Controversy around campus
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Thread: Controversy around campus

  1. #1

    Controversy around campus

    Hey, question:

    Here on campus have a high-speed internet connection that we all work off. And, us being poor college kids, most all of us have installed KaZaA or some other peer to peer file sharing agent, in order to get some free entertainment between classes.

    Lately, however, the downloads from KaZaA as well as any other file sharing programs have slowed to an absolute crawl. We've gone from being able to download a song in 15 seconds to three days. The thing is, that it only affects peer to peer downloads. Downloading images or video from web pages remains as fast as ever. What makes it that much more puzzling is that uploads from our systems are still running at top speeds, upwards of 100 k/second. This happens regardless of what OS or file sharing agent you use. MSN instant messenger works just fine, except for the "send a file or photo" option, as the transfer never goes through.

    The popular theory floating about campus is that the admins have installed some sort of selective firewall that blocks incoming transfers from such file sharing agents. When asked about it they deny it to the bitter end. And since there are only three of them I assume they would be able to keep a secret to themselves if they wanted. And I personally have never heard of such a thing. Although I admittedly have zero experience with large networks and how they operate.

    My question is what is causing this lag in download times? If not a "selective firewall" then what?
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  2. #2
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    It could be the admins putting up the firewall but not wanting to let students know. Given the recent lawsuit of RIAA against students over things like Kazaa I can understand why they'd do it. Alternatively, perhaps -- if they have a caching firewall -- it's getting full so fast that it can't deal with the load. And that may be causing the download.

    It could also be the ISP they get their pipe from. Again, for the reason of not wanting to deal with RIAA or just to limit the use of downloads. Kazaa and such are big pipe fillers and lots of ISPs, if they detect that activity, are trying to find ways to reduce it as it affects their networks as a whole and not just one segment.

    The last possible thing could be that perhaps something in Kazaa has changed (I don't use it so I don't know if they have monitoring software that could be impeeding it).

    I'd be quite surprised if your Admins would knowing allow the use on campus of Kazaa and wonder if they have an AUP. If they do and it doesn't allow it, they have every right to stop the flow.

    Do you know what kind of firewall they are using? Checkpoint, ISA, Pix?
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  3. #3
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    Bandwidth Throttling....... It can be set to limit the upload or download speed of a given machine to whatever the admin thinks is fitting. He may also be able to be more selective and throttle the bandwidth for certain type of transfer so that you would get win2k SP3 at a normal speed but if the d/l was occurring from another location such as a p2p then it would throttle it.
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  4. #4
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    Hey RunningDuck-- I have the same situation at my university. When I realized that the firewall was blocking kazaa I changed the port for kazaa to port 80, thinking that it would look the same as web traffic. But still my downloads were extremely slow. Can anyone explain how a fire wall can distinguish between regular web traffic on pt 80 and kazaa traffic on pt 80
    kNoWLeDgE

  5. #5
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    emPtYKnOw wrote:
    I changed the port for kazaa to port 80, thinking that it would look the same as web traffic. But still my downloads were extremely slow.
    To understand application detection for appli that used dynamic port assignment have a look into the www.ietf.org site for NBAR .
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  6. #6
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    You might also want to take a look at QoS (Quality of Service). This is how I generally see NBAR (Network Based Application Recognition) information being used to control bandwidth.

    There is quite literally a TON of information on these technologies as well as how they are configured and implemented on Cisco's website. (Too lazy to go look for links right now).

    I would need to check on Kaazaa, but I'm wondering if when you changed the port to TCP 80, if you are only changing the port on your machine and your destination is still a standard port number? Just pondering out loud. It probably depends on what type of probe device they are using to monitor the traffic as to how it's identifying and classifying the Kaazaa traffic.

    By the way, you're relatively fortunate that they are still permitting this traffic at all. I know of a couple universities around here that simply ban all *****peer traffic for bandwidth reasons.

    Can you get a cable or dsl modem in the dorms? If so you might look into getting a bunch of people on your floor together and chipping in on the monthly fee. You could either set up a shared file-swapping server on the cable modem or share the connection off with a WLAN. Figure an average cost of $40.00 per month, split it up between 4 people and it should be manageable for even really broke student types.

  7. #7
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    Tiger Shark is exactly right, it's all in the news where university IT departments are using bandwidth throttling for the same reason you're describing.

  8. #8
    I am constantly amazed at the quality and quantity of advice recieved on these boards. I love it here and thank you all immensely.

    Okay, starting at the top, I don't think there are any OFFICIAL policies about file sharing and p2p agents, and I'd think that the admins would have brought that up when I talked to them about it. And I know next to nothing about how they run their network or their firewalls, maybe I'll ask them about it this afternoon.

    The bandwidth throttle seems to me to be the most plausable explanation, given what I do know for sure. Maybe I'll run that by the admins and see if they flinch while I'm asking about the firewall specs.

    And I really doubt that we'd be able to hook up our own DSL lines here. Although it would be very sweet (these servers get bogged down during heavy traffic times of day, like just after dinner and around 9:00 when all the gamers (including me) go to play). But, even if it were possible, with only six weeks of school left it hardly seems worthwile to go through all the effort.
    Do not meddle in the affairs of hackers, for they are subtle and quick to anger.
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  9. #9
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    Most admins are throttling the p2p programs because of the ammount of bandwidth being constantly used by students. Most university CS students and many others need to be able to operate over the network to complete work on servers throughout the school. That is why they started throttling connections at my school.
    Ben Franklin said it best. \"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.\"

  10. #10
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    The campus I am associated with has installed a packet shaper which does exactly as RunningDuck described.

    My question for the University admins is why knowingly even tolerate this kind of stuff? I mean, I use WinMX, and used Napster when it was around, but the legality for a university would be stifling I would think.

    Oh, and most universities have it in the EULA (end user license agreement) or ECP (electronics communications policy) that you can only use the internet service provided for educational or research purposes.

    Anyway, my two cents (surprising I have even that much sense)

    D'elTarra

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