What is Akamai NetSession Client (users\**\appdata\local\akamai\netsession_win.exe and is it OK to grant network access?

My laptop vendor sent a notice to update my BIOS software, which I did.  Upon automatic reboot, I got a Windows Security alert, advising that Windows firewall has blocked some features of Akamai NetSession Client on public and provate networks... Allow Akamai NetSessin client to communicate on private/public networks?
 

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Last updated November 16, 2019 Views 1,551,085 Applies to:

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My laptop vendor sent a notice to update my BIOS software, which I did.  Upon automatic reboot, I got a Windows Security alert, advising that Windows firewall has blocked some features of Akamai NetSession Client on public and provate networks... Allow Akamai NetSessin client to communicate on private/public networks?


http://www.akamai.com/client/

 

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/29615-63-akamai-netsession-client

MVP Consumer Security 2014-2016
Windows Insider MVP 2016-2018

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"The Akamai NetSession Interface is a secure application that may be installed on your computer to improve the speed, reliability, and efficiency for downloads and streams from the Internet. It is used by many software and media publishers to deliver files or streams to you."

more info at http://www.akamai.com/html/solutions/client_faq.html

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Akamai does not come right out and say it, but the reason NetSession is installed on your computer is to allow them to use your computer to "upstream" content to other users.  By installing NetSession, you are allowing Akamai to use your idle bandwidth to upload files to other Akamai users.

Untangling some of the statements from: http://www.akamai.com/html/solutions/client_design_principles.html

"The information that Akamai does capture is similar to a web server and that information is utilized for troubleshooting and network performance monitoring only."  That means that NetSession continually sends information about your computer to Akamai.

They say that NetSession will only use your computer when it is "idle or utilizing minimal network resources."  That means that NetSession is constantly monitoring your network use, and sending that information to Akamai.  And since bandwidth usage varies from second to second, that info must be sent up to Akamai a lot.  Wait a minute, didn't they just say they only captured the sort of info that web servers capture?  Web servers don't capture info on bandwidth use.  What other information does Akamai capture?  I could not find any specifics on their site.

So if you install NetSession, you will be joining a peer-to-peer network, and allowing Akamai to deliver files from your computer at times when Akamai deems you to be utilizing your bandwidth minimally.

I also have a security concern about the files I am receiving from NetSession.  It seems like it would not be difficult to download a file using NetSession, modify it to carry a virus payload, and then leave that computer idle, and wait for NetSession to transmit the infected file to other NetSession users.  I would hope that Akamai has taken steps to address this concern, but I can't find any information on that.


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I don't have netsession installed, yet I still get sockets opening to their site.  The process was explorer.exe.  Sounds like netsession is malware.

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You're extrapolating from a single sentence in a much larger document, ever heard of 'context'?
A proper answer requires a much better explanation than you've given here - you are guessing about the way it captures information and positing it as fact.  Akamai's primary role is to take the burden off a company's web site by mirroring their content and serving it from Akamai servers.  It's simply a way for web-busy companies to be able to offload their worries about hardware and distribution - Akamai carries the burden of the server hardware and management, and it makes sense.  Companies can focus on what they do best and not have to worry about their internet servers; Akamai can focus on what they do best, that is, serving data to the internet.  Akamai also protects corporate datacenters from malicious attacks by acting as a buffer/firewall between them and the internet.  One benefit from this is that you are probably getting data from a close-by Akamai server instead of maybe the other side of the world.
The reason for file sharing going on between clients is that those common files (which are downloaded anyway, even if Akamai wasn't in the background) are always common to a particular web presence - such as fixed banners and company logos.  So that in turn reduces the burden on Akamai's servers - where I come from, that's called efficiency.  
Uninstalling or disabling Akamai could possibly break some applications (see the customer list below), and will almost certainly slow your web browsing down.  Remember that Akamai is installed by the program that wants it, not by Akamai themselves, and if a company starts using it then it might suddenly come up as a warning via windows security.  My ESET isn't bothered by it and McAfee actually uses it.  
The list of customers below gives some idea of the magnitude of its use.  Even NASA uses it.
You can check what it's doing by opening control panel/Akamai Net Session Interface Control Panel.  This will show you which programs are using it and how much data is actually being used, and from here you have some control over what it is doing.
Interesting (unsourced) quote from shouldiblockit
'During the process's lifecycle, the typical CPU resource utilization is about 0.0042% including both foreground and background operations, the average private memory consumption is about 6.96 MB with the maximum memory reaching around 12.62 MB. Additionally, typically read and write I/O disk operations is about 7.65 KB per minute for reads and 2.13 KB per minute for writes.'  
People whining about paying for additional bandwidth, pffffft.

Check out the customer list:
http://www.akamai.com/html/customers/customer_list.html

There are a lot of resources online:
http://www.shouldiblockit.com/netsession_win.exe-9782.aspx
http://www.akamai.com/html/solutions/client_faq.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akamai_Technologies
http://www.riverbed.com/about/news-articles/press-releases/akamai-and-riverbed-to-accelerate-applications-over-hybrid-cloud-networks.html
http://www.cityu.edu.hk/csc/deptweb/facilities/ctnet/akamai.htm
http://www.appriver.com/services/secure-hosted-exchange/performance-optimization.aspx

Etc etc yada yada yada ad infinitum.

The only question for the average user here is what to allow, and no matter how hard I look I can't find a reliable source that actually sensibly answers the question with good logical reasoning.  Personally I don't feel threatened at all by Akamai, I understand what it is doing and why, and their customer list speaks volumes about their responsibilities, so I have allowed both public and private access.

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Sounds like OnTech is just being cautious. Sounds like you are employed by Akamai. I am blocking!

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I don't think I've taken anything out of context.  I'm describing what NetSession does.  You're right that Akamai's primary purpose is to serve their clients' data.  I think is less clear  that if you have NetSession enabled, Akamai is using your computer to send their clients' data to other computers on the Internet.  Akamai is saving money by offloading some of the load from their servers to desktops running NetSession.   The list of clients shows that Akamai is not fly-by-night, but those clients are organizations that are paying Akamai to host their data, not companies that have installed NetSession to allow Akamai to host other people's data on their desktops.

Akamai has opened up somewhat since my first post (for example, the FAQ you showed: http://www.akamai.com/html/solutions/client_faq.html).  But I still have some problems with NetSession:
1) Akamai gets paid to serve client information quickly.  Desktop computers with NetSession are doing some of that serving, but the owners of those computers are not being compensated.  You may call that efficiency, but some might call it theft.  Granted, if Akamai paid NetSession users, it would probably be a tiny amount of money, since they don't put much strain on each desktop computer, but to me, it's of like I have a corner of my yard that I never use, and my local grocery store starts using it as a vegetable garden.  I may not even notice the garden out there, but on principle, it seems like they should get my OK, and maybe compensate me.
2) When NetSession is installed, Akamai does not ask,, "Is it OK for us to use your computer to serve our clients' content?"  Apparently there is now a control panel that allows you to turn off uploading, but most people don't even realize that the software has been installed, much less that it is using their bandwidth.  In the garden analogy, it's like my grocery store does deliveries, and hidden in the terms and conditions for the delivery service is a paragraph giving them the right to grow veggies in unused portions of my yard.
3) Sticking with the garden analogy, how would customers feel if they found out the produce in the store was being raised in neighbors' yards?  I'd want to know how the store was ensuring that the produce was safe, since some back yards are contaminated.  I'm not happy to know that some of the files I download are coming from computers outside of Akamai's control, and I can't tell which files.  I'm sure Akamai takes steps to ensure the safety of the data, but it's still less secure than data on Akamai's servers.
4) I don't share anything from my desktop, because that would turn my desktop into a server, and my desktop isn't hardened enough to play that role.  But NetSession turns my desktop into a server without even telling me.  Serving as a conduit for other people's files makes my desktop less secure.  Again,  I'm sure Akamai takes steps to minimize the risk to my desktop, but it's still less secure.
5) As you pointed out, the information available is a little vague.  What information does NetSession send to Akamai about my desktop?  What is the maximum bandwidth used?  How do I know the files are safe?  Does the software open a port to the Internet?  I would need a lot more information before I trust this software.

Akamai is using the property of thousands of unwitting computer owners to make money, without telling people that their computers are being used, much less explaining exactly how they are using their computer, to say nothing of compensating the owners.

For most users, the impact is probably as negligible as Akamai claims.  However, Akamai does admit "There have been some cases in which a particular busy computer with high bandwidth usage has experienced reduced download performance."  If my mom had downloaded NetSession, she would never figure out that NetSession was the reason her videoconferences with the grandkids had gotten choppier.

I won't install it.  Nor will I install software that depends on it.

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I don't care who Akamai's clients are either.  I uninstalled their program and will NOT reinstall it, just on the simple principle that my computer is my computer and no one should have free access to it's limited resources.  Thank you very much OnTech for your well written response.

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Saying that really means that akamai is using our computers as their servers.

My old machine that i use for surfing the internet and occasionally download some software or evaluations have in the last 26 days downloaded 529 MB

and hear now,
uploaded 3,99 GB 

Obviously I've removed the akamai software and the downloads it was uploading :-/

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I found Akaimi in my processes as well.  I'm pretty sure I uninstalled it before and the needed it for some game I was playing.  But can't remember which one.  Will find out....

I agree with bot sides of the argument.  But....

I noticed that the word Akami is nowhere to be found on my hard drive.  Although there is an Akami in the uninstall programs menu, it still seems a bit weird.  I'm sure it was installed with one of my many games (turds).  The list of web sites is sketchy at best.  I imagine a lot of data mining is going on behind our backs.  I'll disable it and see what shakes out.  Good luck all.

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