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We are in the transition to a “new normal”. However it will look different from the normality before the corona pandemic. Step by step areas of life are being ramped up that until recently were in an unprecedented exceptional situation. This involved a lot of stresses, but it has also brought new and valuable insights into how we can organize our lives. The significance of digital communication options has increased enormously. The use of digital technologies has been accelerated tremendously. It became clear that it is important to have systems that function independently of individual providers or even of foreign countries. Systems that are resilient and can react quickly and effectively to a crisis so that stable conditions can be restored.
Version 4.4-4 of Univention Corporate Server (UCS) comes with some cool new features, one of them being the new AD Connector app. It makes the synchronization of password hashes between a Microsoft Active Directory domain and a UCS domain significantly more secure and less error-prone. While previous versions could only synchronize NTLM hashes, the AD Connector of UCS 4.4-4 also reads newer hashes, the so-called Kerberos keys which allow single sign-on (SSO) to different applications.
I am a second-year trainee at Univention (job description: IT specialist for application development). I was involved in the development of the new feature and mainly had to deal with three tasks: the AD Connector itself, the OpenLDAP overlay module, and the S4 Connector (Samba). In this blog post I’m going to explain what Kerberos hashes are and how I implemented the new feature.
By default, UCS users can enter the password incorrectly any number of times without being locked out by the system. In order to make brute force attacks to crack passwords more difficult, admins can set up an automatic lockout that prevents an account from being accessed after a user-defined number of failed attempts.
Univention Corporate Server offers several methods for authentication and authorization. In this blog article I will show you how to log failed login attempts to the system via PAM stack, OpenLDAP and Samba respectively and how you as an admin can set a limit for the number of unsuccessful logins.
In recent weeks, the increased demand for video conferencing solutions has kept us in the App Center team busy with the question of how Univention can help companies, organizations and school authorities to communicate effectively in digital form without leaving out aspects of data protection. For this reason, we have intensively studied various open source solutions for video conferencing and published quickly Jitsi Meet as an app in the App Center. It is now available to UCS users for easy installation.
Jitsi is a fully encrypted and 100% open source video conferencing solution. The connection to the UCS directory service via LDAP is already configured. Therefore, administrators of a UCS environment can give users access to Jitsi with their regular username and password using the Univention Management Console (UMC). Then Jitsi can be easily accessed from the UCS portal. In this blog post, I would like to show you the most important installation steps and then focus on the different use cases regarding user authentication. Organizations can use Jitsi Meet on Univention Corporate Server (UCS) to specifically control how open they make the access to the app and which users can conduct video conferences.
Which digital offers are you already using?
We usually have local school server solutions at our schools. We are using iServ at three vocational schools, Logodidact mostly at secondary schools and we still have the MNSPro solution at primary and a few secondary schools. A pilot project was launched four years ago with a council decision. The aim is to test a concept for the implementation of a cross-school solution that is centrally operated and maintained by the school authorities. With the support of the system house Linet Services GmbH that is located in Braunschweig we implemented an identity management system based on UCS@school at six pilot schools with around 5,000 users in 2017. The digital identities of the teachers and students are stored centrally in the identity management system and each user has a uniform user name and password. With these, the users have secure and controlled access via RADIUS to the school WiFi, which is distributed uniformly to all pilot schools. Docked to the IDM of UCS@school we also operate the learning management solution itslearning.
As a local education authority, we provide the IT services and IT infrastructure for almost 20,000 users all told. 18,000 of these are pupils and 1,700 are teaching staff and other employees in our 40 schools.
What digital solutions do you have in your portfolio for the schools right now?
As far as solutions for schools are concerned, Bremerhaven works in close cooperation with the education authority in Bremen and the State Institute for School (LIS). Your UCS and UCS@school solutions have already been in use in the city of Bremen for some time now. When we started thinking about introducing a learning management system in Bremerhaven four years ago, it was only natural to take a look at itslearning – the solution that Bremen had selected the year before. It quickly convinced us, and, like Bremen, we decided on a centralized, interschool concept. That’s why we operate UCS in the BIT computer center and maintain a digital identity with a username and password for each and every user in its directory service. Following the setting up of this directory service, we created a personal work e-mail address for all teaching staff and other employees at the schools. itslearning was also made available for all schools. It was initially employed at all the vocational training schools, for senior classes in the grammar schools, and at some high schools. Since its introduction, we have noticed that use of the solution by both staff and students has increased steadily. In addition, many of the staff in the elementary schools are also using itslearning for organizational purposes. The introduction of the itslearning Sofa Tutor tool, which allows teaching staff to create their own digital learning content, brought with it new impulses.
99 schools, approx.47,000 students, approx. 5,000 teachers
Which digital offers are you already using? How do you deploy them?
The state capital of Hanover (LHH) supports the schools in their administrative tasks, such as the maintenance and software equipment of the school secretariats’ computers.
There has never been a comprehensive central IT offering for the classes. By this, a large number of individual solutions have emerged in schools in recent years. The hardware procurement was carried out by the LHH and for the support the schools received an IT budget.