JSU Newswire
Jacksonville, Alabama

Gamecock E-Mail
JSU's GEM of the Web

Jamie M. Eubanks
JSU News Bureau

JACKSONVILLE -- June 22, 2001 -- Jacksonville State University’s new GEM is almost ready to shine. GEM stands for Gamecock E-Mail.

Currently, students and faculty at JSU must use campus computers to check their e-mail. They couldn’t just sit in the comfort of their own home to do this. But now, JSU’s GEM will allow students and faculty the “flexibility of web-based e-mail, such as AOL or Yahoo,” says Neil Johnson, who is heading the e-mail conversion.

Computer Services is “polishing” the GEM to make sure there aren’t any “bugs” in the system. “The new system should be in full swing by the end of this week,” says Johnson. “We’re just making sure all the "‘issues are worked out.”

These issues include the huge number of accounts that will be handled by the software. “There will likely be more than 8,000 e-mail accounts.” And there are several reasons for an increase in the number of accounts.

Since students will be able to check their e-mail from any computer anywhere, it will make using the free system on campus much more convenient than buying a membership from some other provider. And many announcements that are sent to students reach them via e-mail.

And those who prefer to use their account with AOL, Yahoo or another provider may set up a GEM account and forward all their e-mail to that account.

Johnson and Randy Harper, director of Computer Services at JSU, are stressing another important aspect of GEM. “We want to stress the concept of changing your password,” says Harper. “The new system will allow you to change your password at any time--as long as you know your old password.”

Each student is given a default password when their account is established. This password is the first eight digits of the student’s social security number. Both Harper and Johnson said that it is crucial that students change this password immediately.

“It is easy for someone to find out your social security number,” says Johnson. “So to prevent someone from reading your e-mail, change the password. That almost eliminates the risk.”

He also recommends, if you’re using a campus computer, that you logout and close the browser when you’re finished. “We have had an instance where someone was using a campus computer and they failed to close the browser. Someone came in behind them and read their e-mail from one of the other web-based servers,” comments Johnson.

And while Computer Services has never had any problems with individuals hacking into other people’s e-mail, they have incorporated a Secure Connection (SSL) that students and faculty can use while changing their password. However, your connection is secure, but, as with any e-mail, the e-mail itself is not secure.

“We are trying to work out any problems that may arise,” Johnson says. “But we are sure there will be some that we couldn’t possibly have anticipated.”

Within the week, the GEM will soon be “polished” and ready to shine for students and faculty at JSU.


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