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Centralized log-in system aims to increase security

Students now have the capability to log in to different web applications with a single log-in.

“It’s one centralized login page now,” freshman electrical engineering major Anton Volkov, a consultant at the HelpDesk said. “Currently both B-mail and Sakai use the same password.”

He also said the centralized login system will expand to myBU and Webster.

Director of System Integration and Security David Scuffham said the system changed to give students’ accounts extra security and single sign-on functionality.

“When we [Computing Services at Bradley] first started writing web applications, every app. had its own authentication front end, which usually queried BUnetID to check if the username and password credentials were correct,” Scuffham said.

Scuffham attended a conference in May 2008 where Yale University presented a central authentication service (CAS) they had developed.

“In addition to how secure it was, it had the benefits of single sign-on, which many people at Bradley had been wanting for years,” Scuffham said. “It’s less work for the programmer and it allows third party apps.”

Scuffham said he had a test version of CAS running at Bradley in June 2008 that authenticated against BUnetID. It wasn’t until summer 2009 when Computing Services began using CAS in production with many of the newer web apps that were being written.

“Since then we have been transitioning more web apps. to use CAS,” Scuffham said. “Depending on how a web app. implements authentication, sometimes it only takes a few minutes or hours to make it work with CAS.”

Implementing the changes only took a few hours, but Scuffham said weeks of testing were involved.

Students said they still experienced a few problems.

“Originally, students had bookmarked, but with the new system the URL stopped working and did not direct students to the correct site,” Volkov said. “But now it’s fixed and should work for everybody.”

Senior dietetics major Lauren Delfield said she noticed that after logging on to B-mail and Sakai using the single sign-on function, she would be logged out of Sakai when her computer restarted but would keep her logged on to B-mail.

“It would be cool to have one page with all the sites we needed,” she said. “Even with the centralized login, you still have to find the separate websites you need.”

Despite initial problems, students said they were happy with the change.

“It’s pretty convenient because of how annoying it was to login to Sakai and B-mail separately,” freshman biology major Mia Savino said. “It wasn’t a really big deal to do that before, but it’s nice not to have to do it now.”

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