One password to rule them all

By Вen Li

Students returning to the University of Calgary this year will have a few less things to remember, thanks to a new on-line web portal which allows students to access multiple services with one password.

“Currently, students need a number of logins and passwords to gain IT access,” said U of C Information Technologies’ Gordon McDonald. “The concept of going to a single sign-on is to eliminate the need to know multiple usernames and passwords.”

Many popular university web sites requiring logins are available through the myUofC portal via an electronic ID. InfoNet, Webmail, Blackboard and Campus Recreation bookings are currently linked to the portal, while access to library book renewals and a half-dozen other services will come at the end of the year.

Because so much personal information is available from one location, McDonald says that portal users should be careful to remember to sign out of their portal sessions. On their end, the IT department have installed redundant and secure infrastructure, and tested systems extensively.

“We’re being extremely careful regarding security,” said McDonald.

Though the portal has been available to staff and faculty for over a year, it was only this summer that students were invited to start using the portal. Adding users in stages allowed the IT department to work out bugs in the portal before it was widely used.

“The portal infrastructure is quite strong as this is absolutely mission-critical along with administration systems revival and data warehousing,” said McDonald.

Users with existing logins will be able to use them for the foreseeable future, according to McDonald. While there are no plans to eliminate existing login systems for web-based applications that already exist, new web-based applications will likely rely entirely on user authentication from the portal.

“You can’t quantify the cost savings in general, but when it comes to application development, 30-40 per cent of the effort can be about developing security. Instead of putting the security model inside of software, you can have it inside the portal,” said McDonald.

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