Cardiff U Identity Project Widens Access to Campus Systems

Cardiff University in Wales is leading an effort to persuade universities across the U.K. to share research on each other's campus online activity as a way help fight online fraud, hackers, and malicious software attacks.

Cardiff's Identity Project involves a survey 600 universities and colleges in the U.K. to find out how they prevent unauthorized access to their systems and whether they have sufficient security to increase access to their systems.

One goal of the project is to get more universities to join the U.K.'s Access Management Federation, which allows members to share and view certain research and information on each other's internal IT systems. Currently, fewer than 100 universities are members of the Federation.

"We are trying to find out how prepared universities and colleges are to join the federation and then we have to put a program in place to facilitate that,'' said David Harrison, assistant director of information services at Cardiff,  who is leading the project.

Users would not have open access to all information and research on another university or college's computer system, just the parts that are relevant to them, said Harrison, who also chairs the University and College Information Systems Association for the UK.

"We are saying we will get identity management sorted out," he added. "Access would be made easier but not universal. It would put procedures in place to validate that someone is who they say they are."

Christine Urquhart, a senior lecturer in the IT department at University of Wales, Aberystwyth, said professors were worried about hackers getting into research, but added, "I think this project is a good idea. We need to be more open."

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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