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Use a Secure Connection to Access the Online Directory

Information displayed in the Northwestern University online directory is stored in a database known as a Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) database.

LDAP provides several ways to retrieve information and the least-restrictive method does not require a user to be identified before accessing the database. This is sometimes referred to as an anonymous LDAP query.

The Northwestern University online directory uses this form of access to retrieve directory information accessed through a Web browser. If the query originates from an off-campus Internet Protocol (IP) address, the amount of information released by the database is limited, as described in the LDAP White Pages Directory Data Items.

Anonymous queries are restricted because they provide a way for junk e-mail solicitors to harvest addresses from the Northwestern directory. When anonymous queries are allowed, the directory cannot distinguish what type of software is making the query. A request from an off-campus Outlook client looks the same as a query from harvesting software.

What does this mean?

Users on the NU Network are allowed to perform anonymous LDAP queries, but this capability is not available from an off-campus IP address.

For example, e-mail clients such as Outlook and Eudora are typically configured to access, or query, the LDAP database to retrieve recipient e-mail addresses. These queries will work for on-campus access, but not from off-campus. Off-campus University users can use Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect to the NU Network to enable access to the LDAP database.

Visit Use VPN for a Secure Connection for downloading and configuration instructions.

For more information on LDAP access at Northwestern, see Implementation Documentation for Using LDAP.

Last Updated: 28 January 2010

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