Jinx Walton reports to Computer Usage Committee on possible software and technology changes


The University is exploring several software changes and additions as well as technology improvements in the coming months and years, Chief Information Officer Jinx Walton told the first fall meeting of the University Senate’s Computer Usage Committee.

Among the University-wide enhancements Walton said her office is considering:

  • Software for password management. Such software can create and store passwords for all University logins. After examining several top products for a number of factors, from price to their ability to handle the needs of a large institution, Walton’s office selected LastPass for a trial run. “If we are able to do this, and we are able to do this at a reasonable cost, I think it will be a real benefit,” she said. Committee member Alexandros Labrinidis, faculty member in the School of Computing and Information (SCI), cautioned that some Pitt employees are already using their own password managers, and may want the option to retain that software and perhaps to switch to Pitt’s system at a later date. Michael Spring, committee chair and SCI faculty member, suggested that an education campaign may be needed to familiarize faculty, staff and students with the need for password management.
  • Salesforce as an enterprise relationship management system. “It’s like a customer relationship management system,” Walton explained, most readily applicable to Pitt offices that handle admissions, alumni and donors. It would also help standardize IT help desk software throughout the University, allowing help desk personnel to see who has already worked on common issues and what solutions they have found. With multiple offices potentially sharing data in all these areas, Spring cautioned that “the more accessible data is, the more concern you have about privacy.” Walton assured that, when Salesforce is more widely used at Pitt, it will not result in more data being collected or shared inappropriately.
  • Modifications to Safe Links. Currently, Safe Links blocks email users from clicking on links to malicious websites. But it changes the display of web addresses on acceptable sites to a long name, starting with “safelinks,” rendering site names hard to decipher. Walton said that Microsoft may soon adjust the product so that it displays original web addresses. “It does look clunky, but it is really an effective product,” she added.
  • Wireless upgrade. Because the wireless industry is expected to roll out a “major upgrade” in wireless technology in the next few years, Walton said, “It’s going to require us to upgrade all our wireless equipment.”
  • Software to supplement or replace Read Green. The Office of University Communications is examining Campaign Monitor as a possible alternative to Read Green for mass emails.
  • Cybersecurity incident and event management system. Walton said that the University is considering new software “that will allow us better to look at all the alerts” of possible cybersecurity breaches. “It’s hard to know, when you’re getting thousands of them, which to look at.”

The computer usage committee also will take a vote on changing its name to the Computing and Information Technology Committee or another label to better describe the scope of its work.

Marty Levine is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at martyl@pitt.edu or 412-758-4859.