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Campus Computing News

Who Are You?
Computer User Identification at UNT

By Dr. Maurice Leatherbury, Associate Vice President for Computing and Chief Technology Officer, CITC

To many people on the UNT campus, there seems to be a bewildering number of ways that they have to make themselves known to the computers that they use in their everyday work. Here are the most common login identifications that UNT users encounter:

·        Novell network login – this is the identification that you use to get access to UNT’s network on a daily basis. In addition to your user name, you must use your Novell password to get into your computer.

·        GroupWise login – some users must enter a user ID and password to get access to UNT’s official faculty and staff e-mail system, GroupWise, particularly if they’re working from home or access GroupWise over the Web

·        “EUID” – this is UNT’s Enterprise User IDentification, which usually takes the form of “MCL0002” (your initials and a number). The EUID is used to authenticate to the Enterprise Information System (EIS), Eaglenet (our wireless network), the Library’s online databases, WebCT, our computer based training systems, Eaglemail (the student e-mail system), and Web-based student storage. A password must also be entered to get access to these systems, and that password is different from the Novell one unless you specifically assign the same password to each system.

·        “EMPLID” – the EMPLoyee IDentification number that is assigned by EIS to each person in the system. You generally don’t need the EMPLID to log in to any system, but you do sometimes need it to access your record(s) in EIS. The EMPLID is the number that is printed on your UNT photo ID card, although a recent ruling by UNT’s attorneys may result in the EMPLID being removed from future ID cards.

Why?

You’re probably wondering by now why we have so many digital identities and why we have to remember so many passwords. The simple answer is that each of the systems described above stores its own user ID’s and passwords and thus you must supply that system’s credentials to access it. We’ve done a lot of work to hide the complexities of different authentication systems from UNT’s computer users, work that for example automatically logs you into the Cognos reporting system if you’re already logged into UNT’s portal (http://my.unt.edu) But we’ve only been able to go so far in shielding our users from multiple logins, hence the various logins described above.

The “holy grail” of authentication systems at many institutions and businesses is “single sign on”,  meaning that you only have to log in only once and your login credentials are supplied by your local computer to any system from that point on that needs to know your identification. If we could reach that goal at UNT, the EUID would be our preferred credential since it’s stored on a system that uses open standards (“LDAP”, for those who care) and is easier for programmers to write code for than Novell’s system. But it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to use a single user ID and password for Novell, GroupWise, and the various systems that attach to your EUID because of the complexities of the Novell system, which is arguably one of the more secure systems in use today. However, there is some hope for the beleaguered computer user at UNT, at least as far as having to remember user ID’s and passwords is concerned.

Your future may be synchronized

We have been working for literally years to make it possible to synchronize Novell login ID’s with EUID’s so that the password for those two ID’s at least could be synchronized. That requires that we know, for example, that “mauricel” in Novell’s directory refers to the same person as “MCL0002” in the EUID directory, and it’s surprising how difficult that seemingly simple matchup has proven to be. Automated attempts to match them (on the user’s name, for example,) have resulted in about 60% of the user identities being matched, but that’s not good enough for us to start synchronizing passwords on only two-thirds of our users. To improve the matches, we recently asked everyone to verify their identification when they changed their passwords in the EUID system, but we still can’t match about 15% of the users in the Novell directory. And while you might be thinking that a solution would be to change either the Novell user ID (“mauricel”) or the EUID name (“MCL0002”) to match them, neither of those systems allow the “key value” (name) to change once it’s initially created.

This summer, we’ll be asking the network managers to work with the CITC to finish the task of matching all Novell accounts with users in the EUID system, at which time you’ll be able to change your password and have that change reflected in both the Novell login and any login that relies upon your EUID. While you’ll still have to remember to use your Novell login to get started each morning and your EUID to get logged into the UNT portal, etc., you’ll only have to remember one password. We’re hoping that that step will convince everybody on campus that they don’t have to resort to taping their passwords to the bottom of their keyboards in order to remember them!


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