NSW education strengthens ID management

Web portals redesigned for 1.3 million users

The NSW Department of Education and Training (DET) has rolled out a department-wide ID management system to increase the speed and transparency of its user authentication system portals.

The project, funded under the $10 billion federal education budget, has reduced login times for its 1.3 million students and 127,000 staff by 400 percent, created synchronized ID generation through its DET portal project, and has unified varying security measures.

Speaking at an Identity management forum in Sydney, NSW Department of Education and Training identity and provisioning project manager Terry Reilly said the new system sorted users into six categories including staff, primary students, secondary students, Tafe students and apprentices.

"We mapped our legacy systems and incorporated three HR systems into the project and used ID algorithms to synchronize user login identities and policies to our central database which updates changes to user information across multiple portals," Reilly said.

"Each day there were up to 15,000 to 20,000 account password changes which need to be synchronized across three databases, adding up to over 50,000. Authentication hits were up to 500,000."

"Business applications were integrated for principals to allocate privileges for creation of student assessments. We linked this to HR to ensure only current authorized staff were able to view reports," he said.

The system operates over a WAN to allow users remote and mobile access to portals, while Tafe institutions in the US have granted NSW Tafe students access to their education databases because of the DET authentication process.

DET conducted a pilot run of the Linux-based management system before implementing it over the 2005 Summer leave.

A reporting system which tests applications for speeds, user access hits and ID changes allows managers to review login times which are maintained at about 10 milliseconds, down from four seconds.

Reilly said use of the system has increased exponentially and speeds have improved since the system is not re-routed through the Oracle network directory after authentication.

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