Guidelines

Using Desktop Voice Calling and Personal Video Conferencing Software inc. Skype - Guidelines

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1. Purpose and Objectives

This guideline details the specific actions and process that must be followed to implement the Acceptable Use of UQ ICT Resources Policy in relation to online video or voice conferencing. The guideline outlines the responsibilities of all users of UQ ICT Resources.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Account/UQ Sign-In - access provided by UQ to any ICT resource or any non-UQ ICT resource utilised for UQ purposes

ICT - Information Communication Technology.  ICT products and services are defined as all types of technology (data, voice, video etc) and associated resources which relate to the capture, storage, retrieval, transfer, communication or dissemination of information through the use of electronic media.

User - all staff, students, contractors, third parties, clinical and adjunct title holders, affiliates, alumni and all other people who legitimately access UQ’s systems and/or network

Other Entities - External organisations which may provide cloud solutions (e.g. Microsoft), host services such as Wimba and Turnitin, and UQ affiliated and wholly owned organisations

3. Guidelines Scope/Coverage

This is a University-wide guideline, which applies to all users of University ICT resources – including (but not limited to) staff, students, contractors, third parties, associates and honoraries, alumni, conjoint appointments and visitors to the University.

The guideline also applies to anyone connecting personally owned equipment (e.g. laptops) to the University network.

4. Guidelines Statement

This guideline provides additional detail on online video or voice conferencing in respect of definitions, important things to know about generic applications and Skype in particular, using generic applications and Skype in particular at UQ and what to do if your computer becomes a Skype “supernode”. Details on each of these aspects are outlined in sections 5 – 10 below.

5. What is Online Video or Voice Conferencing?

ITS recommends the use of Cisco Jabber for Online Video Conferencing, details of this can be found on the ITS website here. There are many freely available software applications that enable “free” voice and multimedia communication across the network e.g. Skype, Vidyo, Google Talk, etc.  These applications are generally self-configuring and work effectively on most computers or smart devices with a broadband or better connection.

6. Some Important Things to Know about Online Video and Voice Conferencing

Before you have online video or voice conferencing software installed and start using it on your computer you should be aware of a few things.

• The popularity of these applications combined with the fact that some use a proprietary code base has led to concerns over possible malicious exploits. As with all software applications, it is critical to patch and update the client regularly.

• These applications rely on the intervening network to reliably transfer data between the end points of your call. This can sometimes have a significant impact on the quality and usability of the call. There can be no guarantee of service or quality when you use applications of this type.

7. Important Information Specific to Skype

Skype uses a peer-to-peer approach where each individual client will perform some work on behalf of the Skype network. As the number of users grows, so too will the number of peers in the network, requiring some peers to do more work. These peers are elected as “super nodes” and start relaying large amounts of traffic for the Skype network, slowing other services and consuming or exhausting user Internet quota.

8. Using Online Video or Voice Conferencing at UQ

If you plan to install and use one of these applications on a computer connected to the University network please remember and abide by the following guidelines:

• You should always use the latest version of the client software for the operating system installed on your computer and you should also make sure that it is patched to the most recent revision.

• You should always have the University approved (and up to date) anti-virus software and system security software running when you are using these applications.

• Support for these applications is offered on a on a "best efforts" basis only and issues of connectivity or call quality beyond the UQ-border may affect the ability of IT staff to resolve problems, particularly if the issues are related to network bandwidth or latency.

• ITS does not provide support for these applications in centrally controlled teaching spaces.

• Remembering to shut the client down when you are finished your call will help reduce the chance that it could be compromised or exploited to gain unauthorised access to your computer, your data and your UQ credentials.

• Whilst these applications can be configured to remember credentials and passwords it is very poor security practice to do so and you should avoid making the configuration change.

9. Using Skype at UQ

Despite the apparent drawbacks, Skype can be extraordinarily useful and it is important to remember that Skype is in wide use at the University.

If you plan to install and use Skype on a computer connected to the University network please remember and abide by the following guidelines:

• You should only use Skype on computers that are connected to the network via BROADHOP on private TCP/IP addresses. This is to prevent them becoming “super nodes” and using up valuable network or computer resources.

• You should not use Skype on computers connected directly to the Internet via a public TCP/IP addresses.

• As a rule of thumb, Skype should not be installed on general laboratory or classroom computers whether they are connected via BROADHOP or not. If you need to install Skype on a laboratory or classroom computer please check first with your local IT Support Officer, or the IT Service desk.

10. What happens if my computer does become a Skype “super” node?

If a computer on which Skype is installed is detected as using an excessive amount of bandwidth, IT Support staff will be requested to disable access or remove it from the network until it can be safely reconnected. If this occurs when you are not available to be contacted, your computer may be disconnected from the network remotely.

11. Further Information

Please remember that online video or voice conferencing software is not a replacement for a normal phone, and cannot be relied on for making emergency calls.

Please click on the following links to find out more information about Skype from their website or to download the latest version of the client software. Please note that if you are viewing this page from within the UQ Network you may be asked to authenticate.

• Download the latest Skype client software

• Visit the Skype website

• Check out an alternative to Skype, Microsoft Communicator

For clarification on any matter in relation to this Guideline, please contact your local IT Support or the Director (ITS), ph. 3346 6881, email help@its.uq.edu.au.

Custodians
Director, Information Technology Services
Mr Rob Moffatt
Custodians
Director, Information Technology Services
Mr Rob Moffatt