Curtin Uni pushes VPN to mitigate Swine Flu risk

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Curtin Uni pushes VPN to mitigate Swine Flu risk

Curtin University CIO Peter Nikoletatos has asked faculty staff to download a VPN client on their home computers as part of a contingency plan against a Swine Flu pandemic.

The spread of Swine Flu, which now numbers over one thousand infections in Australia, has forced CIOs around the globe to adjust their business continuity plans.

Nikoletatos said the Swine Flu is particularly troubling to Universities as academic staff are constantly travelling to domestic and international locations (the United States and Victoria among them, he said), whilst lecture theatres often squeeze 500-odd students into the same room.

"Swine Flu is problematic," Nikoletatos told the Australian Industry Group's Digital Technologies Summit yesterday.

"We had to consider, could we effectively carry on teaching if we shut down the campus? Is the whole program available online? The answer - absolutely not."

Curtin University's crisis management team has subsequently put together a plan - of which the IT department's first port of call was to encourage staff to download a VPN client for secure remote access to University resources.

Curtin staff and students have had a VPN client available to them for some time for access to shared drives.

But most staff have neglected to download it as "they feel they have all that's necessary to them at home via web access to email and calendaring on our portal," the CIO said.

Nikoletatos said he hasn't mandated the download of the VPN client, but has sent out a "reasonably prescriptive" letter to encourage its use.

"We have written to them saying, we need to prepare ourselves to be a more flexible working environment," he told iTnews.

"The key is to provide guidance, to communicate. To say - Curtin recognises you are mobile, and working from home doesn't always count as a sick day."

Nikoletatos said the letter enables Curtin to "pseudo-test the ability to have staff teleworking".

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