The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday December 2nd

ConnectCarolina 2.0 blocked by ITS

Users of the site had to get new Onyens and passwords.

Students who signed up for ConnectCarolina 2.0, a website that promised to improve on the ConnectCarolina model, woke up yesterday morning to a nasty surprise — they were unable to access Sakai, Heelmail or UNC’s Wi-Fi.

Hundreds of students went to the Information Technology Services office Tuesday night and Wednesday to get a new Onyen and password, said Ramon Padilla, deputy chief information officer for ITS.

But the creator of ConnectCarolina 2.0, UNC junior Winston Howes, said he wants the student body to know he is sorry.

“It wasn’t our intention. We were just trying to make a better and more secure ConnectCarolina experience,” said Howes, a computer science major.

Howes said he was inspired to create the website after hearing complaints about the ConnectCarolina site, which holds all of students’ academic information, including their class schedules.

“I had a free week and thought, ‘Hey, I should knock this out,’” he said. “I tried to make it easier and more secure and be how I thought a class system should be, making it faster.”

Howes said anywhere between 600 and 1,000 students signed up for the service once it was launched Tuesday. The site was up for 27 hours before ITS blocked the IP address Tuesday night, he said.

Howes said he used the Onyen and password to log into people’s accounts, but he did not keep data about people’s passwords.

“I’ve talked to ITS and we realized there’s a misunderstanding there,” he said. “But what’s right on the forefront of their minds is user security.

“We stored your Onyen so we could email — that was good because I was able to email an apology,” he said.

Howes said he does not anticipate any disciplinary action being taken against him.

“From what I’ve talked to them about, it’s just a misunderstanding and they’re being cautious, as they absolutely should be,” he said. “We’re unsure if the site could relaunch or if the normal ConnectCarolina will get a makeover.”

But Padilla said the case was still under investigation.

“Disciplinary action is certainly in the realm of possibility — but I do not make those decisions,” he said.

Padilla said he thought the site was a form of phishing — the process of gathering and using strangers’ private information online.

“At the end of the day you’re giving your information to an unknown third party. Whatever they’re going to say they’ll do with your information, you have no control over it.”

Jordan Black, a sophomore biology major who signed up for the program, said he will now be more cautious before he gives out his information.

“I didn’t suspect anything when I logged in, but I’m definitely more wary now,” he said.

On the homepage of ConnectCarolina 2.0, users could view their entire class schedule, use a search tool to find classes and see how classes in their shopping cart fit into their schedule.

“The website was great, it was very easy to navigate,” said Roxanne Henshall, a sophomore business adminstration major who signed up for the site. “ConnectCarolina is now kind of going out of style. They should definitely take a look at what Winston is offering.”

university@dailytarheel.com

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