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University Technology Services


Many people do not realise how insecure most networks are. Even modern switched networks remain vulnerable to sniffers, which are programs that capture traffic on a segment of the network, and can view all passing information, even inserting commands without knowledge of the victim. Using a sniffer, someone can see your email, passwords, URLs visited, and even read the contents of your messages unless you take precautions.

Encryption is important to protect your identity - userids and passwords - even if you're not concerned about securing the content of your messages. At a minimum, you should avoid applications which authenticate (send the userid and password in clear text), and prefer applications which encrypt them. You should avoid such applications as: POP and IMAP email clients without an option to encrypt the userid and password exchanged, as well as telnet and ftp which authenticate in plain text.

For example, web sites providing sensitive transactions (any service where privacy is a concern, such as access to your bank account), use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to encrypt the traffic. You can detect that SSL is in use by a 'locked' icon in the status tray of your browser, and by examining the URL which will start with https:// instead of http: when encryption is required.

You should prefer systems which use encryption:
  • SSH (Secure Shell) instead of telnet
  • SFTP (part of an ssh client) instead of ftp
  • SSL/TLS used with web applications to provide encryption (e.g. choose the URL in preference to the http: alternative)
  • secure options SSL option should be selected in mail clients to ensure email userid and password are encrypted; message text encryption is also available, if required. For example, Hotmail, Yahoo and others offer encrypted login, but not encrypted messages.

Service Bulletins

  • MAC ID Password Expiry

    Beginning in May 2016, MAC ID passwords at McMaster expire annually. Learn more at

Service Desk

Client Self Service:
Hours: Monday - Friday
8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Phone: 905-525-9140 x24357 (2HELP)
Location: Main Campus BSB Rm. 245
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