Responsibilities of host and network managers: A summary of the "oral tradition" of the Internet
RFC 1173

Document Type RFC - Informational (August 1990; No errata)
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                    J. Van Bokkelen
Request for Comments:  1173                           FTP Software, Inc.
                                                             August 1990

             Responsibilities of Host and Network Managers
           A Summary of the "Oral Tradition" of the Internet

Status of this Memo

   This informational RFC describes the conventions to be followed by
   those in charge of networks and hosts in the Internet.  It is a
   summary of the "oral tradition" of the Internet on this subject.
   [RFC Editor's note:  This memo is a contribution by the author of his
   view of these conventions.  It is expected that this RFC will provide
   a basis for the development of official policies in the future.]
   These conventions may be supplemented or amended by the policies of
   specific local and regional components of the Internet.  This RFC
   does not specify a standard, or a policy of the IAB.  Distribution of
   this memo is unlimited.

Table of Contents

   Status of this Memo .............................................. 1
   1. Basic Responsibilities......................................... 1
   2. Responsibilities of Network Managers........................... 2
   3. Responsibilities of Host System Managers....................... 2
   4. Postmaster@foo.bar.baz......................................... 3
   5. Problems and Resolutions....................................... 3
   6. The Illusion of Security....................................... 4
   7. Summary........................................................ 5
   8. Security Considerations........................................ 5
   9. Author's Address............................................... 5

1. Basic Responsibilities

   The Internet is a co-operative endeavor, and its usefulness depends
   on reasonable behaviour from every user, host and router in the
   Internet.  It follows that people in charge of the components of the
   Internet MUST be aware of their responsibilities and attentive to
   local conditions.  Furthermore, they MUST be accessible via both
   Internet mail and telephone, and responsive to problem reports and
   diagnostic initiatives from other participants.

   Even local problems as simple and transient as system crashes or
   power failures may have widespread effects elsewhere in the net.
   Problems which require co-operation between two or more responsible
   individuals to diagnose and correct are relatively common.  Likewise,

Van Bokkelen                                                    [Page 1]
RFC 1173     Responsibilities of Host and Network Managers   August 1990

   the tools, access and experience needed for efficient analysis may
   not all exist at a single site.

   This communal approach to Internet management and maintenance is
   dictated by the present decentralized organizational structure.  The
   structure, in turn, exists because it is inexpensive and responsive
   to diverse local needs.  Furthermore, for the near term, it is our
   only choice; I don't see any prospect of either the government or
   private enterprise building a monolithic, centralized, ubiquitous "Ma
   Datagram" network provider in this century.

2. Responsibilities of Network Managers

   One or more individuals are responsible for every IP net or subnet
   which is connected to the Internet.  Their names, phone numbers and
   postal addresses MUST be supplied to the Internet NIC (or to the
   local or regional transit network's NIC) prior to the network's
   initial connection to the Internet, and updates and corrections MUST
   be provided in a timely manner for as long as the net remains
   connected.

   In order to adequately deal with problems that may arise, a network
   manager must have either:

      A. System management access privileges on every host and router
         connected to the local network, or:

      B. The authority and access to either power off, re-boot,
         physically disconnect or disable forwarding IP datagrams from
         any individual host system that may be misbehaving.

   For all networks, a network manager capable of exercising this level
   of control MUST be accessible via telephone 8 hours a day, 5 days a
   week.  For nets carrying transit traffic, a network manager SHOULD be
   accessible via telephone 24 hours a day.

3. Responsibilities of Host System Managers

   One or more individuals must be responsible for every host connected
   to the Internet.  This person MUST have the authority, access and
   tools necessary to configure, operate and control access to the
   system.  For important timesharing hosts, primary domain name servers
   and mail relays or gateways, responsible individual(s) SHOULD be
   accessible via telephone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

   For less-important timesharing hosts or single-user PCs or
   workstations, the responsible individual(s) MUST be prepared for the
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