IT Department acquires new endpoint security

By Amelia Garza, Campus Reporter

Erin Brown
Columbia’s Information Technology Department stated in a Nov. 3 email that it has acquired a new security system.

Columbia students will now be safer and more secure while browsing the internet with college computers, according to Information Technology officials who acquired new a endpoint security software system.

A Nov. 3 collegewide email from the Infrastructure Team stated that it is replacing the college’s old anti-virus software with an endpoint security solution from Sophos, an information technology company, to better protect against malicious security attacks and create a better user experience.

“On a daily basis, we are faced with a constant stream of computer threats [that] can cause havoc on our ability to operate safely and securely,” the email stated. “Having a product like Sophos will allow a smoother and less disruptive experience for each of you.”

Sophos will allow the IT Department greater visibility and control over the endpoint environment and allows quicker and better treatment of harmful viruses, according to the email.

Matthew Curtin, founder of computer expert firm Interhack, said endpoint security is a broader and safer form of protection than firewalls or other past systems.

Curtin referred to firewalls as gates or checkpoints put in place to stop the flow of information inside a computer from reaching outside predators. He added that endpoint security checks more places for these issues.

“Endpoint security is about trying to protect the devices inside the organization rather than just securing the gate that leads to the inside of the organization,” he said.

Byron Nash, associate vice president of Technology Services, said in a Nov. 15 emailed statement sent through the News Office that the biggest security threats computers face are malicious software such as malware and ransomeware.

Nash said these threats are “created by both private and state actors who troll for data to sell, or for ransom money by encrypting data stored on computers.”

The biggest difficulty in protecting against such threats is that they are always evolving, Nash added. He said they have been written to mutate and change as to avoid being detected.

According to Curtin, a main issue with these threats is that malware gathers up sensitive information and uploads it to the predator’s server, all without the user’s knowledge, he added.

Sophos was installed on administrative staff, faculty, computer lab and library computers Nov. 9, 14 and 16. The Infrastructure Team email stated that Sophos will be installed in classrooms after these initial installations are completed. The email added that computer security is a crucial aspect of compliance requirements.

“Generally, federal regulatory requirements and laws in various states require the college, and all institutions which receive federal funding, to meet security standards,” Nash said.

Failure to do so could result in mandated penalties, he added.

R.J. Redline, a junior cinema art + science major, said he finds the idea of having to acquire a stronger security system unnerving.

“It’s slightly disturbing that we require it at all, but it’s proper time for it,” Redline said. “People are taking advantage of each other on the internet with Malware more, so it’s good we have it.”