UF Takes The Bite Out Of Student P2P

From Network Computing:

Today’s college students live well. […] But one modern convenience has been removed from the dorm rooms at the University of Florida. Campus residents can no longer use Kazaa, Morpheus or any other P2P (peer-to-peer) file-sharing software to download music, movies or software applications. The free lunch ended abruptly at the beginning of the 2003-04 school year, when network administrators working in the campus housing unit turned on software they developed that not only detects illicit network activity but also dynamically enforces acceptable-use policies without IT intervention.

The software–called Icarus, for Integrated Computer Application for Recognizing User Services–is mostly a collection of PERL scripts. It pulls information from commercial and open-source tools used to monitor the network and spots traffic patterns that look like P2P transfers. Icarus then tracks down the user’s IP address, flashes a pop-up warning and limits access to the internal campus network. An e-mail alert is sent to the student, who must agree to suspend use of the offending P2P desktop software to regain full Internet access.

There’s no debate about Icarus’ effectiveness. Before it was turned on, there were as many as 3,500 simultaneous violators at any given time on the Gainesville campus, school officials say. On the day the switch was flipped, 1,500 violators were caught. There were only 19 second-time violators and no third-time violators. Purged of the digital cholesterol of media files, the network saw an 85 percent drop in uplink data volume. […]

The inventors of the software say it can be applied to any number of network threats and annoyances, including spam, worms, viruses, Trojan horses and denial-of-service attacks. In fact, even before it was applied to P2P traffic, Icarus controlled the Welchia worm by automatically quarantining infected computers, university IT officials say. The software is so good that a campus committee on licensing decided last month to apply for a patent and explore ways to commercialize Icarus (see “Is Icarus the Next Gatorade?“).Don’t be surprised if some spooked ISP hooks up a commercial version of the program in the not so distant future to keep customers from violating their Terms Of Service.

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  1. Michael Demmons March 25, 2004
  2. Jeff March 25, 2004
  3. slashdot March 26, 2004