Knowledgebase:
IT Guide for Working from Home
Posted by Jo-Ann Guilmett, Last modified by Melinda Barnsley on 13 October 2017 01:37 PM

Introduction

There are a variety of reasons that might necessitate having university employee work from an off-campus location using a non-university computer.  University owned computers are configured, by ITS, to provide a standard level of security for the data stored on them (hard drive encryption, anti-virus/antimalware, and patched/updated); however, PSU ITS cannot make the same level of assurance for personally owned machines.    As a result, anyone using a personally owned machine to perform university work must take reasonable precautions to prevent accidental data loss.

By following the basic steps and practices listed on this page, performing work from off-campus will not only be easy, but will also keep university data and property secure.

The most important thing to remember about working from off-campus is that if you are working with sensitive data: (i.e. financial records, student data, SSNs, etc) that data needs to be protected in the same way that university property would be protected. For example, if you were driving a university vehicle, you wouldn't just leave the keys in the car in the middle of a parking lot and walk away nor would you leave your university issued laptop, unattended on a park bench.    Since PSU has legal obligations to protect many elements of the data, you should protect university data at a higher level than you might protect your own.

 

The VPN (Virtual Private Network):

This is a tool that allows you to create a secure connection back to campus from anywhere in the world.  It is free, easy to use, and easy to install.

When you are off campus, using the VPN provides two important benefits. First, the connection is secure and encrypted. That means that no one can intercept and read the information you are accessing or sending. The second benefit is that some university resources like department file-shares, library journals, and certain web sites only are available to people on campus. The VPN provides a way of allowing access to these resources from off-campus.

 

USB Drives:

Some people transport their work from campus to their home by storing documents on USB drives. An unprotected USB drive is a major risk if it contains university data. The solution to this problem is encrypting the USB drive so that if it is lost, no one can read the information stored on the drive without the encryption password.

By following these steps, you'll be able to properly protect university data when you are working off-campus:

 

University Provided Laptop

  • Where possible and practical, use a university issued laptop.
  • If you do bring a University owned laptop home, you should NOT let family or friends use that laptop for security reasons.
  • USNH policy forbids the use of University resources for non-University business.
  • Use the VPN

 

Personal computer:

If your department does not provide you access to a laptop, you will need secure your personal computer.  In cases where it is absolutely necessary to use a personal computer, it is vital to take these precautions: 

  • Install, update and run an approved antivirus software package.
  • Make certain your system is configured to automatically download and install all software updates.
  • Make sure all available software updates have been installed.
  • Make sure the firewall is turned on.
  • Install and use the university VPN. Visit: https://vpn.plymouth.edu
  • Do NOT download and store any sensitive data on the local computer. If in doubt, keep activities limited to those you can complete using a web browser.
  • If, for any reason, you download a copy of any university data locally, REMOVE all copies of that information when done (REMEMBER to empty the trash).
  • Use an encrypted USB drive.

 

* Make sure you are familiar with the applicable ITS policies: Acceptable Use of Computing Resources, Sensitive and Confidential Information Policy, User Credentials Policy (https://www.plymouth.edu/office/information-technology/about/policy/)

 

 

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