News, Science and Technology

Cloud system opens for campus use

This fall, three cloud-based data systems – Box, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive – will all be available to students, faculty and staff free of charge. Box is the only to have been released. Google and Microsoft OneDrive will be offered later in the semester.

Cloud storage enables users to store and manage content within a secure online setting, share files, and collaborate with individuals and groups. This eliminates the need for tedious emails between lab partners, classmates and coworkers and allows users to upload, edit and share content simultaneously inside a protected environment.

The cloud rollout is in response to students and faculty’s needs for safe and secure storage on-the-go, said Cristina Sotolongo, director of communications for UM’s IT department.

Each storage option offers different capabilities.

According to Sotolongo, Box has 25 GB of free space and is recommended for storing secure data because it is highly encrypted, which is converted data to prevent unauthorized access. Google Drive, which is similar to Google Docs, allows users to store information in one place and make edits that are instantly saved. OneDrive offers a terabyte of space per person, which is helpful for large media files such as films.

While editing files offline, changes made using these systems will immediately sync and be uploaded. Users can recall information almost instantaneously and store information from their hard drive.

The mobile and desktop versions of Box, Google Drive and OneDrive will be available as each system is officially released.

Because of the cloud’s capacity for bulk data storage in a web-accessible format, sensitive information can be backed up at all times without cluttering space on a laptop’s hard drive. Users’ secure cloud information can then be accessed from any computer with Internet access.

Junior Austin Kallman is “skeptical about the security of the cloud,” citing recent security deficits, such as Heartbleed, which resulted in the theft of secure information from a variety of websites in April.

The Heartbleed bug allows hackers to infiltrate and read the memory of the systems stored using vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL, a commonly used encryption software.

“I will be using the cloud because of its ease and accessibility, but I won’t be uploading any sensitive or personal material,” Kallman said.

Sotolongo said that all the programs offered to the university community take precautions when it comes to privacy.

“All of these services offer end-to-end security that exceeds our own on-premise storage offerings or consumer counterparts like Dropbox,” she said.

Since users must log in securely with their CaneID and password, UM can maintain a “consistently high standard for password strength, data retention and management across all devices, including mobile,” Sotolongo said.

The University will be encrypting the files during transit, and specifically in the case of Box, the files are also encrypted “at rest” during storage.

More information about these storage solutions and directions to access them will be distributed via UMail.

Info Box

Students and faculty can use their CaneID and password to access their Box accounts at Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive will be released later in the fall semester.

September 14, 2014


David O'Connell

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