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Responsible and Safe computing

It is important to take sensible precautions when using computers and storing data to reduce misuse and abuse of:

        • personal and sensitive information
        • money and
        • the reputation of ourselves, our families and the university.


It is mandatory that all staff and researchers complete our online Information Security Awareness course ​(requires log in to studentcentral).

Below we have listed just some of the things you need to be aware of and the actions you need to take when using computers.


 Are you storing personal or sensitive university data?


- you as an individual

- the university

- the people you are storing information about

  • Only store sensitive and confidential university data on the appropriate secure university systems, such as SITS, SID, MyDepartment, MyFiles. You can set permissions to restrict access to teams, or individuals. 
  • As stated in the university's IT Regulations, you should not store university data on unapproved cloud based systems such as DropBox, Google Docs, SurveyMonkey.
  • Do not send confidential or sensitive data to internal colleagues by email. This can lead to extra copies being stored on local hard disks and your email may be forwarded onto people that do not need access to that information. You should instead share through university systems as above.
  • If you are storing confidential or sensitive university data, including personal data or emails containing personal data, on your own laptop or computer you should encrypt your disk with either Device Encryption or Bitlocker for Windows or FileVault for Mac. This prevents someone from accessing the data in the event that your device is lost or stolen.
  • If you need to send data by email to external contacts,  it must be encrypted. See sharing documents securely with 7-zip  
  • Do not store sensitive and confidential university data on personal computers or portable devices such as USB keys, unless the data is encrypted or access is restricted. See sharing documents securely with 7-zip  

 Are you using a mobile device to access university systems and information?


mobilephone.pngDon't put your information, or the university's systems, at risk.

Make sure you read our security advice for mobile users.


 Don't be a victim - be aware of spam and phishing


​Phishing is the act of sending an email that appears to be coming from a reputable company or person, in order to trick people into giving away personal information such as passwords, credit card numbers and bank details.

​The university has recently been targeted by a high number of 'phishers' who are finding very sophisticated ways of convincing us that their fake messages are from people we can trust.

Please take a look at  spam and nuisance mail  guidance for staff or guidance for students to find out how to spot phishing scams and keep your data and university systems safe.


 Do you have up-to-date antivirus software on your laptop or desktop computer?


​The university strongly recommends that you use up-to-date antivirus software on your computer. New viruses are being written all the time that you need to be protected from.

If you are using your computer to connect to the university's network or systems, it is a condition of use that you ensure your anti-virus software is up-to-date.

We have a license agreement with Sophos, so if you don't already have up-to-date anti-virus softare you can download and install Sophos on your Mac or Windows computer for free.

The software is available here: ​

If you are worried that you might have a virus on your laptop, bring it along to one of our Computer First Aid clinics.


 Are you using a Firewall on your laptop/desktop computer?


​Computer firewalls can help to ensure that unauthorised people or computers can't access your computer over the network.

Computer firewalls check the information that is coming into your computer from the internet/network and either block it or allow it to pass on to your computer. You only need one firewall on your computer. If you have any more, they will conflict with each other!

Firewalls are normally available as part of the operating system, but is yours turned on?

To find out how to check your own personal computer see information for


 Is your password secure?


You will be held responsible for any activity that is carried out using your username and password so

  • don't tell anybody your password and take sensible steps to ensure it is secure.
  • See further information on choosing and changing passwords
  • Staff are responsible for ensuring that passwords and other access controls for Univesrity social media accounts are of adequate strength and kept secure.

 Is your operating system up-to-date?

​If you are connecting to a network it is essential that you keep your operating system up-to-date with the latest security patches installed.
If you don't, you risk allowing other people to access your data.
If you are using Windows see the Windows Update site for information on latest security patches and how to protect your computer.
If you have an Apple computer, set your computer to pick up latest updates as follows:
  1. From the Apple menu, select Software Update
  2. Apply everything that is offered, but the items including the words 'Security Update' are the most important.

 Is anyone watching you?

​In order to protect against threats when working away from your home, or your office, you should:
  • avoid using an internet café to access personal or confidential university information
  • be aware of your surroundings and anyone who may be watching your screen and keyboard
  • if you are using a Touchscreen in front of an audience, use a real keyboard to enter your password
  • use secure passcodes, passwords, and security settings (such as remote wiping of data in the event of loss) to reduce the potential impact of losing information on laptops, smartphones, and portable storage media.
  • make sure your equipment is secure when working from home and do not leave university information in view or where it is accessible by others.
  • see for more guidance

 More tips on protecting your data and university data

  • always sign out of computers and online social media accounts
  • make sure you know what measures are being taken to backup the data on the computers you are using
  • if you are backing up documents yourself, make sure you know how to restore them and test that your method works
  • think before you send email - double check you've got the right address and don't send sensitive information unless in accordance with university policy. One way to prevent messages going to the wrong people is to turn off auto complete which will prevent Outlook automatically filling in the address field when you start to type a person's name, or email address. See info from the University of Illinois
  • if you're sharing someone's personal data it must be done in accordance with the  General Data Protection Regulations. If you're not sure, don't share or send it and seek advice from the Data Protection Officer.
  • seek advice before disclosing other people's personal information

Remember - we all have a responsibility to

  • protect the university's information and systems
  • protect our own personal information and keep ourselves and our families safe online

 Security policies

Page owner: Jill Shacklock