terabytes of data on campus, Nyman said.
"We've recently implemented new security policies throughout the whole college that we're going to be implementing over a two-year period," he said. "It's pretty extensive."
The new policies match regulatory requirements and standard industry practice, Nyman said. Under the new policy, Computing Services will undertake risk assessment procedures to make sure that the most critical and confidential data are protected at the highest level. Among other initiatives, the policy includes whole-disk encryption for laptops, which are high-risk.
The new configuration procedures for Dartmouth Secure wireless, which were effective beginning Jan. 9, are aimed at making Internet access easier to use and more reliable. Nyman said he hopes it will lead to increased usage of Dartmouth Secure rather than Dartmouth Public, since the latter is unsecured and unencrypted.
The Identity and Access Management Initiative works toward streamlining identification of users on the College's network, according to Nyman. This initiative will improve security because unique identities allow for more secure authentication to access online College resources.
Computing Services promotes maximum information security while allowing community members to fully access the College's networks. As part of this effort, Computing Services cooperates with peer institutions, such as Cornell University, in cases of particularly difficult viruses or malware, Computing Services' network services director Frank Archambeault said.
"We have a lot of contact with our peers to understand what vulnerabilities they're seeing and what tools they're using so we can make decisions about what vulnerabilities we need to be looking out for," Archambeault said.
The College also communicates with other institutions in groups and via listservs to alert one other about new issues and collectively find solutions.
Computing Services already works to secure Dartmouth's networks with automated scans for potential areas of attack.
Some of the tools shut down resources that may have been compromised to prevent viruses from spreading through the network, Nyman said.
"We do vulnerability scanning, and that will turn up potential holds on our vulnerability that we need to address, and then we address those as soon as we find them," Nyman said.
The challenges to network security lie in the need for openness that is the standard for universities, according to computer science professor David Kotz. The College's network is largely open to the Internet, which allows for security attacks from anywhere in the world. If students, faculty and staff shift toward using more secure systems, it will improve overall security, Kotz said.
"The bulk of the network that students, faculty and staff access for everyday use is controlled to be accessed only by Dartmouth people," he said. "That helps to maintain network security for all of us."
Certain aspects of the network, such as administrative systems and other sensitive systems, are more carefully protected against threats. Users must secure their own devices, be wary of their Internet use and pick more secure passwords, Kotz said.
"I would encourage every user, students included, to be aware of the need for securing their own computers," he said. "The network itself can only do so much and in the end, much of it boils down to securing your own computer."