Checking Out Checkpoint
With the beginning of a new academic session, there have been several changes across the Institute. Of them, one of the most important changes is the shift from Cyberoam to Checkpoint. Team MM caught up with Prof. A.K. Turuk, to shed light on these recent developments and few other pressing issues.
Checkpoint vs. Cyberoam
When asked about the major advantages of Checkpoint over Cyberoam, Prof. Turuk said that the throughput of Checkpoint’s firewall, or its ability to filter and stop malicious connections and data packets, makes it far more reliable than the previously used Cyberoam. He said,
While Cyberroam used to take about 100,000 data packets per second and could filter only 50,000 users' packets, Checkpoint takes up 1 million packets and as a result, can filter a greater number of users’ packets at once.
Moreover, Checkpoint has stronger security measures that ensure better network trafficking by allowing the firewall to recognize and permit the use of only a single antivirus, i.e. the Checkpoint Antivirus.
Another interesting feature of Checkpoint is that it allows https scanning. Prof. Turuk says, “I plan on introducing https scanning in order to keep a record of what the students are doing.” However, these checks are unlikely to be a breach of individual privacy, since the content will be unavailable to anybody, and the records merely indicative of the nature of the activity that a person is involved in.
Prof. Turuk reassures us saying, “We won’t be tapping any specific information, but only monitoring the overall activities.” He said access to such information would be especially useful when it came to the hacking of accounts during elections, and the casting of unfair votes. Another incident involved the use of a student’s hacked account for mischievous activities, thus making this information necessary also from the point of view of an investigative agency. Prof. Turuk repeatedly urged the student community to not respond to any phishing mails that often results in such untoward events.
Checkpoint Antivirus Troubles
The mandatory installation of the Checkpoint Antivirus provided by the institute is proving to be particular unfair towards those students who have their own licensed antiviruses installed. Moreover, this software has no provision for Mac and Linux systems. On being questioned about these problems being faced by the student community, Prof. Turuk had said that the institute had purchased and provided an antivirus for the benefit of the larger populace.
While some students can afford to buy their own licensed antivirus, others cannot and that was the reason the institute has been providing one for the last ten years. Unfortunately, not more than 1000 people have been using it, out of which 350 are from the data centres and 250 are from the computers in various departments. This was the primary reason it was decided to make it mandatory to have the Checkpoint Antivirus installed to access internet.
He says, “I am sure the number of students who are having genuine antiviruses is very small when compared with those who are not using any. However, we are doing what we can to find an alternative way to accommodate those few students, but since the firewall has provisions of allowing only a single antivirus to pass, we will take some time to find a solution to this problem. The software was tried on a Mac system but the installation could not be successfully completed. We are currently trying to mitigate these problems as quickly as possible so all necessary steps can be taken at the time of laptop registration.”
Certain sites have always been blocked, thus disallowing students from using them. According to Prof. Turuk, any website, educational or otherwise which contains keywords, which are similar to that of any online gaming website are blocked and cannot be accessed.
He says, "The moment the word 'game' appears in any site, it is blocked."
However, he clarified that if any students have a genuine case of not being able to access a useful site then the matter should immediately be brought to his notice. He gave the example of entrepreneurs who work from within the campus and often face such problems. If these requests come through a proper channel, they can surely be addressed and the blocking can be bypassed. There are also websites which remain out of access because of port connectivity, and even those glitches can be solved in a similar fashion by communicating the same to the Computer Centre officials.
Internet Service Providers
Last year BSNL, Ortel and Reliance had the contracts for providing internet service in the institute. This year Reliances’ contract has been terminated and that of BSNL and Ortel has been prolonged. The bandwidth of Ortel has been increased by 10 times i.e. from 20 Mbps to 200 Mbps. In a statement said by Prof. Turuk, "Out of the allotted 1 Gbps, the current internet usage is around 500-600 Mbps as of now.
With the students coming in after the summer vacations and the freshers joining, the usage will increase by another 100 mbps. Even then, there will still be around 300 mbps of data which won't be utilised. He says, “There is absolutely no pressure on the bandwidth."
However, the speed is expected to fluctuate at times because the Checkpoint software hasn’t been stabilized completely, yet, and measures are being taken up to improve the situation, currently.
The last two and a half months have proven to be particularly hectic for Prof. Turuk, Dr. S. K. Patra, the chairman and the officials at the Data Centre who are trying to stabilize the Checkpoint software in order to suit the needs of the institute. Since this purchase was made for the next ten years, he says that it is important to manage the usage, properly. He requests students to not stream and watch movies online, but to avail video lecture facilities provided by ANKCTEL and NPTEL, instead.
On being asked about the follow-up with regard to the installation of double LAN ports in those single seater rooms which are being shared by two boarders in MV, VS, CVR and KMS Halls of Residence, Prof. Turuk said,
That plan is there in the pipeline; the number of LAN ports will surely be doubled. However, our most recent task involves setting up of LAN ports in SD Hall of Residence, where the rooms have none, as of now.
The work in the new blocks of SD Hall should start by the first week of August, and once it has been completed the requests of all other halls to double their LAN ports shall be taken up.
Team MM enquired about the expansion of Wi-Fi connectivity in Halls of Residence, besides MV and GDB, especially in those hostels where two boarders share a single LAN port.
Prof Turuk says, “There is a fund crunch due to which, we have decided that students will only be given wired Connections in their hostels. The Wi-Fi from GDB and MV will be removed once we have been able to double the LAN ports there, just like it was from DBA Hall of Residence.”
He said that previously he had been approached about an alumni-funded project that involved the setting up of Wi-Fi connectivity in some of the Halls of Residences. Since the fund crunch disallows the institute from providing all the halls with such facilities, he thinks that it would be more judicious to set up Wi-Fi hubs at major student junctions. “Once the Wi-Fi has been withdrawn from GDB and MV, I will strengthen the Wi-Fi connectivity in the Central Library, and in the future if such a project is brought to me I’ll use it to make areas like Hexagon, Student Activity Centre and other areas Wi-Fi connected.”