If you access uConnect on your smartphone, you will need a PIN by Nov. 8

Starting on Tuesday, Nov. 8, the 1,641 uConnect customers who regularly read their campus email on smartphones or other mobile devices will need to start protecting them with a personal identification number or passcode.

If they don't, their phones will become unable to do anything except answer incoming calls and make emergency phone calls, until they create the PIN or passcode.

The policy applies to any phone or device that regularly checks uConnect email, regardless of who owns it.

The 1,641 faculty and staff in question all use ActiveSync (BlackBerry Sync in BlackBerries), a feature that lets them easily access email, online work calendar, tasks and notes--collectively known as Exchange features--on their phones or other mobile devices.

That's all good. Campus cyber-safety standards, however, require devices that connect to the campus network to be secure. To fulfill that UC Davis policy, on Nov. 8 the uConnect service will centrally apply a PIN/passcode requirement to its customers' mobile devices that use ActiveSync or BlackBerry Sync.

Many of those devices already have a PIN or passcode. Applying the policy simply makes sure that all such phones are covered.

The change also means:

  • The phone/device will automatically lock after no more than 20 minutes of inactivity. To unlock, users will enter their PIN/passcode.
  • The phone/device can be wiped of all data by remote command. This would be done at the owner's request if the phone/device is lost or stolen. The owner can also wipe the phone via the Outlook Web App (OWA) browser, owa.ucdavis.edu.
  • The phone/device will be wiped of all data if the person entering the PIN/passcode fails 10 times. Before 10 failures happen, the user is prompted to wait before continuing--and will probably want to get technical help before entering the wrong code 10 times.

The PIN/ passcode must be at least 4 digits, and can use numerals or letters, depending on the device and operating system.

UConnect is a growing UC Davis unified communications service for faculty and staff. Its features include email, shared calendars, voice options, electronic faxes, support for mobile devices, and more. About 5,200 uConnect customers use its Exchange features, and about a third of the 5,200 use sync to access those features--primarily email and the calendar--on their iPhones, BlackBerries, Android smartphones, iPads, and similar devices.

The uConnect team will start applying the new policy at 10 a.m. Nov. 8. Soon thereafter, customers will see a prompt asking them to accept the policy change, and to enter their PIN/passcode. Anyone who has not created a PIN/passcode will be prompted to create one.

The team chose 10 a.m. on a weekday so help would be readily available. The team encourages customers to create the PIN/passcode for their phones or devices before Nov. 8, to smooth the transition.

For more information, see the message emailed to the 1,641 customers. The uConnect service team has also emailed information to the technicians who support uConnect in various campus departments.