ClearPass no longer required when using UNF Wi-Fi

Carter Mudgett, Editor in Chief

Personal devices connecting to the University of North Florida’s Wi-Fi network are no longer required to download ClearPass OnGuard — an authorization service — the university announced Monday. 

Historically difficult-to-use, UNF students have voiced their concerns for ClearPlass multiple times in the past, as many experienced problems with connecting altogether. 

ClearPass was originally implemented because there had been significant issues with viruses and malware entering students’ devices after they joined the network in the past, according to ITS Vice President and Chief Information Officer Brian Verkamp and Chief Information Security Officer Jeff Durfee.

However, when students returned to campus during the Fall 2021 semester, they were met with significant issues. The IT desk on the first floor of the UNF library usually had a line of students attempting to connect to the Wi-Fi.

A whiteboard reads "Trying to connect to UNF Wireless?" with three steps for how to download ClearPass OnGuard
A dedicated whiteboard by the UNF library’s front desk instructing students on how to download ClearPass OnGuard and connect to the Wi-Fi during the Fall 2021 semester. Numerous students questioned the safety of the authentication service and opted to use UNF’s visitor Wi-Fi instead. (Amelia Simmons)

“I had an instance where I was in class and missed the attendance questions because I was in a fistfight with the Wi-Fi for half of the class,” UNF student Grace Donnellan told Spinnaker. 

In February, UNF Information Technology Services (ITS) said that if ClearPass were no longer functioning, IT would look for a replacement better suited to the needs of the campus. 

It seems that day has arrived. 

“No changes to personal devices are needed at this time,” according to an Osprey Update email released to UNF students, faculty and staff Monday morning. “Devices should also keep automatic system updates turned on and installed and run an antivirus program to mitigate potential threats.”

Hoping to “streamline the connectivity process” between users and the network, ITS is now recommending that personal devices continue to run a supported operating system with firewalls enabled. 

It is unclear whether UNF will replace ClearPass OnGuard with another authentication service or not. 

Spinnaker reached out to UNF for a statement and they gave the following response on behalf of UNF ITS:

“The University of North Florida takes student, faculty and staff data security very seriously. We are always evaluating and working to find the best balance of protecting critical data and resources while ensuring systems are as accessible and easy to use as possible. After evaluating the overall University security environment, listening to feedback from the UNF community and investigating industry trends, we decided to remove the requirement for all personal devices to install a ClearPass OnGuard client. Information Technology Services will continue to monitor the overall health and security of the systems at UNF while evaluating the ever changing information security landscape. As the threats to UNF data and resources change, new policies or processes may be required to help ensure the integrity, privacy and security of University systems.”


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