Written by: Mahdi Dialden, News Writer

SFU has prepared a new Virtual Private Network (VPN) service ready to launch in September. This will allow students to connect directly to SFU servers and enables them to send and receive data that they could only access by being at SFU.

The VPN is being introduced because of the shift to remote learning. Chief Information Officer Mark Roman explained in an interview with The Peak, “Some of the things folks wanted to do with our existing services, they couldn’t do.” For instance, “if [students] have a laptop that requires updates, [they] would’ve had to be on campus,” Roman said. SFU is preparing an announcement for students, which will have a thorough explanation of how to use it. 

The university is preparing for a remote fall semester, which may mean a busy time for support staff. In preparation for this rise in traffic, there will be “more staff at the service desk, and longer hours at the service desk as well,” Roman explained. 

IT services will also be adding multi-factor authentication (MFA) to the VPN. Roman explained that MFA is an added precaution during login, which is seen all over the web. It will require your user ID and password and something additional, which you would likely get from a device — such as a phone through a text. In the situation where a “password is phished or compromised, it would prevent a [hacker] to use [your] system.

“Our strategy at SFU for IT is what we call ‘the one IS vision,’ where all of our systems should work together in a seamless fashion, and all the people that support those systems should work together in a seamless fashion,” Roman said. 

The introduction of VPN is a first in a series of new advancements that the IT department at SFU is unveiling for the future. “One of the big things that [we’re] introducing [is] Microsoft teams. [It] will provide us with the capability to improve collaboration,” Roman added. This will allow them to use OneDrive which will give the ability to “concurrently update and work on documents together as groups.”

Roman also said that they are planning to “introduce a research administration system for the whole university that will reduce the administrative burden for researchers at the university [and] improve workflows and help improve the overall efficiency of how we administer research at the university.”

Roman concluded, “IT has been absolutely central to keeping everything going [ . . . ] There’s over 400 IT people at this university who have been working really hard day and night to keep all these services going. A big thanks to everybody in it, who’s kept the university running.”