Welcome, new Gators! We know that adjusting to campus life is challenging, and it takes time. We have resources to facilitate your smooth transition before classes begin.
Looking for technical, academic, or administrative systems support? The UF Computing Help Desk can answer your questions regarding UF systems and services, including GatorMail, Canvas, eduroam, and UF’s VPN. Connect with the Help Desk by calling 352-392-HELP/4357, visiting 132 Hub (located across from the Starbucks), or submitting a ticket.
Use some time before the start of classes to watch UFIT’s Gator Students Playlist. Learn to use several UF tech services and steps to stay cybersafe. Your emotional and physical safety matters and yeah, UF has an app for that. Or two! Download the GatorSafe and the Whole Gator apps. GatorSafe allows you to view transportation information on SNAP, UF’s nighttime shuttle, and RTS, the city’s bus service. You can also get immediately connected to UF’s Police. The Whole Gator app provides wellness and mental health resources, recreation opportunities, and more. UF also provides an online campus map, useful for locating class locations and computer labs before the semester begins. UFIT is here for you, Gators! Let us know how we can help!
The University of Florida’s
Virtual Private Network (VPN) enables faculty, staff, and students who are off-campus to securely access UF services that are generally only available when connected to the campus network. In layman language, the VPN provides a secure “tunnel” that routes your computer’s network traffic through the UF network. Since the university’s response to COVID-19 began, usage of UF’s VPN has grown significantly. However, it is not always necessary to use the VPN to achieve the goal of secure access. This is because many of the university’s campus-wide services are hosted off-site and accessing via the campus network is not required. Here’s a list of when the UF VPN is — and is not — needed:
Use the VPN to access:
• Departmental drives and network files
• UF library resources
• Remote Desktop
Do not use the VPN to access:
• University of Florida email systems
• UF SharePoint sites
• Microsoft Teams
• Skype for Business
• UF e-Learning (Canvas) content
• UF DropBox
Anyone with questions about how and when to use the UF VPN should contact their local IT staff. The UF Computing Help Desk can also answer questions about using the UF VPN.
In 2016, China announced it would block unregistered VPN services. In 2018, UFIT began receiving reports from faculty working in China that the UF VPN was blocked.
Using the UF VPN service in tandem with an encrypted laptop provides secure, remote access to the UF Network. However, registering UF’s VPN to allow its use in China would require the university to provide the Chinese government access to decrypted data and other sensitive information.
There is nothing UFIT can do to make the UF VPN service work in China without potentially violating Chinese law and putting faculty, students, and staff in legal jeopardy. UFIT will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as needed.
It is possible that reputable Cloud services like O365 (OneDrive) and UF Dropbox may periodically be available while you are in China. However, network and Cloud access in China is a fluid situation — what works today may not work tomorrow. UFIT recommends:
- Travelling with an encrypted laptop. Ideally, the laptop should be specially prepared by IT staff for your trip. This includes erasing all documents, including research and applications such as your UF email client. Just take the specific files (like the PowerPoint presentation to be used) needed. The laptop should then be returned to your IT staff to make sure that no malware or spyware was installed while abroad.
- Storing files locally on that encrypted laptop because you may not have access to cloud services or the UF VPN while in China. Transfer any work product created upon your return from your travel laptop to your regular UF Network location.
- Prior to travelling, copy the files you’ll be working on to your O365 (OneDrive) or UF Dropbox location—have a backup set of files stored before you go.
UF’s Information Security Office recommends viewing their Security Tips When Traveling Abroad page prior to leaving the country. If you contact the UF Computing Help Desk while in China, they will tell you that UF VPN blocking is a known issue and there is nothing UF staff can do to remedy the situation.