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Schools to Avoid: University of Florida 829

Posted by michael
from the vote-with-your-dollars dept.
Iphtashu Fitz writes "The University of Florida has apparently come up with a technological approach to deal with P2P file sharing on their campus networks. According to this article on wired.com they have developed a program that scans the PCs of students in the UF dorm rooms. The program, dubbed 'Icarus' not only detects P2P applications but viruses, worms, and other trojans. If a P2P application is found then an e-mail is sent to the user, a message is popped up on their screen, and their internet connection is disconnected. First time offenders lose their connection for 30 minutes. The second offense results in a 5 day loss. The third strike results in an indefinite loss of connectivity. An editorial in The Independent Florida Alligator, the student newspaper, called the use of Icarus 'an invasive and annoying system that further deters students from living in dorms (see also another story).'"
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Schools to Avoid: University of Florida

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  • by TPIRman (142895) * on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:02PM (#7126536)
    From the article: If students are mistakenly identified as violating the school's policy, the burden is on them to justify what they are researching, invading their privacy in the process, [EFF attorney Jason] Schultz said.

    In other words, innocent until proven guilty. What kind of intellectual environment is there at a university that intimidates students from conducting research? Now, you could argue that there are not many research projects that would be helped by P2P applications, but the school's definition of violations is so ethereal that the cautious, not-so-tech-savvy will be left afraid of his/her computer. Will downloading that PDF violate the bandwidth rules? Is this FTP server a file-sharing network? Your average students won't know for sure, and they won't test the limits for fear of losing their Internet privileges. These scare tactics will inevitably hinder valid academic pursuits.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      In other words, innocent until proven guilty
      EXACTLY

      Oh wait, the EXACT opposite.
    • by johnmearns (561064) <slashme@@@cyber-byte...com> on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:08PM (#7126621) Homepage
      Being unable to access the internet at all would hinder them more though. Bandwidth is expensive, and in a dorm it can easily be sucked down into nothing by p2p apps. Which is better, forbid p2p in what might prevent one or two students from doing something academic with it, allow it under the guise of academic freedom but causing a slowdown to the extent that no one else can do homework, or increase housing costs to cover the bandwidth used? Practicality is the point, not trying to be mean.
      • by andrew_0812 (592089) on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:16PM (#7126725)
        Fine. Prohibit P2P. The university owns the bandwith, they can block it, scan it, whatever. But invading the student's PC's is an invasion of privacy. This isn't even like watching employees. In a company, the PC belongs to the company, not the employee. These are the student's personal computers. The school has absolutely no right to scan the systems. The student is therefore totally liable for anything illegal found on that PC. The university should limit its power to scanning internet traffic.
        • by E-Rock (84950) on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:39PM (#7127008) Homepage
          If you think admins are bad about patching computers, most students don't even know that it is possible. Scanning the machines has become a requirement. Trust me, there's no budget or staff allocated for something like this, but they HAVE TO DO IT or else the campus network is flooded with crap from these machines. It's also part of the TOS to connect your PC to the campus network.
        • by ePhil_One (634771) on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:43PM (#7127052) Journal
          The school has absolutely no right to scan the systems.

          They are conducting port scans, not installing agents like AdAware or AntiVirus. And I'm sure there was an appropriate clause in the TOS the students agreed to that says the students consent to it. If they don't like it the can call up their own ISP and not connect to the school network.

          Basically, its the schools network, they can use it as they please.

          • Bzzz. (Score:4, Informative)

            by mikedaisey (413058) on Friday October 03, 2003 @04:25PM (#7127510) Homepage

            Actually, they are looking inside the computers themselves, identifying files, viruses and apps.
            • School must protect it's systems from viruses and trojans. Also, must protect itself from lawsuits from the RIAA. I'm sure the contract these students signed when they enrolled spelled this all out.
            • Re:Bzzz. (Score:4, Informative)

              by omega_cubed (219519) <wongwwy.member@ams@org> on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:54PM (#7128321) Journal
              Is it really possible to "scan inside the computer"? I know that with many of my peers, the computer is so poorly locked down that anyone on the subnet can get read/write priv. to their Windows boxes. But there are also a great number who pay attention to such things. And wouldn't bypassing security/privacy for PC's constitute cyber-crime?

              Since the article didn't really elaborate, my best guess is that for Icarus to be legit, all they can really do is to do a port scan on the machines. The "worms and viruses" they refer too often open up otherwise unused ports, and the classic 6*** ports used by P2P apps can be easily determined.

              The article mentions that
              Icarus then scans their computer, detects any worms, viruses or programs that act as a server, such as Kazaa.
              One way to read is the program scans the computer's contents and look for files, viruses and apps. Another way to look at it is the program scans the computer's ports and see if there's anything listening on ports that is "not allowed" to be open, i.e. worms that act as servers, viruses that act as servers AND apps that act as servers.

              My school implemented a similar policy last year, when they monitor the traffic going to and from common p2p ports, and only allow us to have one upload going on at a given time. (The school acknowledges the legit uses of p2p, and so long as you don't violate copyright, you are wellcome to use it, if you do not overburden the university network. It was a purely bandwidth issue.) Other servers, such as the ones for games, or http or ftp (and as far as I can tell, SMTP too) are left to the owner's discretion.

              My reading of the article is that the school created nothing more than an automated Portscan->Winpopup->Email->Access-Shutdow n system.

              On a different note, I found it quite perculiar that no student have spoken up against UF's guilty until proven innocent stance. And blocking LAN games? That hardly consumes any bandwidth (going in and out of the university infrastructure), and I certainly hope that the Dorms are not so crowded that half a dozen guys playing Unreal Tournament drags down the network for the entire building! If that's the case, you wouldn't want to live there to start with.

              Then again, I loved the quote
              The no file-servers policy has actually been in place for several years because several enterprising students had used the university network covertly to run their own commercial websites, some of which were illegal, according to Bird.


              "One of the more popular websites for creating fake IDs was run off one of the student computers in the residence halls," he said. "It was up for about a month and a half. That example highlights exactly what you don't want to happen.

              "The peer-to-peer file-sharing policy is a direct extension of that," he said.
              Yep. University life should be just like real life. We banned the making of bicycles because some hoodlum terrorized pedestrians and committed robbery on one.

              W
          • Actually, you are required to use the schools internet if your on campus.

            bastards dont allow outside lines to come in, or else i would have dsl right now:-p(school network sucks for just about everythign including web browsing)
        • The university owns the bandwith, they can block it, scan it, whatever.

          Try again. The taxpayers of Florida own that bandwidth.

          But invading the student's PC's is an invasion of privacy. This isn't even like watching employees. In a company, the PC belongs to the company, not the employee. These are the student's personal computers. The school has absolutely no right to scan the systems. The student is therefore totally liable for anything illegal found on that PC. The university should limit its power

          • by pz (113803) on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:59PM (#7127229) Journal
            Try again. The taxpayers of Florida own that bandwidth.

            There is a large difference between paying for something and owning it. While I do not have the UF charter at my fingertips (does anyone? could you look this up, please?) universities typically recieve grants from various levels of government and governmental agencies (in addition to private funds, proceeds from endowment, tuition fees, licensing fees, etc.) which is money given to the schools, mostly to do with what they will. The Florida tax payers may, ultimately, foot much of the bill for operating UF, but the University embodied in its board of regents, trustees, or overseers (depending on the charter) is the owner of things like infrastructure, physical plant, real and intellectual property, and so forth. Therefore the University does own the bandwidth.

            But then, I'm just an academician who's spent his adult life in various university settings, not a lawyer. (And I agree with the rest of the parent posting.)
          • > > The university owns the bandwith, they can block it, scan it, whatever.
            >
            > Try again. The taxpayers of Florida own that bandwidth.

            Just like your boss owns your house and car and everything else you bought with the money paid to you from him.

            The taxpayers give money to the school for it to do with as it wishes.
            What the school spends it on is a seperate issue.

            'paycheck' or 'govt grant' it doesnt matter. money has exchanged hands and it is no longer the taxpayers once the school gets it. Th
        • by Badmovies (182275) on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:44PM (#7127070) Homepage
          I doubt that they are actually hacking into the computer. More likely, Icarus checks to see what ports are open on a computer and then makes a determination which services (where services might be a worm, P2P, etc) are associated with those ports.

          Colleges do not have the money to support servers (which is what P2P makes a computer, really) on their network. The college network is there for students to do research. If 90% of the resources are sucked up by P2P, I can see their point. Want to be a P2P junkie? Fine, get your own personal setup on dial-up, cable modem, or DSL.
          • by C10H14N2 (640033) on Friday October 03, 2003 @07:41PM (#7129188)
            Students are already paying considerably more than the market rates for their rooms. If the universities can't cough up decent network services equivalent to what is commercially available, they simply need to outsource and stop crying. This "we just can't afford it" is bullshit.

            If students can get ostensibly unlimited use of DSL for $50/month from the local telco, there is no reason the university cannot approximate that service even if that means having the local telco wire the buildings and offload the res.net from their domain and stop bitching about it entirely. Of course, outsourced services fall prey to the constant and overt mark-up rackets and micro-kingdom vanity that universities so irrationally cherish.

            If you have 7,500 students signed-up for residential service and $50/month is extracted from each, thats $375,000 per month, far and beyond well enough for a 10G connection that would allow every single student a sustained 1Mb/s link with LOTS of breathing room. Say they only pay for eight months a year, that's still $3,000,000 or $250,000 per month. If they can't get enough bandwidth for less than a quarter million a month, whoever is in charge needs to be fired immediately. Ok, so in Florida's case, they pay for DHNet out of the rents. Fine. A single occupancy room costs $2675 per semester, or, about $643 per month in a city where studio apartments run more like $400/month. I would gander they could find fifty bucks a month in there somewhere or they could just explicitly charge for network services.
            http://www.housing.ufl.edu/housing/GenInfo_Stats.h tm [ufl.edu]

            They simply have no excuse to brow beat students to protect their pathetic service levels when cheap commercial alternatives are available that could easily be integrated into university housing and when minimal access fees would pay for obscene amounts of bandwidth. So they dropped their usage by 85% by being draconian. Great, I could cut traffic on Los Angeles freeways by jack-knifing a tractor-trailer on at the I-405/10 interchange. Doesn't mean it solved the problem. It's a racket. Screw 'em.
        • by nurb432 (527695)
          Its in school owned facilities, and you sign away privacy rights when you move in anyway..

          its THEIR place.. not yours.. and they have the right to prevent illegal acts on their property.

          Should they do this, no. its in bad taste, but legally they can..
    • by 4iedBandit (133211) on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:27PM (#7126875) Homepage
      What kind of intellectual environment is there at a university that intimidates students from conducting research?

      So you want to complain about it? How about offering a valid solution? P2P apps soak up bandwidth. Viruses soak up bandwidth. Johnny Student is sharing 500 gigs of dvd's from his PC, and Jane Student has every virus known to man on her PC. Those two students alone are soaking up the available bandwidth and denying other students the ability to conduct legitimate research.

      What kind of intellectual environment does not monitor their network to ensure that it remains available for legitimate use? If you want unhindered P2P, get a private connection. If you can't be bothered to protect your computer from viruses, get a private connection. Why shouldn't people face the consequences for their actions? Why should the truely innocent users pay for the abuse of those who can't be bothered to think of anyone but themselves?

      There is only one body that can ensure that the campus network remains viable for all students. That's the campus body that runs the networks.

      It's no surprise that any research requiring an inordinate amount of resources has to be justified. If the student is really researching something and they require more bandwidth, they should either justify it to the university or get their own private connection.

      They may be paying for use of the network, but so are the hundres (or thousands) of other students. Bandwidth is not unlimited and the campus agency responsible for it has to make sure it's available for legitimate purposes.

      • by Stackis (308395) on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:55PM (#7127178) Homepage
        I work for the UC system as a Sys Admin, and couldn't agree w/you more. Too many students seem to plug their machines into the Resnet, and not bother about AV software, or the bandwidth wasted when they share large files over the network. I think what U of F is doing is nothing but protecting their network from the inevitable...
      • by James Lewis (641198) on Friday October 03, 2003 @04:00PM (#7127240)
        The issue here is the invasion of privacy. There are plenty of ways to control bandwidth usage without doing this. My college (Ga Tech) had huge problems with p2p software taking up all available bandwidth. For about two semesters the pings were 1000 even to across the street, and the network was almost unusable because of this. Finally Ga Tech did something smart: they updated the hubs so that they could limit everyone to 60 kb/sec upload on a port by port basis. The vast majority of traffic created by P2P is from uploading. Now everything runs smooth.
      • by bishiraver (707931) on Friday October 03, 2003 @04:27PM (#7127529) Homepage
        Or other, relatively low-bandwidth server applications - like a MUD, or a small 8user, private game server? These are relatively low bandwidth, especially the MUD example, and do not interfere with legit research access to the internet.

        You say they can't possibly be legit if they're running a server that would be caught by Icarus. Think of this:

        -You're a student running a cvs tree off your box for an open source project. You get shut down because of the ports being used.

        -You're a student writing some kind of server application for a computer science degree. You decide that it works well enough to run it on your own box so you can more easily monitor it. You get bumped off the 'net for doing research.

        -You set up a private Natural Selection server and only give the password to people on campus. While this isn't "legit" like the other two examples, it does not use the external bandwidth of the university - only the internal LAN bandwidth. They pay for the hardware to accomplish this, not the bandwidth used like an external connection. While it's not "legit" per se, it really isn't that harmful either.

        -You decide to run SSH on your box in your dorm room, so you can access files and applications on your personal computer from anywhere on the university, with your ssh client diskette. Even though I commute to college, I use this method to truck files back and forth to class without the headache of an ftp server or using an external storage space, like a web server. Not to mention, it's faster than uploading it to a web server.

        All of these are actions which would result in your network rights revoked at this university. While it fixes one problem, it creates many, many more. It's not viable, and I'm just glad I didn't decide to transfer to Florida ;)
      • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw@y a h o o . c om> on Friday October 03, 2003 @04:38PM (#7127644) Journal
        "So you want to complain about it? How about offering a valid solution?"

        OK, here's one: it's called QoS on a switched network. Instead of saying "everyone gets 100Mb connectivity, more than enough to saturate our single T3, each", set the network to only allow 500kb per LAN drop. Simple solution, and solves the problem nicely without having to poke around inside students' computers.

        At the same time, monitor bandwidth usage on a per port basis (gee, too bad there isn't a free multi-router traffic grapher [ee.ethz.ch] out there somewhere). Any user that consistently pegs their bandwidth cap gets a stern talking to from the local network honchos.
  • by garcia (6573) * on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:02PM (#7126543) Homepage
    Last spring, the university received about 40 notices of copyright violations per month. At peak file-trading periods, 90 percent of the traffic on the housing network was peer-to-peer. In an average 24-hour period, 3,500 of the 7,500 students in the residence halls would use P2P services like Kazaa.

    Unfortunately you are on their network, thus your computer becomes part of their network (on campus). If you don't like the policy (and you are warned when you sign up for the DHCP access) don't connect to the network. If you don't think that ISPs are scanning computers for viruses, trojans, etc, you're wrong. I worked for ATTBI and there were quite a few people (calling in to me alone) that were infected with some sort of trojan/virus and they had been automatically disabled.

    P2P applications should be blocked at colleges. Colleges are not houses of endless bandwith... 40 copyright violations a month is a pain in the ass to deal w/ (especially in this day and age). 90% of the traffic was P2P? What about Quake pings (when I was in college that's what I was concerned with) what about downloads of legitimate software? Hah, nope, just get your P2P porn movies and the latest DiVX of The Matrix Trilogy...

    School to Avoid??? I would have avoided it when 90% of the bandwith was being sucked up by people sharing MP3s and porn, now maybe the bandwith is reliable and useful for stuff other than loading Google.

    As far as it is detering students from living in the dorms... I have heard nothing but problems with overcrowding in dorms (3 to a room instead of 2, people living in converted lounges, being housed in hotels/motels until space becomes available, etc). You think that Universities really care about not having people in the dorms?

    This is not an invasion. This is reality. College editorials are always biased bullshit. Please move along.
    • oh yeah, thats definitally a troll...

      dont mod him down, tell him why he is wrong (he isnt by the way, its their network and they can do what they want to... including pulling the plug)
    • I think the reason to avoid UofF was because of its invasive approach to controlling the network. Their app takes advantage of loose shares. The university I attend has used packetshapers quite successfully to control P2P bandwidth and their new 'Vernier Login' system keeps infected systems from chewing up the remaining sliver of bandwidth.
      While I personally got so sick of the new system that I switched over to cable, I understand their need. The way the Vernier system works is your machine is assigned a
    • by LostCluster (625375) on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:12PM (#7126683)
      This really is a matter of people being given an inch, then taking a mile, and wondering why they're being pushed back now.

      If you play by the rules, campus Internet access is a beautiful thing. However, it's the P2P bandwidth hogs that ruin the party for everyone.

      There's no need for P2P to download anything when you've got such a fast connection to Internet2 at your fingertips. Either your school or one nearby will have all the Linux ISOs and other free-to-download programs you'll ever need.
    • You think that Universities really care about not having people in the dorms?

      Hell yes. Most universities require freshmen and even sophomores to live in the dorms citing various "campus involvement" aspects of university-run housing. The price of a dorm room (anywhere from $5k to $10k a year for a crappy double room) generally makes the real intent behind such policies crystal-clear.

      Besides, if a university routinely does things that piss off the student body, there's a good chance that the university
      • by garcia (6573) * on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:32PM (#7126947) Homepage
        IT does give a shit about the students. They are allowing everyone to use the bandwith for legitimate purposes.

        You are receiving what you are paying for... AN EDUCATION. I didn't realize that paying for college necessitated a fast P2P pipe for getting porn, movies, and music.

        I guess things have changed since I graduated way back in 2001.

        • They are allowing everyone to use the bandwith for legitimate purposes.

          Not really. As a rule, IT should not meddle with anything that only involves downloading. That can be done much more easily -- shut off major consumers of uplink bandwidth, firewall kazaa upload traffic, use something like PacketHound to block uploads, and so on. In no case should they actively portscan and automatically block computers.
    • by Xerithane (13482) <xerithaneNO@SPAMnerdfarm.org> on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:23PM (#7126835) Homepage Journal
      Respect to you garcia. Great post. It is their network, and this is great software. I hope they release this open source so more people can implement it.

      If P2P had more valid uses, and wasn't used 99.9% of the time for copyright violations than I would disagree with you. Until a P2P network that only allows "free" material, you have no business using a schools bandwidth for it.
    • by cybermace5 (446439) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:34PM (#7126969) Homepage Journal
      I 100 percent agree with you on this. UoF's killing P2P and trojans/worms on the campus network should be a reason to consider going there more, if anyone's looking.

      Let me tell a little story. Napster arrived during my second year of college (a small highly-acclaimed private engineering school). Bandwidth didn't suffer too badly, we had 1500 students on the network with mandatory laptops, and though we maxed out our dual T1's we were still able surf the web and get halfway decent ping rates.

      The next year, Kazaa and friends arrived, along with the new freshman laptops with large, empty hard drives. Within weeks, the campus network was unusable. You literally could not surf the web, research online journals, download drivers and development software and other legit uses of the network. No one even tried gaming. Yet, the bandwidth leeches could open a hundred connections and download music at useful rates...it was only the legit applications suffering here. I actually dialed my laptop out to a local ISP in order to get better access.

      The situation was so bad, the computing center had to call a "town meeting" to try to work out what the problem was, and allay the obvious anger that many students felt at being able to download at rates less than 2K/s. Hundreds of students showed up, standing room only, it went overtime. The upshot was that a couple months later, our bandwidth was doubled to four T1 lines.

      The fun lasted for about two days. After that, the situtation was just as bad. Then our computing department took action: they ran traffic analysis and determined what the percentages were. Over 70% of our bandwidth was going to Kazaa. The top 10 bandwidth users were accounting for over 50% of of the bandwidth. We were notified that traffic shaping was immediately going into effect; during daytime hours the traffic determined to be "non-essential" would be throttled to something like 10%, and it would rise to something like 30% max during the night and weekends. A couple people got their ports disabled, and all "non-essential" traffic was disabled in the classrooms. Apparently, since we had ethernet ports at every desk, a lot of filesharing was going on during classtime!

      The effect was instant: pure heaven. Fast page loads, excellent ping times, no more dropped connections. P2P was the worst thing to happen to the college network scene. I happen to know that some of my work was affected by being unable to do research as quickly, since many of the electronic journals we had access to were hosted online. I think the best thing a college can do is block or reduce P2P programs, and let students do what they ostensibly are at college for.
      • I will completely agree with you in turn. I'm lucky enough to be good friends with a few of the more intelligent denizens of the computing center at my college, so I get to hear all of the story-behind-the-story as well.

        My freshman year was the Year of the Napster, though in the last few months of its existence I felt the pain of my college's pipe when trying to do the simplest things, like typing over ssh. It was simply unusable. They throttled by ports, and the person in charge of it was (and still is)
    • It is a school to avoid. My university had bandwidth limits per 5 days. Something like 500 megs every 5 days, if you were over that limit you were placed in restricted bandwidth where you could read webpages slowly, but not download anything large. This worked perfectly to stop students from downloading excessively.

      The biggest problem is NOT p2p, it is ignorance. The students get a fresh computer with lots of storage space, and a fast internet connection. They download too much crap, and then leave
  • Scared? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by giantsfan89 (536448) <linuxwebguy@gmai ... m minus math_god> on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:02PM (#7126544) Homepage Journal
    Sounds like they might be a little scared of lawsuits. I'd think that colleges don't have that much budget for a legal team.
  • E-mail? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Exiler (589908) on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:03PM (#7126547)
    Wow, what a wonderous world we live in where students can recieve e-mail when their internet connection is hosed *goes wide eyed*
    • Re:E-mail? (Score:3, Informative)

      Internet connection, not network connection. They'd still be connected to all the internal servers so they could receive e-mail. Just their access to the outside world via the Internet gateway would be blocked.
  • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:03PM (#7126563) Homepage Journal
    From the Wired article:
    "We needed something to stem the flow. We were spending too much time tracking people down," said Robert Bird, supervisor of network services for the UF department of housing.

    So a guy named Bird creates (read: has some overworked grad student create) a program called Icarus to "bring down" file sharers. I guess he imagined his program being like the sun melting the wax on the mythical Icarus' wings [wikipedia.org] and sending him crashing back to earth. And Bird himself, of course, would be the sun-wary Daedelus [wikipedia.org], who after trying out flight himself, hung up his wings as an offering to Apollo.

    I guess he's now a flightless Bird. The old story about the ostrich sticking his head in the sand comes to mind.
  • by caluml (551744) <slashdot AT spam ... OT calum DOT org> on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:04PM (#7126573) Homepage
    How long before Unis demand that all computers on one of their networks join one of their administered domains, with Domain Admins in the local Admins group, or with one of their public SSH key in /root/.ssh/authorized_keys2 for *nix boxes?
    Logins tested every day at random times. Should a login fail, box comes off network.
  • Icarus (Score:5, Funny)

    by mopslik (688435) on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:04PM (#7126574)

    The program, dubbed 'Icarus'

    What are the odds that this program is running on a Sun machine?

    • Re:Icarus (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Houn (590414)
      Interesting Note, aside from Icarus being the stupid Greek boy that flew too close to the sun, I'm reminded of the game Deus Ex; one of the AI Programs that the Govt. developed to spy and gather information from all over the networks was Icarus.

      So, being big gamers, I'm guessing they won't care when 90% of there traffic is CS and BF1942?
  • by SnowDeath (157414) <peteguhl@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:04PM (#7126576) Homepage
    So, what happens if a kid brings their netgear MR814 router with them and every time he gets cut off, he simply changes the Internet-side MAC address of the router through the handy-dandy html-based admin tool?
    • As a former resident of the UF dorms, I can answer this question. The last time someone hooked a router into a dorm room connection, they blew out the entire building's network connection for several days.

      The Division of Housing does NOT look kindly upon someone who so much as mentions the word 'router' in their hearing.
    • by LostCluster (625375) on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:15PM (#7126715)
      You're still screwed. The lockdown can be placed at the switch port(s) that leads to your room. Can't spoof those without breaking into the locked closet... which hopefully the RA should be able to stop.
    • If they're like my university, they link your DHCP registration and your MAC address to your email username or student ID and limit how many you can register. We are allowed 2, unless you complain, which is why they let me have 5. (I now have a FreeBSD box set up as a NAT gateway, so it isn't really relevant anymore.)
    • Common practice at colleges is you have to have your MAC address registered to get an IP address through DHCP.

      You could try taking someone else's MAC address, but you'd probably get noticied fairly quickly, and be in a lot of trouble.
    • So, what happens if a kid brings their netgear MR814 router with them and every time he gets cut off, he simply changes the Internet-side MAC address of the router through the handy-dandy html-based admin tool?

      At the University of Rochester, we had to register our MAC addresses with ITS. Plugging a non-registered MAC address into the network resulted in that network port being shut down for ~30 minutes within about 30 seconds of plugging the ethernet cable in.
    • Most of these networks have DHCP servers that rely on MAC addresses. Basically, if you change your MAC address, the DHCP server won't give you an Internet IP, they'll give you 10.x.x.x, allowing you to communicate only with a webserver that takes your University login/pass.

      After you sign up, it ties your University ID to your MAC address. I'd imagine they're not going to allow you to register a new MAC address if you're currently suspended.

      On the other hand, if you don't use DHCP, and define everyth
    • by redcup (441955) on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:26PM (#7126872)
      I used to work at the helpdesk at my school, so I can tell you this would most likely have no effect.

      To give a real example from my university: By default, all the network jacks are on, and if you use it and don't pay for the dorm internet connection, it gets cut off after a week. If it is never used, it is left on (this helped reduce the mess of getting everyone set up the first week in the fall).

      One day in the middle of the spring semester, we detected port scanning from a student townhouse dorm, coming from an unregistered jack (the townhouse had 4 of them, 2 of which were being paid for). The jack was still on because it was previously unused. Solution? We simply had the NOC kill the jack.

      The student had switched the jack his computer was connected to, thinking it would prevent us from tracking him down. He was half right - perhaps we couldn't say which student in the townhouse was doing it. If he had a router behind it, we didn't need to know - the jack was all we cared about.

      Lo and behold, within a few minutes one of the students at that room called up to say his network connection had died. It was hilarious... it was practically a confession. Of course he denied it, but refused my offer to come over and check his computer since it was port scanning without his knowledge. We let him off with a warning, and to the best of my knowledge, he didn't do it again.
  • Where's the beaf? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stevew (4845)
    So the university has taken a pro-active to insure that they're hardware isn't used in the commission of a crime - and people don't like it.

    Now I KNOW that not all P2P users are copying music - but MOST are.

    Further, you probably sign a usage agreemnt when you connect up to the school's network saying that you won't due anything illegal. All the university is doing is holding you to that agreement.

    I don't see a problem here

    • "So the university has taken a pro-active to insure that they're hardware isn't used in the commission of a crime - and people don't like it."

      You could equally protect the students against slander charges by cutting out their tongues. P2P systems are no more criminal than is your webserver, your email client, your word processor, or your conversations at the pub.

      There are a certain class of people who dislike Peer-to-peer networking, and are trying to compare it with everything from copyright infringemen
      • There are a certain class of people who dislike Peer-to-peer networking, and are trying to compare it with everything from copyright infringement to illegal pornography to terrorism to try and get rid of it.

        I compare it to riding on the short bus.

        Yeah, you may not be retarded but everybody else is. Chances are everyone thinks you are, too.

        (Just like Slashdot)

  • Our school offers VPN access and I'm sure most other Universities do also for off campus students. Simply keep your RESNET box connected to the VPN and voila.

    Show your hate for SCO [anti-tshirts.com]. Get a cool t-shirt and donate to the Open Source Now Fund.

    • Not quite sure what that gets you... they simply can lock you out at the network switch in the closet. Your wire is effectively cut, and you go bye-bye...
  • Firewall them! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EvilNight (11001) on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:05PM (#7126588)
    Set up a firewall on some old P166, build your own subnet, and lock them out. It's not hard. Mandrake MNF or Astaro are great for this sort of thing. Run a VPN between you and your friends in the dorm. Heck there's lots of fun to be had there.
  • I imagine like a lot of other big schools, there is a huge market for off campus housing. And by off campus, I mean on campus or just off campus, not far away, usually just houses rented out by the room to students. Does UF have this? If so, students can just give the school the finger and live somewhere else.
  • Bring on the inter-dorm wireless networks, then.
  • Back when I was in college, a friend of mine had roommate problems. So the usual things were done against the offending person: clothes out the window, salt water in the monitor, calls at all hours of the morning. You know, kid stuff.

    But installing P2P on his computer would be even better. He would lose his Internet connection, and if he was really lucky, get sued by the RIAA!

  • iptables (Score:3, Informative)

    by Feyr (449684) * on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:07PM (#7126612) Journal
    i'm not sure what they expect to do with this thing, but it wouldn't be that hard to fire up tcpdump and get a range of "management" ips. you then block those ips from connecting to your computer with iptables/ipchains/ipfwadm/windows firewall/your favorite bagel. that and it surely won't stop hardcore downloader from logging on IRC and downloading from there (surely everyone know only newbies use kazaa, the rest are still on irc)

    they can try to block losers, but they won't get the truly geek. and i sure wouldn't accept any violation of MY privacy and limiting legitimate uses (private servers,game servers, research projects, name it)

    and before i get blasted into oblivion, no i don't use kazaa et al, my music is all legitimately got from www.emusic.com, go check it out


  • So I guess the first question that comes to my mind is, will a products such as ZoneAlarm [zonelabs.com] stop this? And if so ... will any penalties result from blocking?

  • One student who asked not to be named said he was upset that he can no longer play LAN games with friends on his floor. Last year, he would regularly joust with 15 others, but the school restricts using a computer as a server, so he's given up the activity.

    Can't they set up a WiFi net of their own? Seems like that would permit gaming at least.

  • Good for them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:10PM (#7126647)
    Using the campus network from dorms is a privledge, not a right. UofF has not only the right but the responsibility to ensure that their network resources are protected, not only from without but from within as well.

    If students want to file share (legit or otherwise), or game, or whatever, without restrictions, they can drop the cash for DSL or cable.
    • Re:Good for them (Score:3, Interesting)

      by El Cubano (631386)

      ...they can drop the cash for DSL or cable.

      Just out of curiosity, what ISP is going to roll out broadband to a university dorm? That is like a non-existent market.

    • Re:Good for them (Score:4, Insightful)

      by argmanah (616458) <argmanah@NOsPam.yahoo.com> on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:51PM (#7127132)
      If students want to file share (legit or otherwise), or game, or whatever, without restrictions, they can drop the cash for DSL or cable.
      Your argument would be sound if the student had a choice of providers. If I as a student had the right to refuse the terms of service provided by my University, and get an alternative provider instead, I would agree, the University should be able to create whatever policies it wants. But since the University is basically shoving this down the throats of the students, forcing them to pay for it without offering them a choice, I have a problem with them getting a blank check on how they set their policies.

      Plus, back when I was in school, our land lines ran through a proprietary on-campus system (you could dial 5 digits for on-campus calls), so no DSL was available. Our cable ran through the campus cable system, so no CM was available.

      Given that I could not get DSL or cable as alternative access, and I was forced to pay the "Technology Fee" whether I used the ethernet access or not, you can be sure I would have raised hell if they tried to pull this kind of nonsense back in the day.

      Provided you have the grades and the motivation, I consider a college education to be a right (one which the government agrees with, if you look at all the grants and scholarships given based on need). A public school should not have the right to invade a student's privacy with scans of their machines in a situation where a student is forced to pay for the service, under a threat of "If you don't like it, go somewhere else for college."

  • It is news like this which causes me to drink more Dew. More and more ISPs (whether they are colleges or corportations) are acting as Big Brother to their subscribers. There was a story a while ago which talked about ISPs acting as a firewall for the stupid. Well, now we have them looking out for our interests by tracking down virii, trojans, P2P. I guess one could see as vaguely similar to how cable companies control what is fed to their viewers. Great. Can't wait till Roadrunner picks up this featu
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:11PM (#7126656)
    I am currently a sophomore at the University of FL who works part time as part of the campus network ops group. This provides me an intimate knowledge of how Icarus works.

    Icarus is a VB application which attempts to connect to the standard ports used by the various P2P apps. If it is able to connect to one of these ports, the IP is marked as suspect in the central DB.

    Addresses marked as suspect are then sniffed, and all packets going to and from that IP are logged to a central server. The RIAA has already subponeaed most of this data for further analysis (and more lawsuits, I would expect).

    Hope this helps
    -sk
    • by numatrix (242325) on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:54PM (#7127167)
      That's nice, but you didn't tell them the whole story. I work at the as one of only three full-time security people for the whole university, so you probably know me. Let me fill in the gap.

      The system is more than just a port scanner. If you think you can evade it simply by blocking probes, you're dead wrong. The system is more than that, it also incorporates passive monitoring. Here's a hint. There ain't no way to disguise high bandwidth. No encryption, no port changes, nothing that will hide that. If you're downloading massive amounts of data, you will be found. Period.

      Also, for those people who are arguing about morality, ethics, service, responsibility, priveledges, whatever, it's a moot point.

      When you move into the campus housing, you sign a legal document to the effect that you will not run P2P. No, it's not illegal to run it, but it ~is~ a violation of your living agreement, and housing is well within their rights to shut you off or take other action for P2P or abuse of services (as many other posters have noted, the few that abuse the service often make it unusable for those who legitimately need it).
      • by techno-vampire (666512) on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:25PM (#7128046) Homepage
        The system is more than just a port scanner. If you think you can evade it simply by blocking probes, you're dead wrong. The system is more than that, it also incorporates passive monitoring. Here's a hint. There ain't no way to disguise high bandwidth. No encryption, no port changes, nothing that will hide that. If you're downloading massive amounts of data, you will be found. Period.

        This makes me feel much better about the program. The original article made it look like it was actually examining the computers for the programmers. This is more like keeping a log of what phone numbers call in and which get called without recording the conversations. Still something of an invasion of privacy, but not as obtrusive as it appeared.

        I agree that you have to search out and stop those that waste bandwith on such things, but wouldn't it be easier just to block those ports at your own routers? I know some ISPs block outgoing connections to port 25 to prevent spammers from relaying through open SMTP servers. Couldn't you just block the appropriate ports and be done with it?

      • by rossz (67331)
        When you move into the campus housing, you sign a legal document to the effect that you will not run P2P.
        Except that stripped to it's basic definition, the internet is nothing but P2P apps. What does a browser do? It requests a file from another computer. Same with email.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I am the architect of ICARUS, and I felt a need to address some of the overall comments in this thread as I have watched them develop.

        0. Downloading large files, etc. will never trigger ICARUS. This is not a simple matching system, by any means.
        1. ICARUS is not some magic bullet super scanner. We use, and promote all open source tools, open source operating systems and free speech. We do not install a client package, we do not "hack" systems and we do not look at files, process tables, etc. on the client s
      • Ok, so lets say I SSH tunnel to an offsite server and do all my stuff through this tunnel. Sure, I may use a lot of bandwidth, but it's all encrypted and you have NO proof what I'm sending is non-academic. Hell, I could be transferring video files for a presentation for class. How could you tell?

        I think you'd have a hard time prosecuting in court without proof of what was actually being transferred...
  • Yeesh, this is one school that is ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING about the problem.

    My Niece went to college this fall and her "100mb/s" connection in her dorm room was running slower than the 56k elcheapo modem we installed so she'd have fax/voiceline answering machine capability.

    I checked her system (worked fine) then put my packet sniffer in the wall socket and it just about fried! The university support puppy tracked it down to some students shairing movie files.

    I'm emailing this story to them.
  • Wouldn't a good firewall prevent this sort of program?

    Maybe I'm missing something here but it seems to me it would be easy to defeat.
  • Icarus (Score:2, Troll)

    by CGP314 (672613)
    When students first register on the network, they are required to read about peer-to-peer networks and certify that they will not share copyright files.

    Yup. That's the only thing P2P is good for: downloading copyrighted files. Certainly no one like me would use it to share GPLed software.

    Somehow I'm sure Icarus cares not about that distinction.

    "When we turned the program on, our bandwidth usage dropped by 85 percent," said Norbert Dunkel, director of housing and residence education for the univer
  • by *weasel (174362) on Friday October 03, 2003 @03:35PM (#7126974)

    Because Daedalus was the worrywort engineer who kept trying to prevent Icarus from flying to close to the sun and getting himself in trouble?

    It'd be a much better analogy from that angle - as it would equate the file sharers to Icarus, the wings to Kazaa and the Sun to the RIAA.

    Calling the watchdog app Icarus... well it's just begging to fall into the Ocean and drown.

    or maybe that was their actual intent...
  • by Ilan Volow (539597) on Friday October 03, 2003 @04:24PM (#7127497) Homepage

    When the less technically-inclined students unfamiliar with geek lingo start getting e-mails informing them they have trojans, I can only imagine what kind of responses the IT department will get.
  • by Nucleon500 (628631) <tcfelker@example.com> on Friday October 03, 2003 @04:26PM (#7127514) Homepage
    P2P causes a lot of traffic and is expensive, and often results in C&D letters. Obviously colleges have an incentive to get it off their network, or at least throttle it. But there are much better ways.

    Florida's current solution is much too invasive, and not very effective. Does the app run in Linux? Wine? Mac? Limiting operating system choices is a very bad thing for a university, especially for the computer science students who are trying to widen their experience.

    It's also not effective. What's to stop someone from running the spyware in an emulator? Renaming their P2P programs?

    The problem is that a university network has untrusted (in the security usage) clients. But it's not a problem: It's easy to tell who's running P2P programs, and who's infected, centrally. This is more effective and less limiting.

  • Uhh, non-issue? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SmurfButcher Bob (313810) on Friday October 03, 2003 @04:48PM (#7127728) Journal
    Last time I checked... my network, my terms. No excuses, no exceptions. I don't allow people who visit my building to join their typhoid-mary laptops to my network, ever. I don't allow our employees who bring their typhoid-mary laptops to join my network, ever. If the box is out of my control, its hostile. Period. (Welcome to Windows, btw...)

    A college LAN is different, why... exactly... the school is accountable for the network, and therefore must have authority over it. OTOH, with a student who has no accountability for its use, HOW can they have any authority over how it's used? Would YOU accept being on the wrong end of that relationship? With someone else using your stuff? And you're responsible for the results?

    Problem is... students have full authority, and it's pretty much unchecked. So, FL is implementing a measure of accountability. Yep, real far-fetched.

    And sure, a few knee-jerks will say that the students pay for the school, and that money allows the network to exist, so it's theirs.

    And god bless 'em. Here, we've got a couple hundred thousand people per year who cause our income, so the next time you walk into a business... just sit down at a keyboard, and start typing. See how far your "I paid for this" argument gets you in court. No, really... see if they buy it.

  • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Friday October 03, 2003 @04:48PM (#7127730) Journal
    I disagree with scanning people's PCs.

    However, P2P sharing is the *worst* thing your network can be beset with. The leeches hog incredible amounts of bandwidth. Kazaa et al. are also very network hostile with measures to get around a sysadmin's attempt to shape traffic.

    It takes more and more admin time just blocking malware and P2P music sharing. The university network is there primarily for academic purposes, not wholesale music piracy.

    It's a frigging nightmare. If I were a University admin, my goal would be to not block ports or traffic because I want proper end-to-end connectivity. But then you get the cancer that is Kazaa which actively tries to evade your attempts at sharing traffic. The only route left for the admin is a strict anti-music sharing policy. If only the leeches could control themselves instead of getting not only their mouths in the trough, but their front trotters too, it wouldn't be such a big deal. But of course, they show no restraint.

    If I were a university admin, I'd make it very plain what the policy is when students get their connection. The policy would be no music sharing, no spam, no malware (if you want to share legitimate music, then you either put it on the music department's website or rent your own server). Anyone caught sharing music otherwise would have their account locked and would have to come to me for a bollocking. Three offences and it'd be disciplinary action.
  • by geekwench (644364) on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:29PM (#7128072)
    Having read the effin' articles (and no, I'm not new here), I find this policy reprehensible. Moreover, I find the overall /. reaction a bit -- hypocritical, not to put too fine a point on it.


    1)UF has instituted a ban on any and all file sharing, regardless of intent or content.
    2)UF is scanning students' private computers to look for violations.

    Slashdot reaction: No problem; these damn kids are just downloading music and pr0n anyway. (And, they'll be competing with us for tech jobs once they graduate, so three cheers for them getting hosed!)

    [rant] Excuse me? Is this the same place that collectively does the wave when the RIAA comes up against any sort of opposition? The same place that actively discussed hacking Sen. Orrin Hatch's website when he advocated developing spyware, and remotely destroying the computer of anyone caught with copyrighted files? Did my DSL open up a wormhole, and somehow I've managed to log onto the Bizarro World's .\ ?? [/rant]

    *regains composure* Yes, I'm certain that college dorms are hotbeds for distributing copyrighted MP3s. So is off-campus housing. The fact is, there are many legitimate uses for P2P. The person trying to obtain public domain photographs for a history research project is tarred with the same brush as those trying to download the collected works of Britney Spears. Someone sending a friend a shareware MP3 (provided by the band for the purpose of downloading) suffers the same penalty as someone looking for warez. Since FU has gone after IRC, I suppose that the next target will be ICQ, since both allow for file sharing; if you prefer using an IM service besides AIM, tough luck, kid. But we can't take the risk of you doing anything illegal.

    True, bandwidth is not free. Handing the worst offenders a bill for their usage would provide an immensely powerful real-world lesson. Big Brother tactics, however, are not the solution. And to see /. endorsing such things leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Believe it or not, this is not an attempt to flame or troll. I just find it incredibly baffling that this policy is drawing large numbers of cheers from the same crowd that roundly condemns other attempts to infringe upon personal privacy.

    • by Ionized (170001) on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:40PM (#7128186) Journal
      That's a whole lotta whining, but let's look at the facts.

      1) Uploading of copyrighted material is illegal
      2) The University, as an ISP, is legally responsible for what its users do, thanks to the DMCA
      3) ~90% of file transfers over P2P are copyrighted material and illegal
      4) There's no realistic way to tell if any given file being transferred over the network is legal or not

      Based on the above, why exactly do you feel that the University should expose itself to lawsuits from the RIAA just so a small percentage of the student body can use P2P for legitimate use?

      What use can you come up with that is not available elsewhere, such as using an FTP site or website?

      I dislike the RIAA as much as anybody, but there is not a lot of leeway without the potentialof being sued.
  • by sirmikester (634831) on Friday October 03, 2003 @05:37PM (#7128162) Homepage Journal
    It didn't mention it in the story, but I think that it would be logical to assume that linux clients would get cut off from the network because ICARUS probably doesn't come in a flavor that scans linux file systems. So besides robbing users of using p2p for legitmate purposes the system also prevents them from using a free operating system? Am I missing something here?
  • by SkewlD00d (314017) on Friday October 03, 2003 @06:04PM (#7128394)
    I worked at Stanford over the summer in an IS dept, where their centralized "ITSS" NOC dept. disconnected every machine via scans every two hours and switch rules that did not apply the MS03-039 patch before an arbitrary date, which created an unnecessary and artifical emergency in our dept. Stanford is definitely run like a non-profit, the people there dont really know what they're doing. There's no firewalls anywhere and everyone's machine is a public IP, so anyone can host an FTP warez site. Most every machine at Stanford is a Mac OS 9.x or Windows 2000 Pro, and a few OS X's and XP machines. Additionally, many other universities do not have firewalls, including UC Davis. I believe that MIT has most of their student's machines firewalled.

    But, in support of UF's position, schools have cover-their-asses when it comes to I.P. and P2P issues since their big corporate donors can threaten to withhold funding. Also, it is almost ethically justifiable to block P2P, since the only few legitimate uses are (but not limited to) finding patches and sharing public-domain works. But, if colleges start blocking certain sites, then the line between protectionism and censorship begins to blurr. If these schools would firewall
  • by rock_climbing_guy (630276) on Friday October 03, 2003 @06:20PM (#7128502) Journal
    If I understand this correctly, the concern is that network admins are running programs that poke at your machine over the network to see what ports are open, right? I guess they could go on to see what services might be on open ports. If, for example, a machine on the network has a virus that makes the computer send tons of spam, then for example, they could detect that there was an abnormal amount of traffic from that node; then poke at the computer from outside, and see that there is an SMTP server there. How does that invade your privacy?

    Technically, couldn't someone check what services are running on my PC right now without violating my rights legally.

    Can I not say that checking for P2P is just like entering my IP into a web browser to see if there is an HHTP daemon on my machine? Finally, couldn't you install a software firewall to make sure the machine can't be "scanned?"

    Someone, please fill me in here.

  • Perfect Example.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xchino (591175) on Friday October 03, 2003 @06:35PM (#7128612)
    ..of over engineering. This is seriously just a stupid idea from a network management point of view, all ethical questions aside.

    UofF IT: Let's build a killer VB app that automagically disconnects connections based on bandwidth usage and port scans! It will be new and exciting and make us look leet.

    Competent IT: We already have several options available to curb p2p abuse and prevent viral infection, used widely throughout the industry with great effectiveness while keeping end users happy.

    I realize I don't know the whole story, so I can't say this wasn't their only option with any certainty, EXCEPT for this..

    Disconnecting the user is ridiculous. The punishment doesn't come close to fitting the crime, actual copyright infringement not withstanding. In the real world, where companies don't have the luxury of giving a big "FUCK YOU BITCH!" to our customers, bandwidth abusers are capped, not severed from the network. Keep the policy but change the rules to

    1. The first time a notice will come up to cease
    and desist.

    2. Second time bandwidth is capped at 28800bps. Let them live with old modem speeds for a few days, and see what life will be like.

    3. Third and final infraction: Bandiwdth permanently capped at 28.8. If they want a greater level of service they can either pay for it, or find another service provider.

    This seriously smells like a case of too much self importance of the IT staff. This can (and quite possible should) be maintained and managed away from the application layer.

    Or maybe Icarus is just some super duper app that we'll all be switching over to windows to run on our corporate networks, because it is just that badass.
  • by Kjella (173770) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @01:10AM (#7130742) Homepage
    I'm sure the Icarus will be blocked as a potential hostile port scanner, I know my firewall does.

    I know that my Uni (ok I graduated last summer) is keeping a rather tight eye on external bandwidth, in order to keep it blazing fast, as it is. But as far as I know, they're looking at total and sustained bandwidth usage, nothing else. Mysteriously, the internal DC++ hubs (IP limited to internal only, difference is only GB limit) are doing great and contain so many terrabytes, there's little reason to go anywhere else. I'm sure it stands out as a red herring on the internal LAN stats, but the networks admin don't want to look. And word-of-mouth spreads pretty quickly to those who haven't caught on.

    Personally, I think that if the goal is to provide a network that is the most useful for all the students, that is the way to go. While I'm sure they "know" that illegal stuff is going on over their lines, they're acting as a good ISP and common carrier and don't nose around. I'm sure you wouldn't appriciate your cable company or telco to do so either, I'm sure they "know" too.

    Kjella

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