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Purpose

The purpose of the Employee Computer Operating and Security Policy is to help protect the University and employees of the University from liability and business interruptions due to inappropriate use of University computers and breaches of computer security.

This policy documents the computer users’ responsibility to safeguard computer equipment and information from accidental or deliberate unauthorized access, tampering, snooping, distribution, or destruction. It sets forth what is, and is not, appropriate use of University computers. Users may be disciplined for noncompliance with University policy. This policy does not and cannot address every computer operating and security issue. It is your responsibility to use sound judgment. Contact Computer Services if you identify an issue or situation that you are not certain how to deal with.

The Employee Computer Operating and Security Policy does not create contractual rights and is subordinate to any collective bargaining agreement, employment contract, or other employment agreements. The University may add to, or change, the policies at any time. Please read the policy carefully and sign the Receipt of Employee Computer Operating and Security Policy form. The signed form should be returned to Administrative Services.

Computer users are responsible for the appropriate use of University computers, and for taking reasonable precautions to secure the information and equipment entrusted to them. Employees are responsible for reporting inappropriate use of University computers, and breaches of computer security, and assisting in resolving such matters. Users are responsible for adhering to University policies and practices as described herein, and in other University policy manuals, to ensure University computers are used in accordance with University policy guidelines, and reasonable measures are taken to prevent loss or damage of computer information and equipment.

Confidentiality

General

Accessing or attempting to access confidential data is strictly prohibited. Confidential information should only be used for its intended purpose. Using confidential information for anything other than its intended use is prohibited, without prior Supervisor approval.

Proprietary Information

University data, databases, programs, and other proprietary information represent University assets and can only be used for authorized University business. Use of University assets for personal gain or benefit is prohibited. Sharing University proprietary information with third parties, is prohibited.

Family Educational and Privacy Rights Act (FERPA)

FERPA is a Federal law that protects an eligible student's privacy interest in his or her "education records." In particular, FERPA affords eligible students the right to inspect and review their education records, the right to seek to have the records amended, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of information from the records. Check with the Information Center at 877-UMA-1234 before releasing student information to anyone.

Handling Confidential Information

The following are inappropriate under normal circumstances when dealing with confidential information:

  • Printing to a printer in an unsecured area where documents may be read by others – try to pick up documents in a timely manner.
  • If you observe a document at a shared printer, or any other location, do not read it without permission.
  • Leaving your computer unattended with confidential files logged on to your system.
  • Leaving computer disks with confidential data unattended, in easy to access places. Remember it only takes a minute to copy a disk.
  • Sending confidential information over the Internet, the University network, dial-up modem lines, or other unsecured communication lines without approval from departmental management and Computer Services.
  • The use of privacy screens should be used in areas where confidential information is being displayed and the computer monitor is positioned in a way that confidential information could be viewed by unauthorized people.

Covered Data

Covered Data is information which requires special protection because it is either protected by legislation or the misuse could harm members of the UMS community or compromise the mission of the System. Covered Data includes:

  1. Personal Information includes an individual's first name, or first initial and last name in combination with a social security number, driver’s license or state identification card number, credit card or debit card number, addresses, phone number, bank account number, income, credit history, loan, course or grade, or a data element alone which if compromised would be sufficient to permit a person to attempt to harm or assume the identity of an individual.
  2. Data defined and protected by FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), GLBA (the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act), HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and by the PCI (Payment Card Industry) standards.
  • Encrypt Covered Data wherever stored.
  • Back-up data regularly. Backup media will be stored in a secure location that will account for survivability and protection of covered data.
  • Secure and cycle the storage media. Test the restore process.
  • When disposing of media which may contain Covered Data destroy or overwrite the media to Department of Defense standards. Deleting files is inadequate. This pertains to removable media and solid state drives as well. If a disk drive doesn’t function, the disks will need to be removed and physically destroyed.
  • Orient computer screens away from the view of others.
  • Set screen savers with password protection to activate after 10 minutes of inactivity.
  • Protect computer hardware from fire, water, theft and power surges.
  • Physically secure all data storage devices against theft - especially laptops and removable media.
  • Completely shut down the desktop computer at the end of the workday.
  • Limit who can remotely access a computer.
  • Maintain the operating system with the latest patches, spy ware and anti-virus tools.
  • Do not download and install unknown programs. Downloads may install spy ware which allows others to access a data without your knowledge and to log keystrokes.
  • Do not open unexpected e-mail attachments.
  • Do not download documents from unknown parties.
  • Avoid storing Covered Data on a device with a web server. Consider password protection of any web site.
  • If a device is used off the network, configure it to preclude passing an infection acquired off the network when reconnected.
  • Contact Computer Services (621-3475 or 888-867-5434) or UMS-ITS (561-3587) with any question about security.

HIPPA: THE HEALTH INSURANCE PORTABILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY ACT OF 1996

Access to information stored in any Campus file or depository, stored electronically, or that exists in any recording device or in any clinical or research data base, collectively hereafter referred to as “health record”, is limited to those who have a valid business or medical need for the information or otherwise have a right to know the information. With the exception of purposes related to treatment and other limited exceptions, access to an individual’s protected health information must, to the extent practicable, be limited only to that necessary to accomplish the intended purpose of the approved use, disclosure or request. For the purposes of compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), employment records and UM System student records subject to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and UM System student medical records, are specifically excluded from the definition of “protected health information.”

Physical Security

Physical security is critical to protecting your computer and computer information from loss and damage. Store flash drives, external hard drives, etc and other sensitive information in a locked drawer. Turn off your computer when it is not in use for an extended period of time and lock the door to your office if you will be away for any length of time. Use a screen saver with a password to keep unauthorized users from access to your data. Computer Services provides a “UMA” screen saver that requires your Novell password to access the computer. By taking a few minutes to practice good physical security, your investment of time will provide an excellent return, and help prevent temptation by others.

Back-ups

Users are responsible for regular back up of essential computer files, and secure storage of back-up disks. In the event of a catastrophe, it takes a few hours to rebuild software programs on a computer. With proper back-up practices, it should take about the same amount of time to replace the data.

Backing up files is critical to productivity, and safeguarding data against unwanted intrusions. Important files should be backed-up daily. Decisions about what to back up, and how often to back-up, should be considered with one simple thought in mind. How much productivity would be lost if your computer were stolen or the hard drive crashed? Remember - data will be lost. Eventually, it happens to everyone.

All backed-up files should be stored on a secure CD, flash drive, external hard drive, or server drive, other than the one containing the original data. For the Augusta and Bangor campuses, the K: drive is personal user space. The X: drive is the common area shared by users. The common X: drive has folders that a user has access to. These folders can be shared among office co-workers, committee members, etc. Both the K: and X: drives are backed up nightly by Computer Services. Contact Computer Services for assistance in using the K: or X: drive. All removable back-up media should be stored on Campus, either in a fire-proof box or in a different building from the computer to prevent loss from fire, etc. Data should not be taken from campus on a regular basis.

Unauthorized Access

Any form of tampering, including snooping and hacking, to gain access to computers is a violation of University policy. Employees are required to turn their computer off at the end of the day, and when not in use for an extended period of time. This will help prevent computer security breaches.

  • Unauthorized access of University computers is prohibited.
  • Unauthorized access of third-party computers, using University computers, is prohibited.
  • Attempting to access University computers without specific authorization is prohibited.

Copyright Infringement

The University does not own computer software, but rather licenses the right to use software. Accordingly, University licensed software may only be reproduced by authorized University officials in accordance with the terms of the software licensing agreements. Unauthorized copying, redistributing, and republishing of copyrighted or proprietary material are strictly prohibited. Copyright laws apply on the Internet as well. Copyright infringement is serious business, and the University strictly prohibits any such activity. If you have questions about copyright infringement, discuss it with Computer Services.

Copies of shareware or “free” programs must be registered with the Computer Services department. Shareware and free software often have licensing and use restrictions, and should not be copied or forwarded to others. Typically, if you continue to use shareware you must send in a “donation,” often of a specified amount. If you neglect to do so, you may have committed copyright infringement. If you provide the program to a friend, you may have violated copyright law. It is also not unusual for “free” software to contain a virus. It is important that all software is registered with and installed by the Computer Services department. Your supervisor and the Computer Services department must approve requests for software application programs. The Windows operating systems restrict installation of software unless installed using the administrator password. Contact Computer Services for all software installations. Proper licensing documentation, including documentation for shareware and “free” programs must be provided prior to installation.

Downloading Music and Video - Peer-To-Peer File sharing

Copyrighted material, including most music, is often downloaded or distributed illegally using peer-to-peer file sharing software or "P2P," which allow computers to share files directly with other computers. There are countless P2P systems, e.g., Limewire, Kazaa, Bearshare, Gnutella, etc., that allow you to download music and video files apparently for free. P2P have many serious problems:

  • Downloaded music and video files are usually copyrighted. After you retrieve a file using P2P, your computer becomes a server, offering the file to other P2P users and making you responsible for illegal distribution. UMS ITS receive daily complaints of computers illegally distributing copyrighted materials from our networks. Copyright holders are not required to warn you before taking legal action. Copyright violation can also result in criminal prosecution.
  • Once your computer is an illegal P2P server it can:
    • run more slowly
    • slow down the entire University network
    • result in a minimum $750 fine per song you share
  • Downloaded files can infect your computer with viruses, expose confidential information and lead to identify theft.
  • Using P2P can result in University disciplinary action, including termination, for misuse of University property.

How to Protect Yourself

  • If you use your computer to access confidential student and/or employee information you should NEVER INSTALL ANY ADDITIONAL SOFTWARE, from any source, without first checking with Computer Services staff.
  • The safest course of action is limiting use of your university computer to university business. If you can't live without music while working: Play regular CD's in your computer. Purchasing used CD's online, e.g., thru Amazon.com's marketplace or eBay.com is a good way to build your CD collection.

Paid services may not be legal! Several P2P systems offer a paid service. This does not make their use legal. If you buy songs online, make sure the source is legal and avoid anything that requires you to install software on your computer. The Center for Democracy and Technology maintains a partial list of illegal sites posing as legal music sellers.

Avoid legal subscription services, e.g., Napster or Ruckus, that require you to install software that may interfere with business use of your computer.

Windows Media Player, included with Microsoft Windows, is reasonably safe to use for playing CD's and legally‐purchased and downloaded music.

There are sources of free and legal music on the Internet. Research carefully before using them. For example, the "Live Music Archive" at www.archive.org provides free access to music with the approval of copyright holders.

Be careful before bringing a PERSONAL computer onto a university network. Students and employees have been caught when they bring a personal laptop computer, with P2P software installed, to a university facility and attach to campus wireless networks.

You are ultimately responsible for whatever you choose to do with your computer beyond University business. Nothing herein relieves you of your responsibility to ensure that your actions are legal and the University makes no guarantee that following the advice herein will protect you from legal action or financial consequences. The safest course of action is to use your university‐provided computer for university business only.

Passwords

The University could be at risk when someone obtains your password. Computers often contain confidential information, and if this information is accessed and distributed, it could cause great harm to you, a co-worker, or a student. Once someone obtains your password, they have the capacity to, among other things:

  • Send e-mail to individuals, or groups, representing themselves as you
  • Disseminate your files over the Internet
  • Delete or alter files
  • Monitor your work
  • Share your password with other interested parties

Passwords must not be shared and no one should be allowed to use your password. If someone else must perform your duties in your absence, they should be given access to perform these duties using their password.

Password Selection and Protection

Select difficult passwords. Change them regularly, and protect them from snoopers. Users will be held accountable for password selection and protection.

Do not share your password with anyone. Do not write it down where someone can find it, do not send it over the Internet, e-mail, dial-up modem, or any other communication line.

The following characteristics must be used for password selection:

  • Contain both upper and lower case characters (e.g., a-z, A-Z)
  • Contain digits and punctuation characters as well as letters (e.g., 0-9, !@#$%^&*()_+|~-=\`{}[]:";'<>?,./)
  • Are at least eight alphanumeric characters long
  • Are not a standalone word in any language, slang, dialect or jargon, etc.
  • Are not based on personal information, names of family, etc.
  • Are changed every 180 days using a password text not previously chosen

If you have a question about password selection or safekeeping, please contact Computer Services.

Forgotten Passwords

Another concern is forgetting your password. Getting into your computer when you have forgotten the password is, in some cases, very difficult. A good method to help you remember your password is to select passwords that are unique to you, and try to use it at least once every day. For example, if you live on Elm Street, do not select “elm” as a password. Select the nearest crossroad and always finish, embed, or start with a number.

If you forget your password, contact Computer Services.

Hackers

Hackers frequently penetrate computer systems by calling unsuspecting employees representing themselves as a new employee, executive of the University, or another trusted individual. Through a variety of probing questions, they obtain the information necessary for their hacker programs to do their work.

Never give any information about computer systems out over the telephone, or in any other way. Do not even give your id and password to a member of Computer Services. There is no need for Computer Services to know your password; they can perform all necessary functions using an administrator password. If someone requests such information, get their name and phone number, and tell them you will get right back to them. Report the incident immediately to Computer Services.

Using hacker programs and trying to access computer systems using hacker techniques is prohibited. Trying to hack into third party computer systems using University computers is prohibited, and will be reported to the local authorities. Hacker crimes result in millions of dollars of downtime, lost data, and other problems. If you are caught hacking, it is a serious offense. If you identify vulnerability in the University's computer security system, report it to Computer Services.

Viruses, Worms and Trojan Horses

It is critical that users make certain that data and software installed on University computers are free of viruses. Do not tamper with the anti-virus software installed on your computer. The anti-virus software has been specifically configured to protect your computer from viruses. This software should run quietly in the background so that you are not aware it exists, unless it notifies you of a virus. If you have questions concerning this software, contact Computer Services. NOTE: The UMS has licensed anti-virus software for use on University owned computers and the home computers of all faculty, staff, and students. Contact Computer Services to obtain the location to download the software.

Use of virus, worm, or trojan horse programs or any other intrusive virus program is prohibited. If you identify a virus, worm, or trojan horse, or what you suspect to be one, do not try to fix the problem. Immediately shut down your computer, make notes as to what you observed, and contact Computer Services immediately at the helpdesk number 621-3475 for Augusta and 262-7746 for Bangor. The principal concern is stopping the contamination before additional damage is done.

When you are notified by a friend or colleague that you should watch for a specific virus or to delete a specific file because it may contain a virus, you should check with Computer Services to verify the integrity of the advice. Most of the time this will be a hoax, and many hoaxes have been spread by good intentions. Never take action or notify other users unless you have verified the advice with a member of Computer Services.

Personal Use of Computers

Incidental and occasional personal use of University computers is permitted for reasonable activities that do not need substantial computer hard disk space, or other computer equipment. As a general rule, if you would be uncomfortable asking for permission, it is probably not an appropriate use of University computers. When employees are “off the clock” or in “downtime” sending brief personal email, accessing the Internet, sending or responding to brief instant messaging, playing games, using programs on a University PC or using modest amounts of file storage is acceptable. Prohibited activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Any game/MUD (Multi-use Dungeon)
  • Any instant messaging/Chat software
  • Web Shots automatic image updating
  • Any unlicensed software
  • Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express (unless you have a Mac computer running less than OS X)
  • Any illegal activity

Accidents, Mistakes and Spills

It is not hackers, snoopers, viruses, worms, or trojan horses that cause the most damage to computers and information. It is usually us, the computer users. According to current research, most data loss and damage to computers is done by authorized users. Mistakes and accidents represent the biggest cost when it comes to computer information loss. We have all done it, deleted a file that we just spent hours creating, spilled coffee on the keyboard, or dropped the laptop on the floor.

Take a few seconds to read the computer screen before you delete, save, or transmit files. In addition, users need to take reasonable precautions with respect to computer operations, maintenance, handling, and transportation. When placing liquids, and other food items on your desk, please be careful.

Unauthorized Changes to University Computers

Installing software and making changes to computer hardware, software, system configuration, and the like are prohibited, without Computer Services authorization. The University’s computer systems have been designed and documented to prevent loss of data, and provide an audit trail for correcting problems. Unauthorized changes to computer systems ultimately result in lost productivity. Such changes often require a computer technician to fix both the original problem, and the problem caused by the would-be computer technician. Poor documentation of the procedures performed, and the order in which they were completed further complicate unauthorized changes to computer systems.

The following are just a few examples of changes to computers that can result in operating problems:

  • Installation of commercial software, shareware, and free software. Some software requires an upgrade of computer hardware, the operating system, or both for the program to operate properly. Some programs are simply not written well, and can cause problems with the computer
  • Installation of some programs changes the computer’s system configuration, which can result in problems with your computer
  • Data used on home computers may become infected with a virus, and contaminate your computer and other University computers

To provide software uniformity and facilitate providing high quality service, , the ability of most users to install software will be limited. Faculty will have the ability to install test banks and other CD-ROM information that accompanies their textbooks. For any other software installations, faculty should contact Computer Services prior to installation to seek proper licensing and any special instructions.

After testing, Computer Services will provide new versions of necessary software such as Internet Explorer (I.E.), Firefox, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Real Player, Quick Time, etc as they are released.

When an update is available, Computer Services will cause an icon to appear on users desktops allowing the user to upgrade. Each application will be pre-configured to provide a uniform level of service and minimize the potential for conflicts with other software commonly run on University Computers. However, it is perfectly fine and recommended that you customize software applications such as Microsoft Word for your preferences, such as font choice, data file locations, etc. that are found in the Tools, Options menus.

A small number of users will retain the ability to install software. Authorized users need to upgrade software applications provided by the federal government on a regular basis and will retain the ability to do so.

When installing software, Computer Services confirms proper licensing. Using the Track-it database, Computer Services is monitoring software installed on all computers on the Augusta and Bangor campuses.

Purchases of Computer Software and Equipment

Purchases of computer software and equipment are prohibited without approval from Computer Services. All computer software and hardware purchases must be registered with the Computer Services department, meet pre-established quality requirements, and be compatible with other University computer software and equipment.

Computer Services has an established minimum hardware configuration. Contact Computer Services for advice in selecting and purchasing all hardware and software.

For each new computer an office purchases one swap will be allowed. The computer being “replaced” can be reassigned to someone else in the office if it meets the minimum hardware standard. Typically, the computer that has the least processing power should be retired. A computer that does not meet the minimum hardware configuration cannot be swapped.

It is the University’s policy to give away out-dated computer hardware. A rolling cart is filled with out-dated equipment and when it becomes full, it is rolled into the student computer lab in either Augusta or Bangor. Students are asked to take one unit only to allow others a chance to obtain equipment.

Reporting Policy Violations

Employees are required to report violations, or suspected violations, of computer policy. Activities that should immediately be reported to management include, but are not limited to:

  • Attempts to circumvent established computer security systems.
  • Use, or suspected use, of virus, trojan horse, hacker programs or any other intrusive program, including anonymous e-mailers.
  • Obtaining, or trying to obtain, another user’s password.
  • Using the computer to make harassing or defamatory comments or violate University harassment or discrimination policies.
  • Illegal activity of any kind.

Computer policy violations will be investigated by proper University personnel. Noncompliance with the University's employee computer policy may result in discipline up to, and including, termination. Employees who report violations or suspected violations of University policy will be protected from retaliation. Hackers, snoopers, password stealers, virus installers, data erasers, and anyone involved in such activity will be disciplined.

If you identify computer security vulnerability, you are required to report it immediately to your supervisor and your supervisor will determine the proper procedure to follow.

Cessation of Employment

All information on staff computers is considered University property. Deleting, altering, or sharing confidential, proprietary, or any other information upon termination requires Supervisor authorization. The computer you have been entrusted with must be returned with your password, identification code, and any other appropriate information necessary for the University to continue using the computer, and information, uninterrupted.

The following activity is prohibited upon or after termination, and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law:

  • Accessing University computers
  • Providing third parties, or anyone else, access to University computers
  • Taking computer files, data, programs, or computer equipment

Privacy

Monitoring Computer Communications and Systems

Many people think data stored on computers, transmission of data between individuals on dial-up modem lines, communications on the Internet, and e-mail are private. However, the University reserves the right, without prior notice, to access, disclose, use, or remove both business and personal computer communications and information, for legitimate business purposes.

Random audits to verify that University computers are clear of viruses, and used in accordance with University policy, may be performed. The University will investigate alleged violations of this policy and other misconduct. Computer systems and information are University property, and should be used principally for business purposes.

E-mail

Electronic Communications

E-mail is a wonderful tool. Used correctly, it can provide significant efficiencies, and improve the quality of the way we do business. It makes dissemination of information easy and cost-effective. Please take full advantage of E-mail. The same standards of decorum, respect, and professionalism that guide us in our face-to-face interactions apply to the use of e-mail.

Incidental or occasional use of e-mail for personal reasons is permitted. However, only University personnel are allowed access to the University e-mail system. The following e-mail activity is prohibited:

  • Accessing, or trying to access, another user’s e-mail account
  • Obtaining, or distributing, another user’s e-mail account
  • Using e-mail to harass, discriminate, or make defamatory comments
  • Transmitting University records within, or outside, the University without authorization
  • Advertising political activities which benefit one political candidate or party
  • Advertising purely commercial activities or events
  • Any activities which are inconsistent with the mission of the University
  • Any illegal activities

Employees are required to report inappropriate use of e-mail. Employees are asked to clean out their mailboxes on a regular basis and delete unnecessary email so the server and the backup can run more efficiently.

Dangers and Pitfalls of E-mail

Appropriate e-mail etiquette is essential to maintaining a productive and professional work environment. Comments that might be made at parties, in elevators, and on the telephone are now done via e-mail. However, e-mail does not disappear into thin air. Email can be widely, easily, and quickly disseminated. E-mail can be edited, forwarded, distributed, and filed for later use, possibly at the most inopportune time. If you would not put it in a memorandum on University letterhead, or would not want to see it on the front page of your local newspaper, do not say it with e-mail.

Forwarding Information

E-mail makes attaching files and forwarding data a snap. However, the damage from forwarding something to the wrong person may be serious. Please take a minute to think through the appropriateness of all the parties you are forwarding to. If you receive an e-mail (particularly e-mail with an attachment) and intend to forward it to others, consider the following:

  • Is any of the information unnecessary or inappropriate for any individual?
  • Would the author take exception to, or be embarrassed by, your forwarding the information? (A good rule of thumb is to copy the author.)
  • Could the information be received negatively?
  • Could the information be misunderstood?
  • Is the receiver likely to forward the information to individuals that should not have, or do not need, the information?
  • Do the attachments have viruses?
  • Is the information confidential for otherwise protected?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, do not forward the information. Edit it, or create a new file.