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Best Practice In Electronic Information Security
Guidance For Desktop Users

These notes provide guidance to desktop users in the University on how best to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of electronic information on the University’s computers and data networks.

  1. Read the University’s Electronic Information Security Policy, and the Electronic Data Backup Policy. Note that certain parts of the Security Policy apply to computers (whether owned by the University or not) that you may have at home, if these are connected to the University's data network (usually via a modem of some kind).

  2. Keep computers physically secure — lock unattended offices when necessary.

  3. When you are viewing confidential information, be aware of whether others can easily view your computer screen.

  4. Set a screen-saver with a password on your PC, with an interval of five to ten minutes.

  5. Do not leave machines logged on to administrative systems for long periods when inactive.

  6. Keep your password(s) safe — do not share them with others, and do not write them down, except in some coded form known only to you. Change your password(s) regularly.

  7. Do not use your Essex password or username for external internet sites that allow you to choose a username and password to log in to them.

  8. If a systems offers to ‘remember’ a username and password for you, say ‘no’.

  9. Do not use Windows file sharing to share data on your hard drive. On a Windows machine, if you do not need to give others access to shared printing on your PC, then ensure that file and print sharing are disabled.

  10. Make sure your machine is running ISS-recommended virus protection software. 

  11. Do not install or run any software (including scripts or macros) unless you trust the source, and always check software for viruses first.

  12. Do not run server software (for example web server software) on your desktop machine. 

  13. Set programs such as web browsers and e-mail clients to prompt you before running any programs or scripts.

  14. Back up important data regularly, or save them on a file space that is backed up (such as your M-drive/home directory). Store safely any backup disks or tapes you make yourself.

  15. Take special care with confidential information held online. Particularly sensitive information should not be kept on M-drives/home directories, and email should be used with caution.

  16. Do not retain sensitive information for longer than necessary.

  17. Do not connect any systems or other networks, either directly or indirectly) to the University data network without checking with ISS that it is safe to do so. Do not dial out to another network (ISP) from a desktop machine while it is still connected to the University's data network.

  18. Do not set-up modems to receive incoming connections.

  19. Power off your desktop machine at night.

If in doubt... ask ISS.

ISS , 15.10.02


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Document last modified by an unknown useron 13 January 2010.