Digital Certificate Operation in a Complex Environment
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Assistance to DCOCE from the ITSS

1. We'd love to have your assistance and input!

DCOCE is an interesting research project that can help to look at how new projects and mechanisms are introduced across the University, as well as how information flow such as registration works.

We would like to have your input in three major areas:

It will cost you nothing, and you'll have the satisfaction of taking part in a national study - PLUS you'll have the chance of winning one of our prizes for users (see below for details).

Thanks for your interest!

The DCOCE team.

1.1. Please be an early adopter user

We are seeking people to be digital certificate users so that they can report usability findings to us. We would appreciate the first set of users to come from ITSS as we battle to make the request for - and the use of - certificates as user-friendly as possible.

Graphic of user, certificate and private key

Ideally, ITSS users after 15 September 2004 followed by a more typical user base in late September-October.

ITSS will help to test client certificates with the DCOCE project on Tuesday 21 September OR Thursday 23 September at OUCS. The lab tests will start at 1.15pm and should not last more than 1.5 hours but will be very helpful for the DCOCE project to evaluate user experiences of certificates to access ITSS pages. To get involved please email to register your interest, explaining you are part of ITSS. Let us know which date you can join us at OUCS (either Tuesday 21 September OR Thursday 23 September). Your name will be entered in a draw for Blackwells vouchers and other more valuable give-aways.

If you cannot attend either date then please register your interest anyway. Your name will be entered in the draw for Blackwells vouchers and other more valuable give-aways, and we will send you instructions so you can apply for and use your certificate from your desktop in the period till 6 October to access ITSS resources and Athens authenticated resources, then we will send you a questionnaire.

If you've already registered your interest we will be contacting those ITSS members that have responded to earlier calls to check which date you can attend. Your names will be carried forward to further prize draws.

1.2. Please persuade your registration staff

For every group of users, we need to have a registration authority (RA). In a production system, there would typically be at least one RA per college, and most departments would have one person (but there may be departments and groups that share registration procedures).

Graphic of user visiting RA

We would like 'typical' registration people! These are the people who process new staff and/or students. If they find the concepts and software easy to follow and use, then that is very useful information for us. (And clearly the reverse is also true!).

Ideally, we would like some RAs when we begin the process of 'registering' and issuing certificates to the ITSS users after 15 September 2004, so please try to persuade an RA near you!

1.3. Do you know anyone who needs strong access controls?

We need applications to protect with digital certificate authentication. At the moment, we are looking into something specific for the ITSS and one or two Oxford-hosted 'services'. However, we really need more.

If you are going to be trying out our certificates, it would be really helpful - and more realistic for you - if you can use them in a real situation.

So, if you know of a research group that needs a web based resource that needs protecting from the public gaze, please let us know and we will investigate whether we can put certificate-based authentication in as the access management. This will mean that only the people who need to gain access, will gain access. It does mean that all of the people who need access will require a digital certificate from us.

(And don't worry, not all holders of our certificates will be able to gain access - just the ones that you specify!)

1.4. Please be part of our trial!

Be part of our trial and go into the draw for some DCOCE give-aways!

Sign up for a trial use of a digital certificate and we will put you into a draw for our freebies which may include:

  • a PDA
  • Blackwell's vouchers

We'd love to have your feedback - and it should be a learning experience for us all.

Contact us at to find out more, or to sign up. It costs nothing, and we can all learn a lot!

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Oxford University Computing Services Mimas Athens access management services Oxfore e-Science Centre Systems and Electronic Resources Service Joint Information Systems Committee