The 2005 National Survey of Information Technology|
in US Higher Education
Growing Campus Concern About IT Security;
Slow Progress on IT Disaster Planning
Campus IT officials identify “network and data security” as the “single most important IT issue affecting their institution over the next two-three years” according to new data from the annual Campus Computing Survey. Almost one-third (30.4 percent) of the 2005 survey respondents typically campus CIOs, CTOs, or other senior campus IT officers cite network and data security as the most important IT issue currently confronting their institutions, up from one-fifth (21.2 percent) in 2004. IT security concerns are highest among campus officials in public four-year colleges, where more than two-fifths (44.1 percent) view network and data security as the most important IT issue for their institutions, compared to about one-third of the CIOs in public and private universities, and one-fifth in private four-year colleges and in community colleges.
A new item on the 2005 Campus Computing questionnaire reveals that fully half (50.7 percent) the institutions participating in the 2005 survey experienced hacks or attacks on their campus networks in the past academic year, two-fifths (41.2 percent) report major spyware infestations during the 2004/05 academic year, while one-third (35.2 percent) experienced major virus infestations at their institutions. Additionally, a fifth (19.6) of the institutions participating in the 2005 survey report major security incidents involving identity management. The security incidents of network attacks, identity management, and virus infections were generally higher in public and private universities than in other sectors.
“The survey data go beyond the sporadic news articles about IT security incidents at individual colleges and universities,” says Kenneth C. Green, founding director of The Campus Computing Project and a visiting scholar at The Claremont Graduate University. “The data confirm that network and data security are a major concerns for campus IT officials across all sectors of American higher education. The 2005 data also document a major shift in campus IT priorities from instructional integration to security and ERP/infrastructure issues.”
Surprisingly, four years after the September 2001 attacks and the then very public discussions about the importance of IT disaster recovery plans, only three-fifths (57.4 percent) of campuses report a strategic plan for IT disaster recovery, little changed from 2004 (55.5 percent) or even 2002 (53.0 percent). Green comments that “the Hurricane Katrina and Rita experiences earlier this year, coupled with the growing concerns about IT security, should be a reminder to all colleges and universities to complete, or to update, their IT disaster plans.”
Data from the 2005 survey show continuing improvements in campus IT budgets. Just one-sixth (15.5 percent) of the campuses participating in this year’s survey report budget cuts in academic computing, compared to one-fourth (24.3 percent) in 2004, two-fifths (41.3 percent) in 2003, and one-third (32.6 percent) in 2002. In contrast, more than two-fifths (44.3 percent) of the campuses participating in the 2005 survey report increased funding for academic computing this year, up from 37.9 percent in 2004 and 26.9 percent in 2003.
As in past years, private colleges and universities seemed to do a bit better with IT budgets than their public counterparts: fully half (50.0 percent) of private universities report increased funding for academic computing 2005 (up from 41.2 percent in 2004), compared to 40.0 percent of public universities (up from 31.9 percent in 2004). More than half (53.2 percent) the private four-year colleges report increased funds for academic computing this year (up from 47.4 percent in 2004), compared to two-fifths (38.2 percent) of public four-year colleges (up from 24.0 percent in 2004). Between 2004 and 2005 there was virtually no change in the proportion of community colleges reporting increased funds for academic computing (about 37 percent).
“While tech budgets, and by extension, campus technology investments and initiatives, still feel the cumulative effects from three years of significant budget cuts between 2000 and 2003, the 2005 survey data provide important evidence of major improvements and much-needed stabilization in campus IT funding” says Green.
Given campus concerns about IT security, it is not surprising that network security received more funding this year. Almost two-thirds (64.4 percent) of the surveyed institutions report gains in their IT security budgets, up from three-fifths (59.5 percent) in 2004. The 2005 survey data also reveal gains in the proportion of campuses reporting increased funds for ERP upgrades/replacements (44.4 percent in 2005, compared 38.4 percent in 2004), network server purchases (41.4 percent this year compared to 38.8 percent last year), and user training and support (26.1 percent, compared to 23.5 percent in 2004).
The 2005 survey documents the continuing institutional efforts to stem the unauthorized, peer-to-peer (P2P) distribution of digital content on campus networks. Four-fifths (81.0 percent) of the institutions participating in this year’s survey report “appropriate use” policies, up from three-fourths (76.3 percent) in 2004 and two-thirds (66.2 percent) in 2003. The 2004 data show gains in “appropriate use” policies across all sectors. For example, 88.2 percent of public research universities report “appropriate use” policies in 2005, up from 80.9 percent in 2003; among private universities, the number rose from 77.5 percent in 2003 to 84.8 percent in 2004. Similarly, in public four-year colleges, 82.4 percent of the institutions participating in the 2005 Campus Computing Survey report “appropriate use” policies, up from 68.6 percent in 2003, while 83.6 percent of private four-year colleges have these policies, compared to 68.7 percent in 2003.
“The 2005 data continue to confirm that colleges and universities are making significant efforts to respond to the concerns of media industry officials and members of Congress regarding the unauthorized distribution and downloading of music, video, and other commercial content on campus networks,” says Green. However, he notes that “the media industry and the media continue to devote disproportionate attention to college students as major source of digital piracy,” when, in fact, the primary terrain for digital piracy has shifted from college campuses to the tens of millions of individual households that now have consumer broadband services provided by Adelphia, Comcast, SBC-Yahoo, TimeWarner, and other Internet service providers (ISPs). Green cites data from the Recording Industry Association of America (www.riaa.org) as evidence that off-campus consumers, not college students, should be the real target of the media publicity about digital piracy: college students represent a very small proportion of the total number of individuals cited in the RIAA’s “John Doe” legal filings for P2P copyright violations.
The survey data reveal the continuing expansion of wireless networks (WiFi) across all sectors of higher education. Almost two-thirds (64.0 percent) of campuses report strategic plans for wireless networks as of fall 2005, up from 55.5 percent in 2004, 45.5 percent in 2003, 34.7 percent in 2002, and 24.3 percent in 2001. More than a fourth (28.9 percent) indicate that full-campus wireless networks are up and running at their institutions as of fall 2005, compared to a fifth (19.8 percent) in 2004, 14.2 percent in 2003, and just and 3.8 percent in 2000. Across all sectors, the 2005 data suggest that wireless services are available in more than two-fifths of college classrooms, up from a third (35.5 percent) in 2004. By sector, the proportion of wireless classroom ranges from 26.8 percent in community colleges (a gain from 24.8 percent last year) to 53.8 percent in private research universities (up from 47.4 percent in 2004).
“Wireless on campus is a great thing,” says Green, “as it fosters access, mobility, and collaborative work among students and faculty.” But he also notes there is also is evidence of a backlash against wireless from some faculty who would prefer that students not hide behind their computer screens during class.