Monday, February 23, 2009

Blackboard Security, UMBC

A couple items that instructors using Blackboard at UMBC should be aware of: First, at the beginning of most sessions when one is preparing to post new content, a requester pops up asking for permission to run a Java application. The correct answer is, emphatically, no. Everything works fine if you deny that application permission to run, so there's no need to grant it complete and total access to your PC (or to your account on the PC which, for most Windows users, is the same as the PC itself). Second, OIT often refers to Blackboard as a secure place to post grades. In some respects this is true. However, be aware that the grades are transfered in the clear, so anyone eavesdropping can see all the grades of everyone in your class. On campus this is probably a minimal problem for wired users. It's a switched Ethernet, and hard to eavesdrop on. The campus wireless is not encrypted however, so accessing a Blackboard grade book using 802.11 on campus is not secure. By the same token, accessing a blackboard grade book from off campus is not secure.

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