Acceptable Use Policy
Though there are a number of reasons to provide a user network access, by far the most common is granting access to employees for performance of their job functions. This access carries certain responsibilities and obligations as to what constitutes acceptable use of the company network. This policy explains how company information technology resources are to be used and specifies what actions are prohibited. While this policy is as complete as possible, no policy can cover every situation, and thus the user is asked additionally to use common sense when using company resources. Questions on what constitutes acceptable use should be directed to the user's supervisor.
Since inappropriate use of company systems exposes the company to risk, it is important to specify exactly what is permitted and what is prohibited. The purpose of this policy is to detail the acceptable use of company information technology resources for the protection of all parties involved.
The scope of this policy includes any and all use of company IT resources, including but not limited to, computer systems, email, the network, and the company Internet connection.
Personal usage of company email systems is permitted as long as A) such usage does not negatively impact the company computer network, and B) such usage does not negatively impact the user's job performance.
The following is never permitted: spamming, harassment, communicating threats, solicitations, chain letters, or pyramid schemes. This list is not exhaustive, but is included to provide a frame of reference for types of activities that are prohibited.
The user is prohibited from forging email header information or attempting to impersonate another person.
Email is an insecure method of communication, and thus information that is considered confidential or proprietary to the company may not be sent via email, regardless of the recipient, without proper encryption.
Users shall not open email attachments from unknown senders, or when such attachments are unexpected.
Email systems were not designed to transfer large files and as such emails should not contain attachments of excessive file size.
Please note that detailed information about the use of email may be covered in the company's Email Policy.
Confidential data must not be A) shared or disclosed in any manner to non-employees of the company, B) should not be posted on the Internet or any publicly accessible systems, and C) should not be transferred in any insecure manner. Please note that this is only a brief overview of how to handle confidential information, and that other policies may refer to the proper use of this information in more detail.
The user should take reasonable efforts to avoid accessing network data, files, and information that are not directly related to his or her job function. Existence of access capabilities does not imply permission to use this access.
The following actions shall constitute unacceptable use of the company network. This list is not exhaustive, but is included to provide a frame of reference for types of activities that are deemed unacceptable. The user may not use the company network and/or systems to:
Engage in activity that is illegal under local, state, federal, or international law.
Engage in any activities that may cause embarrassment, loss of reputation, or other harm to the company.
Disseminate defamatory, discriminatory, vilifying, sexist, racist, abusive, rude, annoying, insulting, threatening, obscene or otherwise inappropriate messages or media.
Engage in activities that cause an invasion of privacy.
Engage in activities that cause disruption to the workplace environment or create a hostile workplace.
Make fraudulent offers for products or services.
Perform any of the following: port scanning, security scanning, network sniffing, keystroke logging, or other IT information gathering techniques when not part of employee's job function.
Install or distribute unlicensed or "pirated" software.
Reveal personal or network passwords to others, including family, friends, or other members of the household when working from home or remote locations.
Blogging and Social Networking
Blogging and social networking by the company's employees are subject to the terms of this policy, whether performed from the company network or from personal systems. Blogging and social networking is never allowed from the company computer network. In no blog or website, including blogs or sites published from personal or public systems, shall the company be identified, company business matters discussed, or material detrimental to the company published. The user must not identify himself or herself as an employee of the company in a blog or on a social networking site. The user assumes all risks associated with blogging and/or social networking.
Instant Messaging is permitted solely at the direction and with the approval of company management. The user should recognize that Instant Messaging may be an insecure medium and shall not disclose confidential, protected or sensitive information over an instant message platform at any time.
Actions detrimental to the computer network or other company resources, or that negatively affect job performance are not permitted.
The Internet is a network of interconnected computers of which the company has very little control. The user should recognize this when using the Internet, and understand that it is a public domain and he or she can come into contact with information, even inadvertently, that he or she may find offensive, sexually explicit, or inappropriate. The user must use the Internet at his or her own risk. The company is specifically not responsible for any information that the user views, reads, or downloads from the Internet.
Personal Use. The company recognizes that the Internet can be a tool that is useful for both personal and professional purposes. Personal usage of company computer systems to access the Internet is permitted as long as such usage follows pertinent guidelines elsewhere in this document and does not have a detrimental effect on the company or on the user's job performance.
The company's computer systems and networks must not be used to download, upload, or otherwise handle illegal and/or unauthorized copyrighted content. Any of the following activities constitute violations of acceptable use policy, if done without permission of the copyright owner: A) copying and sharing images, music, movies, or other copyrighted material using P2P file sharing or unlicensed CD's and DVD's; B) posting or plagiarizing copyrighted material; and C) downloading copyrighted files which employee has not already legally procured. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, copyright law applies to a wide variety of works and applies to much more than is listed above.
Peer-to-Peer File Sharing
Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networking is not allowed on the company network under any circumstance.
Streaming media can use a great deal of network resources and thus must be used carefully. Streaming media is allowed for job-related functions only.
Monitoring and Privacy
Users should expect no privacy when using the company network or company resources. Such use may include but is not limited to: transmission and storage of files, data, and messages. The company reserves the right to monitor any and all use of the computer network. To ensure compliance with company policies this may include the interception and review of any emails, or other messages sent or received, inspection of data stored on personal file directories, hard disks, and removable media.
Excessive use of company bandwidth or other computer resources is not permitted. Large file downloads or other bandwidth-intensive tasks that may degrade network capacity or performance must be performed during times of low company-wide usage.
Personal usage of company computer systems is permitted as long as such usage follows pertinent guidelines elsewhere in this document and does not have a detrimental effect on the company or on the user's job performance.
Remote Desktop Access
Use of remote desktop software and/or services is allowable as long as it is provided by the company. Remote access to the network must conform to the company's Remote Access Policy.
Circumvention of Security
Using company-owned or company-provided computer systems to circumvent any security systems, authentication systems, user-based systems, or escalating privileges is expressly prohibited. Knowingly taking any actions to bypass or circumvent security is expressly prohibited.
Use for Illegal Activities
No company-owned or company-provided computer systems may be knowingly used for activities that are considered illegal under local, state, federal, or international law. Such actions may include, but are not limited to, the following:
Unauthorized Port Scanning
Unauthorized Network Hacking
Unauthorized Packet Sniffing
Unauthorized Packet Spoofing
Unauthorized Denial of Service
Unauthorized Wireless Hacking
Any act that may be considered an attempt to gain unauthorized access to or escalate privileges on a computer or other electronic system
Acts of Terrorism
Downloading, storing, or distributing violent, perverse, obscene, lewd, or offensive material as deemed by applicable statutes
Downloading, storing, or distributing copyrighted material
The company will take all necessary steps to report and prosecute any violations of this policy.
Non-company-provided equipment is expressly prohibited on the company's network.
Personal Storage Media
The company does not restrict the use personal storage media, which includes but is not limited to: USB or flash drives, external hard drives, personal music/media players, and CD/DVD writers, on the company network provided that guidelines for data confidentiality are followed. The user must take reasonable precautions to ensure viruses, Trojans, worms, malware, spyware, and other undesirable security risks are not introduced onto the company network. Use of personal storage media must conform to the company's Mobile Device Policy.
Installation of any software not provided or sanctioned by the company onto company-owned computers and devices is prohibited. Numerous security threats can masquerade as innocuous software - malware, spyware, and Trojans can all be installed inadvertently through games or other programs. Alternatively, software can cause conflicts or have a negative impact on system performance.
Reporting of Security Incident
If a security incident or breach of any security policies is discovered or suspected, the user must immediately notify his or her supervisor and/or follow any applicable guidelines as detailed in the company Incident Response Policy. Examples of incidents that require notification include:
Suspected compromise of login credentials (username, password, etc.).
Suspected virus/malware/Trojan infection.
Loss or theft of any device that contains company information.
Loss or theft of ID badge or keycard.
Any attempt by any person to obtain a user's password over the telephone or by email.
Any other suspicious event that may impact the company's information security.
Users must treat a suspected security incident as confidential information, and report the incident only to his or her supervisor. Users must not withhold information relating to a security incident or interfere with an investigation.
Applicability of Other Policies
This document is part of the company's cohesive set of security policies. Other policies may apply to the topics covered in this document and as such the applicable policies should be reviewed as needed.
This policy will be enforced by the IT Manager and/or Executive Team. Violations may result in disciplinary action, which may include suspension, restriction of access, or more severe penalties up to and including termination of employment. Where illegal activities or theft of company property (physical or intellectual) are suspected, the company may report such activities to the applicable authorities.
Blogging The process of writing or updating a "blog," which is an online, user-created journal (short for "web log").
Instant Messaging A text-based computer application that allows two or more Internet-connected users to "chat" in real time.
Peer-to-Peer (P2P) File Sharing A distributed network of users who share files by directly connecting to the users' computers over the Internet rather than through a central server.
Remote Desktop Access Remote control software that allows users to connect to, interact with, and control a computer over the Internet just as if they were sitting in front of that computer.
Streaming Media Information, typically audio and/or video, that can be heard or viewed as it is being delivered, which allows the user to start playing a clip before the entire download has completed.