We will be making a slight home directory permissions change for all users on our systems. The end result will lock down access to user home directories so that only the owner of the account can access the files. We expect this to only affect a very small minority of users who have specifically opened up their home directories and files for others to access. If needed, the change can be quickly reversed by the user by using the chmod command.

We are doing this because:

  • Although we’ve moved towards more tightly locking down home directories over the years, there have been inconsistencies on the creation of some accounts.
  • The default umask that we set up to secure all files and directories created by users (077) has become less reliable recently due to changes in newer versions of Ubuntu linux that affect graphical user interfaces.
  • We have moved the public_html web directory out of user home directories. This means that the web server no longer needs access into home directories to get to it.

All of these factors make it possible for us to more forcefully lock down access to home directories (except for the owner) unless they specifically want to make it more permissive.

This change only affects the regular Linux accounts of users. Special quizor accounts used in CS are not affected.

If you run into any problems that seem to stem from this change, please let us know.