This page describes how to connect to wireless at UCSF. There are two wireless networks. The table below describes the differences among the two networks.

If you send or receive unencrypted confidential data such as:

  • patient records
  • student records
  • employee records
  • logins or passwords

over the wireless network, you need to understand the information below and act accordingly to comply with federal and state laws and UCSF policy. If you permit such data to be exposed, you could be held personally responsible for fines, sent to prison, or subject to disciplinary action. Details: Technology Security and About Privacy.

Network Name




February 2009

July 2010

Recommended for

Students, faculty, staff, and affiliated persons who have either of the following:

  • a UCSF MyAccess account
  • a UCSF Exchange email account (also known as Active Directory account or AD account)

Visitors and guests

Network Name



Is it secure?

Yes. UCSFwpa is a secure network, which means that your wireless activity is always encrypted and cannot be observed by others using the wireless network.

No. UCSFguest is an insecure network, which means that your unencrypted wireless activity could be observed by others using the wireless network. Unencrypted wireless activity includes:

  • visiting URLs that begin with http (which is insecure) rather than https (which is secure)
  • sending or receiving email from a server over an insecure protocol such as POP without encryption or IMAP without encryption

If you want to use this network and if you have access to UCSF VPN, logging in to VPN and enabling its Network Connect feature will improve the security of your connection. (This is also true for any public, unencrypted wireless connection.)

More details: Breaking the Web's Cookie Jar.

Also, if your laptop does not have a properly working firewall, it is more susceptible to threats from any malicious persons using this network.

Network Name



How do I connect?

To connect, you need either of the following:

  • your MyAccess username and password
  • your UCSF Exchange email username and password (also known as your Active Directory username and password or AD username and password)

When you have either of these, follow the tutorial for your platform or device found in the left column at UCSFwpa - Secure Wireless.

Need help? Report a problem?

In your list of available wireless networks, select the network called UCSFguest. No configuration, login, or password is required.

Need help? Report a problem?

Where does it work?

UCSFwpa and UCSFguest are available at UCSF campuses. Wireless works everywhere there is a reasonable expectation that it works. If you find otherwise, please report it to 415-514-4100.

How fast is the wireless network?

In all locations where wireless is available, access points support the following protocols:

  • 802.11a (54 Mbit/s)
  • 802.11b (11 Mbit/s)
  • 802.11g (54 Mbit/s)
  • 802.11n (600 Mbit/s)

These access points have separate band coverage for each of the four protocols. However, some access points are connected to the network through older network hardware that is limited to 100 Mbit/s. Consequently, in some locations wireless is restricted to slower speeds even if your device supports a faster speed. UCSF is addressing these limitations, but it is not yet known when all locations will have 802.11n speeds.

UCSFwpa is faster than UCSFguest

If you can use UCSFwpa instead of UCSFguest, we strongly encourage you to do so.

Because some devices connect to the first previously-seen access point based on its position in alphabetical order, and since UCSFguest sometimes comes before UCSFwpa in available access point lists, we recommend that you manually confirm your connection to UCSFwpa at the start of each wireless session to ensure the fastest speeds.

I’m using UCSFguest and having connection problems with an application I’m using.

In compliance with UCSF policy, UCSFguest provides a limited set of protocols that work for most needs. For details, see UCSFguest Open Wireless. If you require a port or protocol not on the permitted list, do one or more of the following:

  • If you're a visitor or guest and you're part of an organization that provides its own VPN, use it after connecting to UCSFguest.
  • If you're not a visitor or guest, you should be using UCSFwpa instead of UCSFguest where possible.
  • Send feedback to UCSF Customer Support:

When you use wireless elsewhere, it’s typically not secure

UCSF students, faculty, staff, and affiliates: When using wireless at locations other than UCSF, the wireless network provided is typically insecure. To comply with federal and state laws and UCSF policy, you must ensure that confidential data is encrypted. If you're not certain that your connection is encrypted, do either of the following:

  • Ask someone. Students: contact your program's administrative office. Faculty, staff, and affiliates: ask your computer support coordinator (CSC). If you don't have a CSC, ask your supervisor.
  • Use VPN: Log in to UCSF VPN and enable the Network Connect feature. This ensures that all data entering and leaving your device travels via the UCSF network, which UCSF considers to be safer than if the confidential data traveled unencrypted on any guest wireless network.

More details: Breaking the Web’s Cookie Jar.

Why is my device asking me to enter a password when I try to connect to wireless? Wireless used to work properly.

This is normal behavior if you're using UCSFwpa and you have recently changed your MyAccess or UCSF Exchange email password (also known as Active Directory password or AD password). After changing your password and when attempting to connect to wireless, your device will ask you to enter a password. The request is confusing because it does not tell you which password to use and because the act of connecting to wireless does not always take place immediately after you change your password, so it can be difficult to realize that the two are connected.

What password to enter: The password you should enter is your MyAccess password or your UCSF Exchange email password (also known as Active Directory password or AD password). If you can't remember which one you used, try one, and if that doesn't work, try the other. After you successfully enter a correct password, you'll again be connected to UCSFwpa.

Troubleshooting: If neither password works, separately confirm that your login and password is correct, remove the existing UCSF wireless configuration from your settings, then add it anew using the connection instructions above.

If you don't remember your MyAccess password or your UCSF Exchange email password (also known as Active Directory password or AD password), do one or both of the following:

  • MyAccess: Visit MyAccess then select the Help tab.
  • UCSF Exchange email (aka Active Directory): If you had previously set up a profile with the UCSF Password Management Tool, log in to unlock your account. Otherwise, contact the IT Service Desk at 415-514-4100 (available 24x7x365).

Traveling? Look for eduroam access points

As a member of the UCSF community, you have access to a free, global wifi network called eduroam available in thousands of locations worldwide, including many American colleges and universities. Before you travel, check coverage at your destination. To use it, when you arrive at your covered destination, select the access point called eduroam, then log in with your MyAccess login and password. More: eduroam.

Secure your wireless access point at home

If you’re not in campus housing and you’re using wireless at home, you must configure your wireless network with WPA2 or WPA encryption to comply with UCSF policy. If you’re uncertain about how to do this or how to confirm it, ask a knowledgeable friend or contact your internet service provider or the vendor of your wireless access point.

Need help? Report a problem?

To report or resolve problems, do either of the following:

  1. Visit the Technology Commons at Kalmanovitz Library CL240 during library hours, and a staff member can assist you.
  2. Contact UCSF Customer Support:

Related topic

Go to: Technology Resources or Technology Introduction