University continues username consolidation

Ed Marlowe
Staff writer

Illustration by Erin Jackel/The News

Racers no longer have to worry about having a different password for myGate, Racermail, Blackboard and Murray State network access.

Computer Information Systems is currently reworking the login system to allow Murray State students, faculty and staff to use a single login (user ID and password) across all campus systems.

Linda Miller, chief information officer, said providing a synchronized login was identified as a major objective by students, faculty and staff several years ago.

“Now that we have implemented the core functionality of myGate, we can start the process of consolidating those accounts,” Miller said.

Miller said consolidation of personal accounts began last spring and has been moving forward.

“We began a process that tied the user ID for the network login to automatically match the myGate login,” Miller said. “That move has now been completed, and during the summer we completed the transition of the Blackboard user IDs to match the myGate and network login.”

Work on the login system should not cause any disruptions in server operations, Miller said, and any downtime would be negligible.

“This fall we plan to complete the transition of all email account IDs to match the other three systems,” she said. “This will only affect people (students and employees) who have been at the University longer than three years. All email accounts distributed in the past three years are already in the myGate format.”

Cassidy Palmer, associate director of technology, said she and Garrett Wheatley, help desk and user services manager, are working on email username changes that are a piece of this much larger project.

“At present the transitions have been fairly smooth with little or no major issues reported from the technical coordinators involved,” she said.

Palmer said many people on campus have already switched to the new myGate format.

“So far, several large administrative groups and colleges have made the transition from the old email format (firstname.lastname) to the new myGate format,” she said.

Miller said the more difficult tasks lie ahead for the information systems department.

“Once all email accounts have been transitioned to the new format (we anticipate this will be complete by the first of the year), information systems can tackle the consolidation of passwords,” Miller said.

She said all of the work would be done in-house, incurring little to no extra cost at the University’s expense.

“This is a complex process that will likely take several months, but will result in only one password for all systems. Until that process is complete, users will have to manually change passwords for each system if they want them to all be the same.”

Keely Netz Doctorman, alumna from Hopkinsville, Ky., is an employee of Breathitt Veterinary Center in Hopkinsville and is supportive of the changes, citing the new login will simplify filling out her timecards.

“I am glad that they’re doing it,” she said. “I think that if they’re trying to make myGate all inclusive, then it makes much more sense to have it all together. Having to have two different passwords that obey two different rule sets and change on completely different schedules just to do my timecards and my email is frustrating.”

Murray State alumus Eli Hooten, now a research assistant studying computer science at Vanderbilt University, said Murray State was behind the times concerning single log-ins and discussed how Vanderbilt handles its online interface.

“At Vanderbilt, single sign-on is really convenient for accessing the myriad of services offered here,” Hooten said. “Online journal access, email, billing, transcript requests, scheduling – it’s all handled electronically and accessed via the single sign-on process.”

Hooten said he was glad to see Murray State taking a step forward in technology, but did warn of the possible dangers of all-access usernames and passwords, citing the possibility of identity theft causing headaches for network administrators.

“Single sign-on can be a disaster in the event of a security breach,” he said. “If I obtain your email password, for example, I can delete all your emails, make 1,000 transcript requests and send them all to your house, sign you up for four sections of underwater basket weaving and cancel any pending payments you may have on your student accounts.”

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