t byfield on Tue, 29 Feb 2000 18:58:23 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> NYU restricts Napster

----- Forwarded 

From: Marilyn McMillan <marilyn.mcmillan@nyu.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, February 29, 2000 8:51 AM
Subject: Restricting the use of Napster

TO:  The NYU Community

In order to ensure NYU-NET availability is sufficient for NYU work,
Information Technology Services (ITS) has been forced to take steps to
restrict traffic related to an outside service called "Napster," which
enables distribution of MP3 music files over the Internet.

In addition, in order to protect the security of NYU systems, we require that
Napster software be removed from any NYU-owned machine on which it is
installed.  And we strongly recommend that it be removed from personally
owned computers that are connected to NYU-NET.

The surging increase in Napster traffic on NYU-NET and with the Internet
during recent weeks indicates that this service has become quite well known
and popular at the University.   However, it seems much less well understood
that, because of the way the Napster service works, using it conflicts
directly with the agreement an individual makes when:

(a) You register for an ITS account or any school or department account
    permitting network access (see "Responsibilities of All NYU Computer 
    and Network Users," at http://www.nyu.edu/its.standards/respon.nyu);

(b) You connect your personal computer to NYU ResNet in the student
    residences (see "ResNet Accounts - Specific Policies and Information,"
    at http://www.nyu.edu/its/standards/resnet-policy.nyu).

NYU's "World Wide Web Policies and Procedures" also applies (see

Two main issues force ITS to highlight these policies and take steps to
restrict use of Napster:  network availability and computer security.  In
addition, individuals who have been using Napster need to be aware of some
further considerations.

 1) Network Availability

 Traffic on NYU-NET increased dramatically in the past few weeks.  Our
 analyses show that this increase is due largely to surging use of
 Napster, particularly on and from the ResNet leg of NYU-NET.  Last
 Thursday night, for instance, before we put emergency restrictions into
 place, NYU's Internet connection was operating at a dangerously high 98%
 of capacity.  After the restrictions, traffic on the link dropped back
 to the more typical 60% of capacity.
 It's not necessarily apparent when you're using Napster that you're
 generating much network traffic.  Once you've downloaded your MP3 files,
 you might think you're done.  But Napster in its default mode makes it
 possible for everyone else on the Internet to download files from your
 computer without your awareness or approval.  Depending on the
 popularity of your collection, this feature can multiply many times the
 network traffic generated by your machine.
 This Napster traffic surge has already interfered with the availability
 of the network for normal NYU work-related connections, which include
 University projects that require consistent network availability.
 NYU-NET resources exist to further the academic mission of the
 University.  Though these resources are substantial, they are not
 infinite.  Given the Napster surge, ITS has no choice but to restrict
 the Napster load on NYU-NET, so that the network remains available for
 NYU-related purposes.   ITS had been planning to upgrade our link to the
 Internet as soon as the next generation of capacity comes online, later
 this year.  That planning continues.  In the meantime at least, these
 restrictions are essential.

2) Computer Security

 It's not readily apparent that, by running Napster, you can introduce
 serious security risks to your machine and the other files on it, as
 well as to other computers on the network.  Napster disregards the
 security of individual computers in misleading ways that are
 In the default configuration, when you download your first music file
 from Napster, you automatically also download Napster software that
 turns your computer into a file server.  This software allows any other
 machine on the Internet to connect to your computer and download copies
 of your files without your knowledge or approval.  Triggered by a
 request from the other machine, the Napster software on your computer
 then searches your hard drive and any mounted network drives for "music
 files to share."
 Unprotected file sharing and file scanning create significant risks of
 compromise to your computer and your privacy, as well as to other
 computers on NYU-NET.  There is no way to tell what malicious functions
 may be performed by the software you automatically download with the
 music or what modifications may have been made to the music files
 themselves.  This security issue is further complicated by Napster's
 decision to release the source code for the software it downloads onto
 your machine.  The resulting proliferation of authors and versions makes
 your machine even more vulnerable to unexpected intrusions.

Further considerations for those using Napster

Because Napster can automatically turn your computer into a server, it
increases the possibility of automatically turning you into a distributor of
music files without the creator's permission.  Distribution is a step more
serious than simply copying these files and can be a violation of U.S.
copyright laws.  In this regard, it's worth noting that Napster keeps a
database of the IP addresses of all the individual computers that use Napster
software to distribute MP3 files.

Thanks for your cooperation in addressing what so quickly became a serious
threat to both network availability and computer security at NYU.  We will,
of course, continue to monitor the situation and may take further steps as
they become necessary.

Marilyn McMillan
Chief Information Technology Officer
New York University

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