Policies

Administrative Rights

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Users are generally not permitted to have administrative rights on NDSU CEA equipment.

There are very few situations where administrative rights are required to operate CEA systems. If you are prevented from completing required tasks, check with us. We can usually fix the problem, assist you in installing authorized software or modify your user rights to accommodate any problems encountered.

All CEA Technicians are required to remove unauthorized administrative rights from the accounts of any local users they encounter. If you do not have permission for administrative rights from the CEA Tech Support department (in writing), expect to lose them. If you do have permission, it may be revoked if a solution to your specific need is found. Possessing administrative rights does not imply permission to circumvent NDUS or NDSU policy.

Reasoning

Here are some of the many reasons for this policy to remain in effect:

Virus, Malware, Spyware mitigation:

Hackers are learning to exploit every weakness and overcome many hurdles placed in their way. You may be visiting a trusted website, but is that website secure? If the site has been compromised, they may be unknowingly spreading malicious software to visitors. Many unwanted and potentially destructive programs are installed WITH a user’s permission. Permission buttons are disguised to look like many common Windows dialog boxes or familiar programs and once you press the OK button (which may even be disguised as the Close (X)button, Cancel button, or the entire window), who knows what you’ve just authorized. If your user account doesn’t have the necessary rights to install software, for the most part, neither will the bad guys.

Regular Backups:

All users who log in locally with administrative rights are not logging into the domain. Logging into the local machine usually means you are saving your files to the local hard drive(s) and not the domain file stores. Except for a few cases, CEA Tech Support does not back up any files on the local hard drives. If (or when) your computer fails, you run the risk of losing all of your data. Your important data is your responsibility, be sure it is backed up.

Software Clutter:

Restricting the ability to add software to your computer keeps it free from performance robbing “utilities” and reduces the potential for licensing or policy violations. While there many useful software utilities available on the Internet, many more are malicious or include undesirable side effects. If you do need software installed, just let us know.

File security:

Users with administrative rights can view, edit or delete any or all files on a machine, including system files. This right circumvents the rights of all other users on the machine. If a user has unrestricted access to all files on a machine, there is an increased risk of hackers, viruses, malware or spyware also gaining access to those files.

PC Stability and Security:

A user or malicious program with administrative rights can do almost anything to the files or configuration of a computer, including actions that could bypass or remove security measures, or render a system unusable. The access levels of a typical user will, for the most part, not allow malware or hackers to disable a system or change settings.

Network Stability, Licensing and Security:

Having admin rights allow users to install and run network unfriendly (and possibly illegal) programs like P2P. These types of applications are not permitted per NDSU and NDUS policy. CEA Tech also assures all programs are properly licensed.

Technology Procurement and utilization

The NDSU College of Engineering and Architecture Technical Support Department is available to assist faculty, staff and students in selecting and procuring hardware, software and technology services that are to be used within and/or supported by the College of Engineering and Architecture.

Please contact the CEA Technical Support Department prior to obtaining any NDSU owned or supported hardware or software. Failure to utilize our services may result in delays in implementation or denial of service; it could even result in your new purchase being incompatible with its intended use.

Hardware

All equipment that is to be connected to the CEA network or servers must be authorized by the CEA Technical Support Department prior to its connection.

All computing equipment will be installed, configured and maintained by members of the CEA tech support team assuring compliance with CEA, NDSU and NDUS policies.

Software

Users are restricted from installing software packages on NDSU owned equipment and must contact the CEA Technical Support Department for assistance.

The CEA Technical Support Department maintains a list of approved software packages and can assist you in acquiring licensing.  The CEA Technical Support Department will attempt to maintain all licenses on our servers. If you need an application that requires a license server, please contact us prior to ordering to assure compatibility and for installation and configuration.

It is our intention to verify proper software licensing on all NDSU owned equipment. Software will not be installed if licensing cannot be obtained or verified.

Software licensed to NDSU will not be installed on personal equipment.

Minimum requirements for new Hardware

Newly acquired hardware that is to be configured and supported by the NDSU College of Engineering and Architecture Technical Support Department must meet minimum levels of performance and compatibility.

While there are always bargains to be found at discount stores and online retailers, you will get what you pay for. These low-end machines use surplus parts and include home versions of software and drivers, many times, drivers are not even available for Windows XP Pro, which is still our required operating system. They usually include older, slower processors and memory, off brand motherboards and proprietary designs that require replacement parts to be purchased from the original company. They will usually not meet the recommended standards for many software packages used within the college.

Processor

Intel Core i7, Core 2 Quad, Core i5 and some Core i3 and Core2 Duo processors possess the necessary power to provide exceptional performance at a reasonable price. AMD, Intel Pentium, some Intel Core2 Duo, and lower processors are no longer acceptable.

Memory (RAM)

A minimum of 2GB memory should be specified, 4GB is recommended.

Note: 32 bit operating systems cannot address more than 4GB of total memory due to design limitations. Adding additional RAM (more than 4GB) to the machine will be a waste of resources. If additional RAM is required, you may want to consider obtaining a High End Workstation.

Drives

A 250GB hard drive or more is recommended. A DVDRW/CDRW drive is required.

Expandability

There are multiple non compatible expansion slots available today. Know what expansion cards will be added to a system and verify that the proper additional ports exist prior to ordering a new PC. Many computers have their own proprietary case designs that require half-height expansion cards, or non-standard power supplies or other components. Many case designs and motherboards do not include space for additional components. Some cases designs have proprietary drives that cannot be replaced except with components from the original manufacturer.

Form Factor

Standard Desktop PC

Most computers provided for faculty, staff and student use will be standard desktop PCs. Standard desktop PCs provide the best in value, performance, maintenance options, and are easily upgradable.

Laptop PC

Laptop PCs can be utilized as an alternative to or in addition to the standard desktop PC when portability is a must.

While laptops can perform most of the same functions as a desktop, they are typically much lower powered when compared to the same hardware levels in desktops.

Laptops have a higher initial cost and are more difficult and expensive to maintain.

CEA Technical Support discourages the use of laptops as permanent desktop PCs.

Netbook

Netbooks are quickly becoming the tool of choice for quick, portable access to the web and email, however, they are very limited in their performance and functionality. Their underpowered processors will not yield the same results as a laptop and the smaller keyboards and screens may make some tasks uncomfortable or even impossible.

While Netbooks can be useful as an addition to the desktop or laptop, they should not be considered as a replacement, especially if additional software packages are to be installed.

High-End Workstation

A High-End Workstation is warranted only in cases where extreme computing power is required. This would typically be a machine that will run calculations or simulations that could take days, weeks, or months on a standard desktop.

High-End Workstations will have the fastest processors available or multiple processors, large quantities of RAM and a 64 bit operating system.

The software used on these workstations are expanded versions that utilize the additional computing power and may require additional and/or special licensing.

This type of computer can be very expensive.

Server

Servers are machines that are configured to provide services to other machines. A server could occupy the role of application, file, print, web, license, or mail server.

A server is typically designed as a high performance machine with special versions of the operating system and redundant components.

Due to security, maintenance, and environmental considerations NDUS policy states that all servers are to be located in a locked and controlled location. For the College of Engineering and Architecture, this is CEA 103.

All servers must be authorized by the NDSU ITS department and the department purchasing the server. Rogue or unsecure servers will be detected, located and disabled by NDSU ITS personnel.

Operating Systems

Windows XP Professional 32 bit

Windows XP Professional 32 bit is the official operating system (OS) for the NDSU College of Engineering and Architecture. Windows XP Pro is a proven OS that works well with most approved software packages and remains relatively secure when properly maintained.

Windows Vista

Windows Vista has not been (and will not be) approved for use on the CEANDSU domain and will not be added as a member of the domain.

Windows 7

Windows 7 has not yet been approved for use on the CEANDSU domain. Server upgrades and changes are currently being worked on and will be needed before we are ready for Windows 7. New Hardware with Windows 7 will be approved on a limited basis when necessary.

Linux/UNIX

Linux/UNIX is generally not approved for desktop use and will not be supported. Dual boot systems are not permitted and will not be approved. If Linux is absolutely necessary, a separate machine should be considered.

64 Bit Operating Systems

Hardware and software must be created to be compatible with 64 bit operating systems. Most all older hardware and software packages will only work in a 32 bit environment. While 64 bit applications are gaining in numbers, many applications and drivers are still only available in 32 bit.

64 bit operating systems should only be used in High End Workstations or in special cases where the current and future needs of the system have been fully evaluated and shown to benefit from the 64 bit architecture.

Warranty

DakTech currently includes a 7 year warranty. Dell business class PCs will usually come standard with a 3 year warranty. Most bargain priced PC’s will only include a 1 year limited warranty, and they will need it the most.

The CEA Technical Support Department requires at least a 3 year warranty to be purchased on all new hardware.