Despite continued threats to security, there is some good news on the state of campus computing. According to a 2006 survey, open source and wireless technologies are becoming more ubiquitous and that's a good thing, reports Inside Higher Ed.
The annual survey by the Campus Computing Project, found that network and data security are the top concerns for the third straight year. This was followed by instructional integration of information technology and upgrading and replacing campus administrative information systems. The responses were gathered from IT officials at 540 colleges and universities.
The good news is that the survey shows that fewer campuses reported security incidents and threats in 2006. Even thefts of computers containing confidential data and hacks of campus networks declined by a few percentage points, while reports of major virus or spyware infestations fell sharply.
The bad news is that with the emergence of social networking sites institutions reported security issues related to "the exposure of sensitive data on a computer server not managed by central IT services."
"Research labs, as well as some academic departments and service units, often want to manage their own data and hardware," said Kenneth Green of the Campus Computing Project. "But the survey data confirm recent news reports that network servers not managed by central IT services may be particularly vulnerable to hackers."
Colleges continue to implement wireless networks, with more than two-thirds of all campuses having a plan in place for deploying wireless technology by this fall.
Open Source technology also have continued campus support with more than half of respondents saying they believed open source tools and applications would "play an increasingly important role in our campus IT strategy." One third of IT officials said they viewed open source as a "viable alternative for key campus [administrative computing] applications."