Malicious sites have been blocked by Wits ICT.

Wits ICT (Information Communication Technologies) division have blocked malicious and illegal peer-to-peer downloading and streaming sites starting on April 1, 2019.

The division confirmed the block after a number of Wits students took to social media to complain about not being able to connect to some of their favourite sites.

Twitter user @Iam_KM98 was one of the students who could not gain access to movie sites

Another user, @Thaaandazo_, also raised the same problem highlighting that the show she normally watches is not available on the legal sites.

@MosaMonaheng1, in shock, asked fellow students what they had done wrong for Wits to block streaming sites.

Twitter user @tumipitswane was also one of the students who took to twitter to complain about the blocked illegal streaming sites.

Dr Umesh Bodaling, a Systems Engineer at Wits ICT, explained malicious sites as virus sites or sites that attempts to install malware or  gather  personal information. He said peer-to-peer on the other hand, is like torrents which are illegal downloading sites.

“The reason we blocked these is because of copyright material that is illegally downloaded, however, there are ways to bypass it and some students have already found them,” Bodaling said.

“We get complaints from media centres overseas saying our network has downloaded a copyright material, for example a movie. The university could get sued if we do not pay close attention to things like this and that is why we have blocked them”, he added.

Bodaling emphasised that the university does not block legitimate sites like Netflix or Showmax which he encourages students to use.

He added that the viruses from malicious sites can attack the user’s device so blocking the sites actually preserves and protects the device.

“A lot of these sites that host things for free have malicious content which affects the user’s machine and the user won’t know. So they give it for free but in the meantime its infecting your machine,” he said.

Thokozani Dhlamini, ICT  technician, told Wits Vuvuzela that the sites are blocked by restricting access to certain domains that are marked as malicious. He also added that the the university is also limiting students from accessing the Eduroam network, which allows students to connect to the internet as they are trying to reserve it for visitors.

“We are trying to encourage students to use the Wits Wifi network by limiting access to Eduroam. We are doing this by trying to shed traffic especially during the day.”

ICT Chief Information Officer, Dr Mgobansimbi Mpofu, said the Wiits network cannot be used for illegal activities activities as this will have an impact on the university and ultimately on the jobs of the people working for Wits ICT.

Mpofu said the department has been trying to restructure their network system so it could work more efficiently and effectively.
“With trying to stay on top of things and encourage students to lodge complaints instead of tweeting them, we are going to launch a twitter page where students can tweet their complaints and we can fix them as they arise,” he added.

FEATURED IMAGE:  Wits Information Communication Technologies (ICT) offices where students can lodge complaints about internet related issues. Photo: Anathi Madubela.