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June 09, 1979 - Image 6

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1979-06-09

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Page 6-Saturday, June 9, 1979-The Michigan Daily
By Sara Anspach and Patricia Hagen

A TONE TIME only fledgling Ein-"
steins could comprehend the in-
tricate machines that work even
faster than the human brain. Today,
computers are an inescapable part of
life and more and more people are
learning the'trade.'
Yet, as computer use rapidly rises,
concern over its abuse mounts. Cases of
computer abuse in related fields con-
tinue to surface in media reports. The
problem extends to college campuses,
including the University, where studen-
ts, researchers, and other program-
mers have extensive access to com-
puter facilities and may use the com-
puters in ethically questionable ways.
These emerging problems are of
special concern to Donn Parker, an in-
formation-management consultant at
SRI International and a leading
authority on computer crime. Parker,
author of "Crime by Computer,"
claims "new generations of computer
criminals" are being trained on college
Parker cited several instances of
computer "abuse:"
* At Queens College in New York,
several students were convicted for
selling grade changes made on the
college computer.
" A doctoral candidate at a univer-
sity in Australia was charged with
changing statistical data his class was
using for research. He managed to fix
the program so that he would receive
the correct answers while his
colleagues would receive slightly
wrong dats.
Assistant night editor Sara Ans-
pach covers academics for the
Daily. Patricia Hagen, also an
assistant night editor, covers labor
for the Daily.
AVENUE at LIBERTY ST. 761-9700
Formerly.Fifth Forum Theater
"One of the movie mile-
stones of the decade"

* A student from Wayne State
University in Detroit learned how to ob-
tain other user's passwords and stole
$2,000 worth of computer time.
These people were caught in their at-
tempts to manipulate the computers.
But what frightens many computer ex-
perts and users is the possibility that
many others have not been caught and
may not ever be discovered.
A basic problem in the field of com-
puter science, according to Parker, is
the lack of a set of traditional ethics
regarding what is and what is not con-
sidered appropriate use of the com-
puter. In medicine, business, law, and
other established academic areas,
"ethical rules are passed down from
professors to students," said Parker.
He claims that in computer departmen-
ts in universities and in other 'real
world' spheres there is much confusion
over what is considered legal, ethical,
and appropriate.
Parker said although it is "im-
possible" to estimate the extent of the
problem, he has "a general feeling that
this unauthorized kind of activity goes
on in every university and college to
some degree."
Despite the nationwide increase in
the use of computers for education and
research, there "has been no explicit
statement of what is authorized and
unauthorized use at most universities,"
Parker stated.
Alarming reports of expensive and
harmful computer fraud and abuse in
some business, government, and
educational institutions have prompted
University staff and administration to
examine the situation here and begin to
form more comprehensive guidelines
for computer use.
While there haven't been any specific
incidents of "criminal" computer ac-
tivity on campus, there is concern over
unauthorized and inappropriate use of
the computer systems by staff and
students in many departments.
"It's time to look into policy issues on
campus," said Biological Chemistry
Prof. Gordon Nordby, chairman of a
subcommittee recently formed to
assess computer use and to devise a
written policy. "I'm not conscious of
any major problem here. (The -sub-
committee) will set some guidelines in
advance of major problems."
Nordby said the subcommittee will
avoid dealing primarily with the more
negative aspects of the system such as
crime, security, and discipline. In-
stead, it will focus on producing some
"useful" guidelines for the entire
University community.
The Michigan Terminal System
(MTS) is the education and research
computer network on campus. During a
peak period, the system handles about

25,000 assigned accounts. The 16 in-
put/output channels and many car-
dreaders and terminals allow about 175
persons to use the system
The central computer, an Amdahl
470V/6, is housed in the University
Computing Center on North Campus.
Computer users on Central Campus run
their programs at NUBS, the North
University Building Station and at
BSAD, the Business Administration
Building Station. Engineering,
business, sociology, and other students
facing deadlines and long waits at
crowded printers often put in all-
nighters debugging their programs.
Time equals money in MTS language.
Users are allotted a certain amount of
"money" in their accounts to run their
programs. Users are supposed to use
only their own funds for the class or
project for which they were allotted -
other use is considered unauthorized.
"Frivolous" use of the computer is
being investigated by University policy
makers. A survey of 50 computer users
conducted last February by the Com-
puting Center showed a wide spectrum
of opinions on what should be con-
sidered frivolous and how those using
the computer frivolously should be
A common response indicated that
any use of the system for which the user
is not specifically authorized should be
termed frivolous. Respondents cited
game-playing and making print-out
pictures as examples of unproductive
use. Many said these practices should
either be prohibited entirely or restric-
ted to low priority periods on MTS.
The survey also asked what penalties
should be assessed against violators ifsa
formal policy regarding frivolous use
were established. Suggested "punish-
ments" ranged from revoking iden-
tification cards and collecting fines to
more lenient measures such as verbal
University computer users disagree
on whether students should be allowed
to play games with account funds left
over after course assignments are
completed. Tom Bahls, a computer
engineering major who has also taken
courses in LSA's Computer and Com-
munication Science (CCS) Department,
noted a general difference in policy
between the two units. The Department
of Electrical and Computer
Engineering (ECE) deems most games
"frivolous," he said, while instructors
in the CCS department take the more
relaxed attitude that "games are a
learning experience."
Associate Director of the Computing
Center Alan Emory said games not
specifically assigned are "frowned
upon" because "money (spent on
games) can't be used for valid instruc-
tional and research use."
Some students are not satisfied with
just game-playing and may try to test
their skill against the system. Those
able to steal another user's password
and ID number can use their knowledge
to gain access to programs, files, and
computer time.
"There's a lot of stealing ID's that
goes on,' said Richard Volz, University
Electrical and computer engineering
professor, and computer policies com-
mittee director. "I don't know how
widespread it is" he added.

LSA SENIOR Dave Clauss works at a
(NUBS). NUBS is where most University
bride that connects Central Campus with th

Popular stage comedy, "The Front Page," is given a couple of neat twists:
The hard-boiled, wise-cracking reporter is. cast as a woman (ROSALtND
RUSSELL) and her ruthless, egomaniacal editor (CARY GRANT) is also her
ex-husband trying to win her back. "Hawk's stroke of intuitive genius was
in sensing that the Hecht-Macarthur play was a love story (between the
publisher and the reporter, between the reporter and the boys in the back
room).. "Short: BUGS BUNNY CARTOONw
Sun: Fritz Lang's M (Free at 8)


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