OIT system gives security a new name — with efficiency

By Scott Lange
Assistant News Editor

Carrie Chin
Production precursor enjoys the results of the DHCP conversion, which took place during Fall Quarter.

Nearly half of the more than five thousand ResNet users have signed up with Dynamic Host Configurations Protocol (DHCP), the new system OIT has instituted to increase the efficiency and security of Georgia Tech's residence hall Ethernet TCP/IP network.
Officials expect the switch to DHCP to reduce the labor required to process IP address requests, and also help OIT track network abuse. Security is a growing concern to ResNet administrators.
"We can easily verify security information with DHCP," explained Herbert Baines, Manager of the Advanced Development Group. "We can now identify the Media Access Control (MAC) address before issuing an IP address. That prevents someone from stealing your IP address.
"The rate of security incidents on campus where a ResNet individual either spams or attacks ISPs or other individuals outside of Tech has really escalated," Baines continued.
"A year ago we were getting five to six incidents a month. It has climbed to five to six a week now," said Baines
Baines hopes that the greater accountability that comes with DHCP will discourage students from engaging in the sort of illegal activity that has been growing more common.
"We had one particular incident where an individual was upset with an ISP," said Baines. "[The individual] set up a program and filled up the ISP's mail spool and the ISP was out of business for ten hours."
DHCP automates the process of assigning IP addresses. When a student requests an IP address, DHCP checks several databases to confirm that the student is eligible for an IP address.
Under the previous system, most students' eligibility had to be confirmed by hand.
"There was a very costly maintenance toll [incurred when using the old process] in issuing IP addresses, even though it was through the web, it was really a manual process," explained OIT Department Manager Herbert Baines.
Baines asks students who have not signed up with DHCP to do so at

Officials say that signing up with DHCP will become mandatory by the end of the calendar year.
"We expected that everyone would see the benefits of having a reliable IP service and not having to configure their machines, and that they would sign up," said Baines. "[Unfortunately], only about half the students have voluntarily done this."
With one exception, the DHCP changeover has gone smoothly.
"A student registered seventy-nine consecutive times over a period of two minutes," explained Baines.
"We recognized what was happening and shut down the registration to figure out [what we could do to fix it]," continued Baines.
"We are taking measures now to issue cookies or other methods to make sure that if you register a certain number of times it will stop and tell you that you have too many processes running."
"I think the services that OIT is providing to ResNet are nothing short of monumental," said Baines.
"Over half the bandwidth that is going out of Georgia Tech across our BBN connection to the outside world is from ResNet."
"A lot of students are offering their own FTP servers, their own mail lists, their ownWeb sites, and more. Students are definitely getting their money's worth."

Copyright © 1998 by Gregory S. Scherrer, Editor and by the Student Publications Board

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