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Appropriate Use of Department of Computer Science and Engineering Computing Resources

Upon receiving permission to access CSE resources, you acknowledge your responsibility for strictly adhering to the Texas A&M University System Rules and Regulations, as well as State and Federal Regulations. You will be subject to disciplinary action and criminal prosecution to the full extent of the law (Chapter 33, Title 7 of the Texas Penal Code), if you gain or help others gain unauthorized access to Computer Science resources.

  • 1.0 Background 
    CSE computing resources are provided to support the teaching, research and administrative needs of CSE students, faculty and staff. System controls on user activities are less tight in this academic environment than in many others to allow a wider range of activities. This also means some activities are possible that are detrimental to individuals and departmental missions.
  • 2.0 Statement of Policy 
    Users are responsible at all times for using CSE facilities in a manner that is ethical, legal, and not to the detriment of others, and only in furtherance of the teaching, research and administrative missions.
    • 2.1 Users on shared servers should follow guidelines for system use and may not monopolize system resources.
    • 2.2 Users needing additional resources must request authorization from the Computing Services Group (CSG) System Manager.
    • 2.3 Departmental shared-access servers are funded by student fees and may NOT be used for research. Servers reserved for teaching/class use (research use is strictly forbidden) include, but are not limited to: sun, database, database2, compute, and linux.
    • 2.4 Storage of personal email messages, files and documents within information resources shall be nominal.
  • 3.0 Specific Interpretations 
    Statements and guidelines herein are meant to clarify potential interpretations of the Statement of Policy and are not exhaustive.
    • 3.1 Most facilities are made available on an unmonitored basis. 
      It is the responsibility of every user to act in such a manner as to not cause damage to the physical equipment. Accidental damage, or damage caused by other parties, should be reported to the CSG as soon as possible so that corrective action can be taken. Users are responsible for obeying all posted signs and placards in labs, attached to CSG equipment and displayed in the log-on message of the day.
      • 3.1.1 Users may not turn on or off any CSE equipment, or reboot Unix workstations.
      • 3.1.2 Users may not alter the cable connections (power, data or other) for CSE systems.
    • 3.2 Users who borrow hardware, software, or documentation from CSG lending collections are responsible for the proper care of that equipment, and for returning it in a timely fashion or upon request.
    • 3.3 Many resources, such as disk space, CPU cycles, printer queues, batch queues, dial-in lines, login sessions, and software licenses, are shared by all users. No user may monopolize or take an excessive share of these resources.
      • 3.3.1 CSG personnel may alter the priority or terminate the execution of any process that is consuming excessive system resources or objectionably degrading system response, with or without prior notification.
      • 3.3.2 Scratch disk space for Unix systems is provided for short-term use when users' needs exceed their quota. Files are routinely deleted after three days but may be deleted earlier depending on system requirements. The /tmp directory is needed as working storage for many programs and is not scratch space. Users may not fill this partition, should keep file lifetimes under an hour and are responsible for deleting files and directories after use.
      • 3.3.3 The CSG has the right to terminate login sessions that have been idle (unused) for long periods of time in order to free resources. This applies particularly to limited resources such as VPN connections. Logins idle over 8 hours on lab systems and servers are both an abuse of system resources and a potential security problem.
      • 3.3.4 Users should not run jobs on workstations where they are not logged onto the console ["background" jobs] without prior authorization.
      • 3.3.5 Users may not run "servers" on CSE systems without prior approval. This particularly applies to processes designed to give access to CSE systems without validation by the authentication system. In general, class projects, approved by the instructor and targeted only at class members, do not need explicit CSG approval. FSP and IRC are specifically prohibited and will not be approved. Users wishing to run 'term' or equivalent must request prior authorization.
      • 3.3.6 CSE web servers do not allow auto indexing (folder and file enumeration). Circumventing this security measure is a violation of the computer use policy.
    • 3.4 Certain activities cause problems for system usage and administration, even if resource usage is light, and are therefore prohibited.
      • 3.4.1 Game playing is not allowed on CSE servers and lab systems. This includes establishing a remote connection to another machine where the game code is actually executing.
      • 3.4.2 Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is not allowed on any CSE system.
      • 3.4.3 "Chained" sessions, where one connects to one system and then connects to another are not allowed. [Connection might be by telnet, rlogin, etc.] It is recognized that there will be times when brief connections like this are helpful, but users should minimize the time. Connect directly from your originating device whenever practical.
      • 3.4.4 "Chain mail" or advertisements for ponzi-like schemes are prohibited. If you receive a request to forward mail to some number of "random" people, don't do it, whether or not exchange of money or luck or something else is involved.
      • 3.4.5 The Department maintains several mail aliases, such as csgrads (referring to all CSE graduate students), csunder (referring to all majors) and others. These aliases are for use in the timely distribution of Departmental notices and NOT for personal use, discussion groups, books for sale or similar activity. The newsgroup tamu.cs.general is the appropriate venue.
      • 3.4.6 Unsolicited email is email sent without the recipient's request. Bulk unsolicited email is sending essentially the same message to multiple people without their request. The subject matter is irrelevant.
        • Sending individual unsolicited email should be done with consideration for the other person's time. While the Internet allows us to contact people all over the world, not everyone is interested in your problems.
        • Sending bulk unsolicited email is prohibited. No matter the rationale, you are imposing on other people for your purposes. There are costs involved; while one person might argue that it is little effort to delete one email, when many people send unsolicited email, the costs are noticeable.
    • 3.5 CSE facilities may not be used for personal gain or any activity that is commercial in nature. In general, this forbids any activity where payment is received from non-University funds. Posting to Usenet for sale groups and replying to offers on the Internet is allowed providing your activity is non-commercial. Faculty consulting, as approved by University policies, is allowed. Contact to gain employment (e.g., sending resumes by email) is allowed.
    • 3.6 The CSG recognizes the academic value of research on computer security, and the investigation of self-replicating code. However, the use and development of this type of software, if not properly supervised, can adversely affect the operation and integrity of CSG systems. Users who believe that they have a legitimate reason to use or develop programs in the above categories must request and receive approval from the CSG before developing or using these programs. Special arrangements can be made to provide an adequate environment for conducting an investigation without risking damage to, or impairment of, other systems. Approval will normally not be given outside of a specific instructional or sponsored research requirement.
      • 3.6.1 Users may not intentionally develop or use programs which attempt to bypass or test system security features, steal passwords or data, or "crack" passwords.
      • 3.6.2 Users may not intentionally develop or use programs that attempt to consume all of an available system resource (e.g., memory, swap space, disk space, network bandwidth).
      • 3.6.3 Users may not intentionally develop or use programs designed to replicate themselves or attach themselves to other programs, commonly called worms or viruses.
      • 3.6.4 CSE facilities and network connections may not be used for the purposes of making unauthorized connections to, breaking into, or adversely affecting the performance of other systems on the network, whether these systems are University-owned or not. The ability to connect to other systems via the network does not imply the right to make use of or even connect to these systems unless properly authorized by the owners of those systems.
      • 3.6.5 Users may not intentionally develop or use programs designed to evade software licensing or copying restrictions.
      • 3.6.6 Users may not intentionally develop or use programs which harass other users.
    • 3.7 Locking Workstations -- No one should leave a lab workstation unattended for more than 20 minutes. If you must leave a workstation unattended for a short time, use the "xlock" program to prevent unauthorized access to your account. Because screen lock programs may contain bugs that are security holes, you may not use a screen lock program that is not approved (and installed) by the Computing Services Group.