Novice sysadmins (was: Suggestions for a more privacy conscious email provider)

bzs at bzs at
Thu Dec 7 04:14:15 CST 2017

I realize there has been some call to end this thread but if I may add
a little history...

On December 5, 2017 at 06:49 list at (Stephen Satchell) wrote:
 > Indeed.  What Ajit Pai missed in his deliberations for the Dec 14 FCC 
 > vote is that the Internet as we know it was developed under the stern 
 > eyes of the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation. 
 > The NSF in particular ran the 'Net like bouncers do in a strip club: 
 > you break the rules, you go.  No argument.

I'm not sure I remember it quite like that, maybe I haven't been in
enough strip clubs.

But it wasn't a big problem. Under DARPA you needed a (generally
military) sponsor and research activity to connect to the ARPAnet so
any threat to that relationship was taken very seriously.

NSFNET was largely a network of university and research institutions
basically without the sponsor requirement (or put another way with NSF
as your rubber-stamp sponsor) so if there were any problem it would be
referred to the institution.

Prior to NSFNET I was involved in putting a 10mb microwave between
Boston Univ and Harvard which completed a high speed loop between

So several of us at the the three universities involved in
administering the net put together a mailing list to discuss progress
and generally stay in touch.

One of the major topics became:

  If one of MY students (&c) misbehaves on MY network then I know what
  to do. What do I do if one of YOUR students (&c) misbehaves on MY
  network? Is there even process in place?

A few years later, 1989, I began putting the public on the internet
for the first time.

I was called into a videoconference at BBN with Jon Postel and a
couple of DARPA people, I forget who exactly but I remember uniforms.

They wanted to know:

  What happens if one of MY customers misbehaves?

That is, same concern again.

I said honestly I don't really know. I can cancel their account but
there's little stopping them from creating a new account.

Ultimately what I was doing was approved by NSF as an investigation of
exactly this though no one ever followed up.

It's been the same issue for over 30 years.

(end of my comments, rest left for context.)

 > The original trust model for the Internet was based on this unrelenting 
 > oversight.  You didn't expect Bad Things(tm) because the consequences of 
 > doing them was so severe:  banishment and exile.  Also, the technical 
 > ability required to do Bad Things(tm) wasn't easily won.  Accessing the 
 > 'Net was a PRIVILEGE, not a right.  Abuse at your own peril.
 > Organizations had experienced sysadmins because it was imperative to the 
 > survival of the connection to the 'Net.  One gained experience by being 
 > apprenticed to some experienced sysadmin.  Today:  not so much.
 > Indeed, I'm not aware of any certification that applies to system 
 > administrators.  Network administrators have certs that are 
 > well-recognized and accepted.  Mail admins?  Server admins?  The certs 
 > that are out there border on jokes or disguised sale pitches.  (Not 
 > unlike a certain operating system and software product vendor who put 
 > "free" copies into schools to build their marketing base.)
 > Ok, I'll shut up now.

        -Barry Shein

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