The University of Arizona


Appropriate Use of Computing Facilities

May 7 , 2010

The key word to remember when using the CS facilities, computer systems, and communications networks maintained and operated by the Department of Computer Science is courtesy. Courtesy is defined as consideration, cooperation, and generosity in following written policies and common sense behavior.

Appropriate use is always ethical, reflects academic integrity, and shows restraint in the consumption of shared resources. All users of Department facilities are expected to show respect for intellectual property, ownership of data, system security mechanisms, and individuals' right to privacy.

In making appropriate use of Computer Science facilities, you should:

Use resources only for authorized purposes

Computer accounts are issued for use in assigned course work or supervised research projects within the Department of Computer Science. Exploration and experimentation is permitted provided that the rest of these guidelines are followed and that the work of others is not adversely impacted.

You may not use workstations for non-Computer Science work unless there is a free, unused, workstation in the lab that you are using. For example, if you are not working on a Computer Science assignment and someone comes into the lab and takes the last workstation available, you must give up your workstation.  Note that workstation means any work area, whether it has a computer in it or not. That means that open workstations, monitor-only workstations, and laptop areas (tables) are all included when the term workstation is used.

Use of consumable resources, such as printer paper, is strictly limited to assigned Computer Science work. This policy specifically prohibits the printing of assignments from other departments on Computer Science printers.

Playing computer-based games, watching non-course related videos, and use of peer-to-peer applications are prohibited.

Clarification of what constitutes acceptable account use may be obtained from your course instructor, account sponsor, or by e-mail to the lab mail alias.

Protect your account from unauthorized use

You are responsible for all activities on your account.

Your account is for your personal use only. You may not extend this permission to anyone else. Do not reveal your password to anyone else (even to someone claiming to be a system administrator) and do not use anyone else's account.

When logged onto a computer in a public, communal, or private area, you should not leave that computer without logging off or locking it. Locking a computer prevents unauthorized access to that computer while allowing your computing session to remain active. Public access computers may be locked only for brief periods of time—typically less than 10 minutes. Users found to have left unattended logons may have their accounts suspended.

If you have been assigned a computer in CS office space, you should log off when you go home for the day.

You should protect your computer system and accounts by using strong passwords. Passwords should be chosen with care. A mixture of upper and lower case letters, digits, and special characters produces a more secure password.

From time to time, system administrators may do security checks of all systems, including password checks. Any user found with a weak password or other security failure may be notified via electronic mail. If you do not remedy the situation, the account will be locked or the problem remedied by systems staff and you will be notified by e-mail.

Critical and security updates are released periodically that need to be installed on all workstations in the department. Usually this is done automatically. When manual updates are required, lab will send an email to users explaining the impending installation. If workstations are logged off, lab staff can install updates while the user is gone, with minimal disturbance. Workstations that are left locked may be rebooted to allow the installation of the updates.

Any user who finds a possible security hole on a Department or University system should report it immediately. This can be done by e-mailing security reports to the lab mail alias. When in doubt, report it, don't use it!

Regularly read electronic mail and posted system bulletins

Users are expected to be aware of the information that is published e-mail and notices posted in access labs.

Your CS e-mail account is the preferred (and most frequently used) channel of communication between you and the Department. Your professors, TA's and Lab staff will use it preferentially when attempting to contact you. As such, you should make sure to read it often or arrange to forward it to your preferred e-mail address. Most account suspensions stem from not reading or responding to e-mail! See University and Computer Science E-mail Accounts—Requirements and Use.

Access only files and data that are your own

User files are private and should not be copied or accessed without permission of the owner. Snooping through a fellow user's files is not permitted. Lack of appropriate file protection does not constitute permission to read, write, or execute another user's files. When in doubt, ask permission of the file's owner.

However, the Department recognizes the need for students to share their files within groups for assignments which explicitly allow collaboration. Have your instructor contact lab to obtain a new Unix group for the exclusive use of your project. Unauthorized access to group shares is a violation of this policy.

Care should be taken when executing non-Department supplied programs as they may cause unexpected damage to your files and to the system in general. See Avoiding Viruses while Using CS Facilities.

Almost all system software is covered by licensing restrictions limiting its use to the particular machine upon which it resides. Do not copy system software for use elsewhere. When in doubt, contact lab.

Use only legally licensed versions of software

Use only software that you know is legally licensed for your system. Both shareware and freeware software may have licensing as well as cost considerations. Because the University is ultimately responsible for the use of its computing equipment, both on campus and remote, care must be taken to comply with all software licensing conditions and fees.

For example, freeware may be licensed cost free for individual, private, or home use only, while your assigned department workstation is considered a corporate use which must be paid for. Shareware often allows an evaluation period for free use, after which the software must be removed or paid for.

Additionally, software in the shareware and freeware domains may be incompatible with software normally installed on CS workstations. Requests for additional software installs should be made to lab (even if your user account has permission which allows you to install software on your assigned workstation) and will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Respect copyright and intellectual-property rights especially with regard to music and video

Users must adhere to the U.S. Copyright Act, the University of Arizona Intellectual Property Policy, and the terms and conditions of any and all software and database licensing agreements.

Any form of original expression fixed in a tangible medium is subject to copyright, even if there is no copyright notice. Examples include music, movies, graphics, text, photographs, artwork and software, distributed in any media—including online.

The use of a copyrighted work (such as copying, downloading, file sharing, distribution, public performance, etc.) requires either the copyright owner's permission, or an exemption under the Copyright Act.

The Copyright Act also makes it unlawful to circumvent technological measures used by copyright owners to protect their works. Copyright infringement exposes the user, and the University, to heavy fines and potential criminal liability.

The Department considers violations of the Copyright Act to be a serious breach of our Appropriate Use Guidelines.

Be considerate of your use of shared resources

Users are expected to stay within their assigned disk space allocations. Be aware of the space you are using. Use the Unix compress or zip utilities to reduce the size of files. Be especially aware of core, a.out, and Internet browser cache files. Use the commands dalloc and du to check your current resource use. Those needing more space should see their instructors or account sponsor. Users exceeding their assigned disk quotas are notified via e-mail. Continued failure to stay within allocation will result in the account being locked.

Use consumable resources such as paper prudently; use two-up or duplex printing, check print queues before resubmitting print jobs, and recycle output when possible. Remember that consumable resources may only be used in the completion of assigned Computer Science work.

Even non-consumable resources such as CPU cycles are limited. Users should consider running large CPU intensive processes at lower priority via the nice command and at off hours via at. Other resource use limits may also be set; see man limit for details. Novice programmers should check to make sure that no runaway processes have been started before logging off the system. Users with long running processes should notify lab to prevent them from being mistaken for runaways and killed.

The running of programs designed to impair, crash, or deny other users legitimate access to the system is prohibited. Users who suspect such occurrences should notify the Department immediately.

Unix system maintenance utilities such as wall, halt, reboot, fsck, etc., should never be executed by users on general timesharing systems without the expressed permission of the Department. Individual workstations in the labs may be rebooted by users who experience problems. When in doubt, mark the machine broken (down), e-mail lab with the name of the machine, location, and a description of the problem, and move to another workstation.

Users of shared work spaces (including labs) are expected to help maintain an environment that is comfortable for others.  Care should be taken to work quietly.  If listening to music or audio, use earbuds or headphones.  Do not use speakers.  Screen displays, verbal comments, and publicly accessible messages that are offensive or hostile to others are not acceptable. Users encountering problems with these and other inappropriate behaviors are requested to send e-mail to lab describing the particular situation.

Screenlocking programs which prevent others from using workstations should be used only for short periods of time, generally not exceeding 10 minutes. Terminals that are locked for extended periods may be forcibly unlocked and any processes on them killed.

Help to maintain CS facilities

CS access sites should be treated like a library; noise should be kept to a minimum, food and drink are to remain outside, and smoking is not permitted.

Clean up after yourself. Do not leave unwanted output laying about. Remember to arrange books and chairs so that others can move freely about the room.

Do not turn off the workstations in the labs; leave them turned on unless otherwise posted.

Treat equipment with care. Report malfunctioning equipment promptly to lab.

Connect to the network in a safe and secure manner

If you have been given permission to access the Department network with a computer which is not under control of the Lab Staff, whether University property or not, it is your responsibility to ensure that you do so in a safe and secure manner and do not impose a security hazard to the Department or University.

It is your duty to apply all available security patches that are applicable to that computer's operating system(s). It is your duty to use a current virus checker where applicable (i.e., some operating systems such as Linux may not have such software available). You are responsible for the use of your computer. Do not leave it unattended and take steps to prevent unauthorized use. Your computer must be used in a manner that abides by all applicable University and Department guidelines.

The Department approves all mainstream virus checkers as long as they are maintained to current revision levels. If you are unsure whether your virus checker would be approved, contact lab.

Users in violation of access facility rules may have their access to CS facilities removed. See Penalties for Abuse below.

Inappropriate use of Computer Science facilities includes:

Using another person's userid or password

It is prohibited to attempt to break into another user's account or to disguise your own identity on e-mail or news postings. Sharing your account with anyone else is prohibited. Multiple, simultaneous logins to the same account may be monitored. Simultaneous logins must never be used to give a second party (i.e., unauthorized by CS) access to an account.

Attempts to decrypt or obtain another user's password are not considered an academic exercise and are strictly prohibited. Unauthorized attempts to gain root or administrator access to Department systems are monitored and will be dealt with severely.

Attempting to circumvent or subvert system security measures

Use of any Department resource in an attempt to compromise the security or integrity of any computer system, whether on or off campus, will be considered a violation of these Guidelines. Activities that compromise computer system security will not be tolerated!

Engaging in any activity that might be harmful to the systems or to any information stored thereon

For example, creating or propagating viruses.

Wasting computing resources

For example, by intentionally placing a program in an endless loop or printing excessive amounts of paper.

Using the Department's systems for personal gain

For example, by performing work for profit in a manner not authorized by the Department.

Unlawful use of computer and network resources

Unlawful use of University and Department computer and network resources can expose the individual user and the University to damage claims or potential criminal liability. Unlawful uses may include, but are not limited to: harassment and intimidation of individuals on the basis of race, sex, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability; obscenity; child pornography; threats; theft; attempting unauthorized access to data; attempting to breach security measures on any electronic communications software or system; attempting to intercept electronic communication transmissions without proper authority; and violation of intellectual property or defamation laws. Do not use computer systems to send, post, or display slanderous, defamatory, or obscene messages, text, graphics, or images.

Allowing entry to CS facilities by unauthorized persons

Computer Science facilities are not public areas. Access is limited to those with Department system accounts and magnetic keycards or doorlock combinations. Do not prop open doors, disable locking mechanisms, admit people you don't know, or in any other way permit unauthorized persons to enter CS facilities. Suspicious activities should be reported immediately to the campus police at 911 or 621-8273 (621-UAPD).

Guideline Enforcement

When you requested an account from the Department, you agreed to follow the Guidelines listed and referenced in this document. Make sure you re-read them at the beginning of every semester and familiarize yourself with their content—as they may change. When you are using CS facilities, practice these Guidelines and be alert for any violations. If you believe another student is in violation of the Guidelines, alert a Department representative (your TA, Section Leader, Lab Staff, course Instructor or Faculty member) if possible.

If you are unsure whether an action is in violation of the Guidelines, ask a departmental representative or e-mail lab. If a representative of the department asks you to stop an activity which is in violation of these guidelines, please do so in a prompt and courteous manner. Repeated or excessive violations will result in your facilities access and/or account being suspended.

Other Computer Use Policies

The Department's guidelines are tailored specifically for Computer Science facilities. This Appropriate Use policy is one of several computer use policies you may encounter while using University-provided computing. For example, the University Information and Technology Services (UITS), has its own Computer and Network Access Agreement. Other departments have their own policies. Do not assume that what is permissible in one department is acceptable in another.

The Department's Appropriate Use policy is written to fit within the general University umbrella policy: Acceptable Use of Computers and Networks at the University of Arizona. Any contradiction between University Acceptable Use policy and the Department's Appropriate Use policy will be resolved in favor of the University policy.

Penalties For Abuse

Use of CS facilities, computer systems, and communications networks maintained and operated by the Department imposes certain responsibilities and obligations and is granted subject to University and Department policies, and local, state, and federal laws.

Users who misuse Department computing and network resources or who fail to comply with University or Department written usage policies, regulations and guidelines are subject to one or more of the following consequences:

Most commonly, students found in violation of the Department's Appropriate Use Guidelines are temporarily deprived of computer account use, or lab use, or both. Some of these suspensions are automatic—such as losing printing privileges when the lab print spooler records printing over the monthly allocation. Some penalties are invoked by support personnel, such as the removing a CatCard's access to the labs or the suspension of a user's computer account.

Suspensions are usually linked to the problem at hand: e.g., print too much and your printing stops for the rest of the month; food or drink in a lab and you lose access privileges to the lab; use too much file space and your account is suspended. These actions are almost always (but not necessarily) taken after verbal and/or e-mail warnings have been issued to the offending student.

Students who have had their privileges suspended should contact lab or their course instructor if there are questions regarding the reason, extent and duration of their suspension (usually only for as long as it takes for us to come to an understanding of the offending behavior with the student). First time, minor offenders may be required to speak with their course instructor or a Lab staff member concerning reinstatement of privileges. Repeat offenders may be required to see the Department Head for reinstatement.

The Department has little interest in penalizing students. Our concern is primarily to reach an understanding with the student regarding the use of CS facilities and to assure ourselves that the student's behavior is consistent with our Appropriate Use Guidelines. However, since many of the penalty situations described above occur in an automatic fashion or in response to emergencies affecting the use of computing resources for others, students should be advised that failure to abide by these Guidelines may impact assignment due dates or other coursework requirements. Course instructors are under no obligation to make allowances for students who lose computing privileges within the Department.