While logged into our HPC cluster I used w to check out who else was logged in. I happened to notice that it looks like there's another user logged in from my (personal) computer;

19:04:47 up 40 days,  6:39, 44 users,  load average: 0.10, 0.14, 0.18
USER            TTY      FROM              LOGIN@   IDLE   JCPU   PCPU WHAT
ME             pts/4    zerg.neuron12. 18:55    0.00s  0.09s  0.04s w  
SOMEONE_ELSE   pts/35   zerg.neuron12. Sat14    2:27m  0.08s  0.08s -bash

Is this something I should be worried out - I tried to kill the other session but had a permission denied message. Is it possible we just both have the same hardware name? I'd have thought that if this were the case the server would give one of us a different name (e.g. zerg1) when we logged in to prevent confusion.

This is not an area I have any experience with, so any advice would be greatly appreciated!


When you say "my" hardware, I'm assuming you mean the workstation assigned to you by your employer. Most larger institutions employ sysadmins who are responsible for administering a cluster of machines, in which case it's typical to have each workstation set up to authenticate against a centralized directory. If that's so, then it's often the case that anyone with an account on that cluster is able to log into any workstation (including yours), so there's probably nothing to worry about.

  • By my hardware I mean a macbook pro (which admittedly I was given by my employer) but I have personally set up - it's connected directly to the network via an ethernet cable. That said, I guess there's no difference between that and any other machine connected to a LAN right? Where I used to work people could log in to my workstation via SSH too - I just sort of assumed because I personally didn't set anything up that should let that happen then it wouldn't, but I guess it's a network property, not a hardware one? – Alex Jun 5 '12 at 13:10
  • Hmm, logging into someone else's laptop is an odd choice, and somewhat suspicious. Maybe the other user just doesn't realize it's a laptop, but if possible, I would check with the other user and/or the sysadmins to make sure this login was intentional. – jjlin Jun 5 '12 at 16:30

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