Information Technology Services

SafeConnect Info & FAQ

What is SafeConnect?
SafeConnect is a NAC (network access and compliance) tool that helps ensure devices connected to the UNA network have up-to-date protection from malicious software. All devices accessing the UNA network must authenticate through this system before they can access the network. Additionally, Windows and Macintosh computers must install the SafeConnect Policy Key before accessing the network. Before authentication and on some devices before policy key installation, Internet access will be restricted to websites that allow you to update your computer with Windows or anti-virus updates.

What are the benefits of implementing SafeConnect?
Why did UNA choose SafeConnect?

SafeConnect is part of UNA’s effort to help you keep your devices as free as possible of viruses, spyware and operating system security holes. Devices protected in this way generally perform better and require much less downtime due to damage caused by malicious software. SafeConnect can also help ensure that users have the fastest possible browsing experience while connected to the university's network by ensuring that communication from malicious software does not flood the university's network and result in slower connections for all users.

SafeConnect enables organizations to take more proactive measures in ensuring a secure IT infrastructure. The goal is to provide an environment free of security threats and vulnerabilities—which promotes the exchange of ideas, information, and content to create a positive and productive network environment for all parties. 

SafeConnect is used extensively by colleges, universities and K-12 school districts across the country. While SafeConnect is used by many types of businesses, it was founded to address the unique endpoint policy requirements of higher education and the tool's creators understand the need to provide a flexible management framework to support diverse network architectures across multiple remote locations … all while supporting and protecting students, faculty, staff, and guests. SafeConnect is continually updating their software to accept the latest, greatest, and newest devices (like iPads, Droids, iPhones, etc.), because students don’t wait for the latest technology. This education focus is one of the main reasons UNA chose SafeConnect by Impulse.

What is the SafeConnect Policy Key?
The SafeConnect Policy Key is client software that must be installed on Windows and Macintosh computers before they can access the UNA network. It is a small piece of software that runs in the background once installed and uses practically no system resources. This software ensures that your anti-virus is installed, running and up to date. It also ensures that Windows Updates is set to automatically retrieve and install updates on a regular basis. It also verifies that any illegal P2P (peer-to-peer) software is not active. These criteria not only help to protect your personal computer on the network but also help create a safe and speedy network environment for all users. 

The SafeConnect Policy Key does not report or log any activity other than what is required to ensure end user compliance with the endpoint security policies discussed above. No direct personal information is collected or stored. In situations where the end user device is found to be out of compliance with stated security policies, the SafeConnect System will warn or quarantine the computer and provide information about how to solve the issue. The SafeConnect Policy Key does not automatically update itself every few hours like antivirus software. If the computer is taken off the UNA network, the key goes dormant and has no impact on use of the computer.

What happens if I uninstall the SafeConnect Policy Key?
You can uninstall the SafeConnect Policy Key at any time. However, if you are on the UNA network at the time or try to attach to the UNA Network later, you will be prompted to install SafeConnect again as though you were a new user, and you will be limited to accessing select resources until you do so.

Does SafeConnect track/monitor my usage? Is my computer still private?
No, SafeConnect does not track your computer usage. Your privacy is important to us. SafeConnect does not log your keystrokes, get or save information you type in, nor does it track your navigation of the Internet.  SafeConnect cannot take a snapshot of a system and cannot identify all the programs, file or folders on a given computer. SafeConnect does not allow UNA to see everything on your computer. Your computer usage remains private. The SafeConnect Policy Key checks only for the following:

  • DNS Server settings
  • DHCP Settings
  • MAC and IP Address
  • Windows Update settings
  • Whether or not (and which) anti-virus solution is installed
  • Whether or not an anti-virus program is running and up to date
  • Whether or not P2P programs are running
  • Whether or not you have valid UNA username and password

Impulse Point, the company that created the SafeConnect product, has released a privacy statement which is available at http://www.impulse.com/safeconnect/privacy-policy/

What if I'm currently using a UNA-owned computer?
If you are using a UNA-owned computer, SafeConnect should be of little to no impact to you. UNA-owned devices should already have an antivirus installed, running and up to date, Windows updates should be automatic, P2P software should not be present per policy, and hopefully the SafeConnect Policy Key is already installed on the computer. If this is not the case, please contact the helpdesk@una.edu or 256-765-4865.

What does my computer need to meet security requirements so I can use the UNA network?
Your computer needs to meet the following requirements:

  • SafeConnect Policy Key installed: If you connect to UNA’s network and do not have the client installed, you will automatically be prompted to complete this installation.
  • Windows Operating System Updates: Your machine must also be configured to check for available operating system updates automatically.  
  • Antivirus Software: SafeConnect will validate that you have Antivirus software installed and running with up-to-date virus definitions.
  • No P2P Software: SafeConnect will validate that you do not have illegal P2P software actively running.


Having trouble with the SafeConnect Policy Key?
Try visiting our SafeConnect Troubleshooting page to resolve most of the problems you may encounter.

SafeConnect Policy Key Troubleshooting Guide

What if I receive a message saying my Windows operating system is not configured to check for updates?
If SafeConnect detects that your Windows operating system is not configured to check for updates, you will receive a warning message letting you know that you need to update your operating system settings.  You can find instructions on how to do this for Windows 8, 7, and Vista at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/turn-automatic-updating-on-off#turn-automatic-updating-on-off=windows-8 – there is a drop down button on the upper right hand side of the page to allow you to choose your version of Windows. Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft or UNA.

What antivirus software does SafeConnect recognize?
For UNA-owned computers, only Microsoft System Center Endpoint Protection is allowed. If you receive a SafeConnect quarantine notice stating you need to install antivirus software on your university-owned computer, please contact the helpdesk@una.edu or 256-765-4865..

For non-UNA-owned computers, the antivirus software currently recognized by SafeConnect is listed below. Please note that at least one freeware solution is included for both Mac and PC users.

Macs:  AVG for Mac - Avira for Mac - BitDefender for Mac - ClamXav for Mac - Comodo for Mac - ESET for Mac - iAntivirus for Mac - Intego for Mac - Kaspersky for Mac - MacKeeper for Mac - McAfee for Mac - Microsoft SCEP for Mac - Norton for Mac - Panda for Mac - Sophos for Mac - TrendMicro for Mac

Windows:  Authentium – Avast – AVG – AVGuard – Bitdefender – Comodo - EZ Antivirus – Faronics – Fortinet - F-Secure – Gdata – Immunet – Iolo – Kaspersky – Landesk – LightSpeed – Malwarebytes -  McAfee - Microsoft OneCare - Microsoft SCEP - Microsoft Security Essentials - NOD32 – Panda - PC Tools – SecureIT – Sophos - SpySweeper AV – Symantec – TrendMicro - Vipre Antivirus – ZoneAlarm

Where can I find free anti-virus software?
Free and pay for versions of anti-virus software for Windows can be found at http://filehippo.com/software/antimalware/antivirus
Free and pay for versions of anti-virus software for Macs can be found at http://download.cnet.com/mac/antivirus-software/?tag=rb_content;main

Why does SafeConnect require me to have anti-virus software on my Mac? Macs don't get viruses.  
This is a myth.

Macs have become more and more popular over the last several years and they are now a more profitable target for hackers. Increasingly frequent security threats to Macs make the installation of anti-virus software advisable for all Mac users and a requirement for using the UNA network.

The articles below provide additional information on this topic:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/19/us-apple-hackers-idUSBRE91I10920130219 
http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/06/widespread-computer-virus-indicates-mac-users-no-longer-safe/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0 
http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2013/02/20/yes-apple-really-does-have-a-serious-problem-with-computer-viruses-and-malware/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/05/mac-flashback-trojan_n_1405766.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/25/mac-virus-apple_n_1625110.html
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/26/microsoft-security-apple_n_1456073.html

How often do I have to authenticate?
On UNA-owned computers, SafeConnect should automatically recognize your UNAPortal username and password (your Active Directory credentials) and not require further authentication. On personal devices, you will need to authenticate using your Active Directory credentials (your UNAPortal username and password). SafeConnect requires reauthentication once per academic year, and an extended period of inactivity over several months will require reauthentication.

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