Accessing Smoogle in China

HELP US HELP YOU! Contact us before you travel to China. If you need assistance please contact the Smith IT Service Desk prior to your travel.  Many faculty and staff travel during the holiday season. Please be aware the Office of Smith IT is closed on official University holidays so contact us during our regular scheduled hours: http://it.rhsmith.umd.edu/operating-hours


China has many regulations and laws that restrict access to large swathes of the internet, blocking connections and access with the colloquially named “Great Firewall of China”. In February 2006, Google made a significant concession to the Great Firewall of China, in exchange for equipment installation on Chinese soil, by blocking websites which the Chinese government deemed illegal. Google reversed this policy in 2010, refusing to continue to censor results. This led to increasing difficulty in accessing Google services in China, especially since the summer of 2014, escalating further in December, although in early January 2015 it has eased somewhat.


BEFORE YOU TRAVEL

Install the vSmith Horizon Client


The vSmith client allows you to connect to Smith servers and run software on them directly, instead of on your computer. You can see the software running and interact with your mouse and keyboard like you would with software installed and running on your own computer. The advantage is the browser that opens is running in College Park, and is therefore not restricted as it’s traffic doesn’t pass through the Great Firewall.


For more information on how to access vSmith, please visit the vSmith site.

Install (or update) the University VPN client.


A VPN client allows you to connect to a remote network by ‘tunnelling’ your internet traffic through an encrypted communication channel. In non-geek talk, if you use the University VPN client on your computer when travelling, every time you access a server or site at the University, that traffic is protected and sent through the secure tunnel and cannot be intercepted. This can help greatly in situations where traffic is being monitored such as in China. Unless China starts blocking all traffic to the University you can send/receive data back and forth to the University without filtering.


The University VPN client is provided by the campus Division of IT and as it no longer automatically updated you should download and install the latest version before you travel, even if you previously installed it. Download, install, and run the VPN client by following these instructions by DivIT. You can find the Mac version of the VPN client on the Terpware site under the Mac software area.


Test the VPN client and vSmith client when off campus before you travel


It’s vital that you test your setup before you travel. Getting support remotely can be difficult with the time zone differences, inability for Smith IT to access your computer and if the firewall is blocking you, you may not be able to download and install the software you need to connect if you’re in China. If there are any problems with your setup, please contact the Office of Smith IT Service Desk so we can assist. For issues with the VPN client we will probably have to refer you to the Division of IT but we may spot an easy to fix problem and get you up and running quickly before you travel. Please do not wait until the last minute, or when the University is closed as there may be no resources to assist you until after you leave.


To test the setup, you’ll need to connect to the VPN client, then launch the Student Desktop through vSmith.


Launch the VPN client and login with your University Directory ID and password when you need to connect to University resources remotely. This will encrypt all your traffic to the University and protect it’s content. Note that any traffic going to other websites or services will not pass through the VPN client (e.g. if you go cnn.com, then the VPN tunnel will not be used and your traffic will go over the internet as normal).


Open your web browser and go to the vSmith website workspace.rhsmith.umd.edu and login with your University Directory ID and password. Launch the Student/Faculty/Staff Desktop and access your Smoogle email as you normally would on your computer.


If you have any questions please contact the Office of Smith IT.