Use of Computing Resources at USC

Implementation Policies Governing Use of Computing Resources at USC

Section 1. General Understandings

1.1 University computing systems are shared resources. Therefore, any action that inhibits or has the potential to inhibit the ability of others to utilize these resources must be considered a policy violation. Because the Information Technology Services (ITS) cannot enumerate all possible violations that might arise, ITS will evaluate situations not explicitly addressed in written policy on a case-by-case basis. Members of the university community are expected to exercise good judgment in their use of university systems and are encouraged to consult ITS officials when questions arise regarding potentially inappropriate computer usage.

1.2 Many violations of computing policies are not intentional or malicious. ITS sees its role as one of educating users about computing policy and about the appropriate use of computing resources at USC. However, when circumstances demand – such as when violations are repeated after initial warnings or when improper computing conduct violates other university polices or applicable laws – then ITS will seek sanctions against users from the appropriate disciplinary body. ITS will cooperate with investigative authorities as required by court order, warrant, subpoena, or other legal discovery in the collection of evidence of possible violations of law through the misuse of computing resources.

Section 2. Electronic Communication

2.1 Electronic communication, which includes but is not limited to email, network news, and chat sessions – can result in problems when used carelessly. Electronic communication, like other forms of communication, must conform to all university policies and applicable laws.

2.2 Unlike face-to-face or telephone conversations, electronic communication lacks non-verbal cues, such as facial expression or tone of voice, to clarify the speaker’s intended meaning. Consequently, careless wording can lead to misunderstandings. In addition, electronic messages can leave a permanent record and, in a network environment, absolute privacy cannot be guaranteed. For these reasons, users should exercise good judgment when composing electronic messages.

2.3 The following list provides examples of inappropriate use of electronic communication:

2.3.1 Transmitting intimidating, harassing, or threatening electronic communication and/or forging electronic communication. Such behavior is not only a violation of university computing policies but may also constitute a violation of federal, state or local law.

2.3.2 All types of unauthorized bulk or junk email are prohibited. Unauthorized email includes, but is not limited to, mass emailings inconsistent with the goals of the institution, unsolicited junk email, and the propagation of chain email. For policy information regarding authorized bulk mailing, please view section 2.4. As an alternative to sending bulk electronic communication, individuals may post messages to an appropriate location on the World Wide Web or an appropriate USENET newsgroup. Those who regularly need to send email to a large number of people are encouraged to investigate list servers or system-wide mail lists.

2.3.3 Before posting to USENET newsgroups, users are encouraged to read the various help files and policies found in the newsgroup news.announce.newusers. Because articles posted to USENET newsgroups are seen by many people, users should exercise good judgment in composing their communications. Postings should be directed to appropriate newsgroups only. Inappropriate postings generate complaints from the USENET community. Complaints from USENET subscribers regarding postings that originate from USC may result in disciplinary action.

2.4 For guidelines on bulk mailing, please see the Mass Email Procedures page.

2.5 Mail relay is not available on USC mail servers due to the reality that many Internet service providers (ISPs) are blocking email from sites that allow mail relay.

Section 3. Web Resources

3.1 The World Wide Web Environment

3.1.1 Like all other forms of electronic communication, information disseminated via the World Wide Web must conform to university policies and applicable laws.

3.1.2 Because of the growing prominence of the World Wide Web as a means of information dissemination and communication, university Web authors should pay close attention to and take responsibility for the information placed on their sites. The Web fosters rapid creation and dissemination of information without close supervision. Before launching a site, users should take into consideration how other university policies and guidelines may apply to content within the Web environment.

3.1.3 The USC Identity Program Guidelines – which govern how USC logos, symbols, and trademarks may be used – are in full force in the Web environment. Further information about the USC Identity Program and its guidelines is available online (

3.1.4 Academic Web pages should conform to the curriculum materials as articulated in theUniversity Catalogue and should refer to that publication as the document of authority for all students.

3.2 University Web Sites

3.2.1 University Web sites include those sponsored and maintained by academic and administrative units; student, faculty, or staff organizations; or their appointed designates. Each university Web site must provide an effective feedback mechanism (e.g., email or Web form) allowing visitors to communicate with the group responsible for the site. Such feedback mechanisms must be monitored regularly, and a site representative should either issue a response or route messages to an appropriate party in a timely manner. As with other forms of information and communication, appropriate university officials are accountable for Web sites in their area of responsibility.

3.3 Personal Web Sites

3.3.1 The content of individual Web pages is a matter of free speech and academic freedom that must be protected in a university environment. Users should be aware, however, that the Internet is a very powerful means for publishing ideas and opinions. Information made available in personal Web pages may be viewed by anyone in the world who has Internet access. The university will not be held responsible for the content of personal Web pages. However, it reserves the right to remove from any USC server a Web page found to be in violation of federal, state or local law, or any university regulations, policies, or procedures.

3.4 Advertising on USCweb

3.4.1 Advertising by external agencies is not permitted on university Web pages, except as noted below. University Web pages cannot be used to promote or execute commercial or for-profit endeavors.

3.4.2 University academic and administrative units may acknowledge corporate sponsorships through text and/or the display of corporate logos or trademarks, which may link to sites beyond the domain. For example, a unit’s Web page publicizing a performance or special event may display information and provide links to sponsors that underwrite the activity. USC academic and administrative units may use their Web pages to promote and market university services and products.

Section 4. Computer Usage and Account Policies

4.1 Activity Monitoring and Privacy

4.1.1 Use of university computers and networks may be subject to monitoring. The privacy of activities on these systems cannot be ensured.

4.1.2 Although users may not assume absolute privacy, every possible effort will be made to try to ensure it. Monitoring is performed by the Information Technology Services (ITS) solely to investigate security or policy violations, and is not done capriciously. Individual privacy is fully respected at all times. Monitoring is undertaken only by full-time ITS staff members.

4.1.3 Account holders should also be aware that on occasion, ITS staff members may during the performance of their duties, inadvertently view the contents of electronic communications and other information stored on university computers. Except as provided elsewhere in these policies or any other university policy, ITS staff are not permitted to do so intentionally or disclose any information that they might have become privy to.

4.2 Computer Accounts

4.2.1 Computer accounts are provided to faculty, staff, and students as a privilege associated with membership in the university community. When individuals accept this privilege, they assume a number of responsibilities, including knowledge of applicable university policies and laws.

4.2.2 No one is permitted to share his or her university computer account with any other person, in any way. Users must not give their passwords to a friend, allow remote or password-free logins to their accounts, or permit another individual to use their account after personally logging in. Account holders will never be asked to reveal their password(s) associated with an ITS-supported system by a university official.

4.2.3 Users of university computing resources are responsible for the actions performed on their accounts. If an individual has any knowledge of unauthorized use of his or her account, he or she is in violation of this policy and is responsible for any actions taken by the unauthorized user.

4.2.4 If ITS detects that an account has been accessed in violation of university policies or that specific account activity may pose a risk to the system as a whole, that account may, without warning, be disabled.

4.2.5 ITS is a resource for students, faculty, and staff. Users should contact ITS immediately if they suspect unauthorized access of their account.

4.3 Limits on Computing Resources

4.3.1 Although computing resources available to the university community are vast, they are limited. Therefore, ITS must ration usage to ensure that all users have adequate access to efficient and reliable computing resources. Resource limits apply to time-sharing hosts, campus servers and the university network infrastructure. The policies below cite specific restrictions and identify activities designed to ensure maximum benefit to each user.

4.3.2 For account holders accessing ITS time-sharing systems, limits exist based upon CPU usage (time and percentage), total number of user processes, memory and disk space usage. Limits may be system-wide or specific to a particular host. Current limits are published online ( and change periodically based on available resources. Use of ITS time-sharing systems to run network servers (including Web servers, IRC servers or BOTS) and game servers (such as MUDD) is prohibited due to the performance and resource impact of these programs. Individuals using a data port for access to network resources are limited to one device or MAC address per port (equipment such as hubs, switches and routers which allow multiple devices to be connected concurrently or gateways that do NAT are prohibited).

4.3.4 The use of specific UNIX commands known to produce resource drains on the system is prohibited. Examples of such commands are find commands over NFS mounted file systems. As an alternative, account holders could use the -fstype nfs -prune -o options to avoid excessive burden on the system. Any other user-developed commands that monopolize computing resources and significantly impact the ability of other users are prohibited.

4.3.5 Running ypcat is prohibited on USC systems as it results in moving a large file across the network. Instead, ypmatch with the correct arguments can be used to access the same information. For more information about the “ypmatch” command, Type man ypmatch orypmatch -x at the UNIX prompt.

4.3.6 Individuals accessing the university network through personal workstations have the potential to negatively impact the performance of their local network and the university network as a whole. Network access from individual workstations will be restricted for any machine(s) found to be causing a network problem. In many cases, this will result in the restriction of network access to all machines sharing the network segment.

4.3.7 Individuals making use of the residential hall network (ResNet) may not provide access to their systems to individuals outside the university community. One of the reasons access of this nature is prohibited, is because it could compromise license agreements that restrict resource use to members of the USC community.

4.3.8 The use of ITS time-sharing systems to run specific UNIX programs is restricted if versions of the program are widely available for use on local workstations. These programs perform better when run from the local computer and therefore reduce the overall load on central time-sharing systems. Web browsers are the foremost examples of such programs.

4.3.9 Excessive POP connections to a primary mail server can result in significant server load reducing performance for all users. As a result, POP connections – the type of connection made by desktop mail clients such as Eudora, Netscape Mail, or Microsoft Outlook – are limited. At this time, computing policies limit the number of times an individual user can “POP” into their account in two ways: (1) a limit of 10 connection in any 10 minutes period and (2) a total of 300 total connections in any given day.

Section 5. Copyrights and Intellectual Property

5.1 Copyright laws apply to all information available electronically. The university expects all members of its community to obey the laws governing usage of intellectual property. Illegitimate use of such property includes, but is not limited to:

5.1.1 Reproduction of copyrighted materials, trademarks, or other protected material in any electronic form without express written permission from the material’s owner. Many of the found materials on the Web enjoy protected status under current intellectual property laws. Web authors are cautioned to remember this and restrict the usage of such materials in their own publications.

5.1.2 Distribution or duplication of copyrighted software without appropriate licensing agreements or use of software in a manner inconsistent with its license. Each university department head must make reasonable efforts to ensure that individuals under his or her supervision adhere to appropriate software licensing agreements, including those negotiated by the Information Technology Services (ITS) for the university as a whole. Individuals are cautioned that illegally duplicating or distributing software is a felony in California.

5.1.3 Distribution or reproduction, in any digital form, of copyrighted music, video, or other multimedia content without the express written permission of the material’s rightful owner.

Section 6. Commercial Usage

6.1 Computing resources are provided by the university in order to facilitate the pursuit of academic purposes, including teaching, scholarship, research, communication and other creative endeavors. To this end, individuals are prohibited from using their accounts in association with any commercial purpose or enterprise. This includes but is not limited to advertising a product or service on personal Web pages.