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1. What is MinUWet

MinUWet is a small agent, a program which runs on your computer then forwards that info onto the campus servers.  MinUWet can encourage a campus minimum standard for wireless or wired computers running Windows, namely that the machines are:


2. Is MinUWet using Microsoft's NAP or Cisco's NAC, and if not, why not?

The concept of all these technologies is similar, and there are several vendors vying for dominance.  An excellent November 2005 issue of Network Computing compared their strategies (see here).  But current reviews indicate that Cisco's strategy is a work in progress and Microsoft's relies on Vista (an unfinished product).  


MinUWet is here and works now.   It was writen by a UW employee, so we have full control over how much or little it accomplishes, and we can direct it to match our changing needs.


In time, NAP or NAC or (hopefully) something standardized will be a real option and we can retire MinUWet, just as we can someday retire the NAA.


3. How could we possibly beat these major vendors to a solution?

We didn't beat them because we are doing something different, we have far more modest and attainable goals.  


Our plan was to replace our earlier educational approach of saying "please install patches and antivirus" with something that validates this minimal compliance.


Microsoft and Cisco talking about much more powerful features.  They are also in the business of selling more products.  Microsoft will position the Vista upgrade as a major security coup and a reason to encourage people to upgrade and/or convert.  Cisco wants customers to upgrade all existing hardware to their newest, and to probably sell some software and support licenses too.


NAP and NAC are two competing standards because these companies are fighting for mindshare and marketshare.  Both want to be your preferred security vendor.  We just need a solution until then.


4. My computer runs Windows...

MinUWet will pass CE, XP SP1 (with some reservations), XP SP2, and Windows 2003.  It will fail for older Microsoft operating systems.


MinUWet targets Windows computers because they represent the largest percentage of problems on our network.


MinUWet will fail your Windows computer if it is not running a current vendor-supported version.  Microsoft no longer supports Windows 3.11, 95, 98, Me, or 2000.  They have all passed end-of-life, so MinUWet will fail these systems.


Windows 3.11


Windows 95


Windows 98


Windows ME


Windows 2000


Windows CE


Windows XP

SP2 passes, see text for rest

Windows 2003



Microsoft also does not support XP in a pre-SP1 state.  However, SP1 does not have a standardized way of informing the operating system about your antivirus installation.  So MinUWet is not told which AV product you may have installed if you run SP1.  As a service, we manually search and detect Symantec Antivirus products on SP1 computers.  Campus users can upgrade to the latest Symantec antivirus and anti-spyware for free.  See here.


5. What about my Mac or Linux computer or my Palm Pilot

These computers do not typically present the same level of threat to the campus network.  The plan is to currently allow these computers to sidestep the agent.  If the threat level changes, we could port MinUWet to these or any other platform.  That's one of the benefits of having total control of our program.


6. If Macs can side-step security, then clearly this is not an iron-clad system

This system will not guarantee compliance, but it will greatly improve the odds of better-managed computers.


Our problem today is not the user who goes out of his way to imitate a well managed system, rather we are besieged by under-managed computers - ones running outdated operating systems, not getting Microsoft updates, and broken or never-installed antivirus programs.  MinUWet catches these sorts of problems.


7. Does MinUWet give away control of my computer, or divulge my personal information?

MinUWet only does the following things:


8. Why would I agree to run this agent

You could agree because you want to be safe and secure, or you might run it if doing so is necessary to gain fuller access to the network.



Updated: Dec 1, 2005, Erick Engelke