How Does Peer-to-Peer Affect the CityU Community?

by Raymond Poon
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Over the past few years, a number of "peer-to-peer (P2P)" file-sharing applications have emerged to enable sharing or swapping of files among participants of a community (or members of a network). A computer can become a participant of a community by running any one of the applications specially written for that community. Once running, the application automatically shares the files of the participant's computer with the other participants' computers worldwide if the former does not take specific actions to block the access. As such, participants by default can search other fellow participants' computers for files that may interest them, and bring those files to their own computers.

In fact, a growing number of our users are already using these P2P file-sharing applications to download from or exchange through the Internet a large number of music collections (in MP3 format), video clips, multimedia files, etc. that are to be/being stored on University-owned computers. Some even host similar download services or actively engage in swapping of video or music files. To the University community, these non-academic activities pose serious threats, which include but not limited to the following:

  • Hog University's network bandwidth (both Internet and Intranet)
  • Consume unnecessarily a large volume of useful disk storage
  • Put both the University and the participant at risk if unlicensed copyrighted materials were found on University equipment.
  • If the participant's computer is not properly managed and protected, it can contract viruses or attract hackers' codes through file swapping, and then becomes a source to spread and even be used to launch attacks to other computers.
     

To protect the campus network, the Computing Services Centre (CSC) will adopt the following common practice that is widely accepted by other universities in order to curb and limit the impact brought about by these applications:

  • Users on campus network and on modem pool will be advised not to install or use any one of the P2P file-sharing applications as listed in the table below (the list will be updated when new ones or new versions are found). If they choose to install or not to remove the application, they must ensure that their systems are properly set to prevent them from acting as a provider of unlicensed materials to other users. Should they fail to do so, they shall be fully liable for any damage caused or legal action brought against them.
Name of Community (Name of Network) P2P Application Written for the Community
Aimster Aimster
Audiogalaxy Audiogalaxy Satellite
FastTrack KaZaA
Morpheus (Old)
Gnutella BearShare
Gnotella
Gnucleus
GTK-Gnutella
LimeWire
Mactella
Morpheus PE (Current)
Phex
Otella
SwapNut
XoLoX
iMesh iMesh
MFTP EDonkey2000
NeoModus Direct Connect
OpenNap WinMX
  • For those machines running any one of the above P2P file-sharing applications on the Internet, they will be set to have one of the lowest priorities among all types of data transfers, and their total combined bandwidth consumption will initially be limited to at most 500 Kilobits per second. It will be further adjusted accordingly or may remain unchanged depending on the bandwidth situation.