ITR plans to monitor all downloads

By Rosemarie Gonzalez
October 2, 2003

Downloading music has become an essential part of a student’s life on campus. Since one is mostly connected through a dial-up modem, at home, a 24/7 connection in a dorm room is like being in heaven.

“Being that I only have a dial-up here at home I would say that I’m at a disadvantage. Songs take me 10 to 20 minutes to download, depending on how long they are,” Annette Musloski, junior, graphic design major and commuter, said.

The information and technology resources department at Cabrini is currently running tests to implement packet shaping – technology used to monitor all applications running across the network.

The plan is to provide full protection from any outside sources, and even, from having any peer to peer programs run.

“ITR locks down campus owned computers,” John McIntyre, director of information technology and resources, said.

For faculty and staff, the rights to download any music has already been prohibited. They cannot install any programs onto their computers since space is very limited.

Packet shaping will probably be implemented into the system later on in the term for residents living in the dormitories. With this software, ITR will be able to determine exactly what programs are being used and who is using them.

“The technology was created to analyze each and every frame of data passing across the network,” McIntyre said. ITR wants to follow in the footsteps of other colleges and universities in the area so that they can improve Cabrini’s network performance. McIntyre said, “We will be able to identify and deal with traffic offenders individually,” in reference to anyone who is running P2P applications.

However, many students feel that it is unfair for ITR to monitor what programs they are running. “I don’t feel that ITR should check our computer use because it is an invasion of privacy,” Erin Nelson, senior, elementary education major, said.

RIAA Controls

1. What does Cabrini do to prevent downloads?
2. Is it still possible to download no matter what ITR does? How?
3. How has ITR dealt with this in the past?
4. Is there anything in the works to stop this from constantly happening or can students always find a way around it?
5. Are downloads common among faculty and staff as well?

ITR has performed many tests using a technology known as packet shaping for bandwidth management. We are preparing to implement this technology in full throughout campus later this term. Once implemented, the controls that the packet shaping device employs are absolute. Since the technology was created to analyze each and every frame of data passing across the network, we at ITR will be able to offer total protection. Along with packet shaping technology we are using network sniffing and intrusion detection systems. With these, we will be able to pinpoint exactly where (down to room number and computer address) and who (which users are causing traffic problems for everyone else on campus) and deal with each on a one by one basis. A more thorough description of what packet shaping is and how it works is provided below.

Faculty and staff are prohibited from downloading copyrighted music since access to install programs on the computers has been limited: ITR locks down campus owned computers so that users cannot install programs without a special request to the ITR department. This set-up also prevents anyone from installing common P2P, which stands for Peer to Peer, programs in the first place.

Packet shaping is a Layer 7 traffic classification which identifies applications, both business and non-business, running across a network such as the Cabrini network. Whether one has tunneled through HTTP tunnel gateways or not, the system will discover and track P2P applications like KaZaA, Morpheus, Gnutella, iMesh, and AudioGalaxy. Once P2P traffic is identified, packet shaping applies decisive policy controls that eliminate or minimize P2P’s presence on the campus network. Packet shaping can block P2P, contain it to a reasonable bits-per-second rate, and/or limit each user to a maximum. It can even discourage usage and avoid blocking by providing P2P with such a small trickle of bandwidth that users experience dismal performance and refrain from using the applications completely. While packet shaping controls P2P traffic, it allocates appropriate amounts of bandwidth to mission critical applications and services to ensure efficient and reliable performance, and this is really what we are after.

A number of colleges and universities including the major schools in our area have already implemented package shaping software and are very pleased with the resulting improvements to their overall network performance, not to mention keeping themselves within legal bounds.

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Rosemarie Gonzalez

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