Task Force on Computer Security and Privacy Is Formed

Posted: November 22, 1999 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

To improve computer security and privacy at George Mason, Joy Hughes, vice president of Information Technology, has created a task force and has appointed Peter Denning of Computer Science as chair. Denning also is chair of the Security Review Panel, the faculty-staff-student panel that oversees the administration and interpretation of the university’s Responsible Use of Computing policy.

Working with the Security Review Panel, Hughes has compiled a list of 13 areas of concern related to computer security and privacy and has charged the task force with developing recommendations for addressing these concerns. Denning plans to submit the task force’s recommendations in March 2000.

On several occasions in the last two years, the university’s computer systems have been misused, Denning says. Two summers ago, a hacker destroyed the class projects of several students in the School of Information Technology and Engineering (IT&E). Hackers also have intercepted user passwords on the university’s network and used them to break into accounts. Spamming (the sending of unsolicited junk e-mail) is the most prevalent abuse of all, Denning says. The goal of the task force is to propose ways to deal with these problems within the scope of the current Responsible Use of Computing policy.

Denning is in the process of adding representatives from the Faculty Senate and the student body to the task force. So far, the task force includes Frank Blechman, Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution; Sandy Buckles, IT&E; Jim Finkelstein, The Institute of Public Policy; Wally Grotophorst, University Libraries; John Hanks, University Computing and Information Systems (UCIS); Richard Jackson, UCIS; Dave Jensen, UCIS; Anne Marchant, Computer Science; Ron Secrest, UCIS; and George Sokol, Department of Instructional Improvement and Instructional Technologies.

Status reports and requests for community input are available on the Security Review Panel website.

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