Computer Use Guidelines

Revised September 1, 2007

Purpose

The purpose of these guidelines is to outline the acceptable uses of computing and technology resources for the Harford Community College (HCC) community. These guidelines outline the standards for acceptable use of the College’s computing and technology systems (collectively, the “Systems”) that include, but are not limited to, equipment, software, networks, data, copy/print equipment, Internet, Intranet, electronic mail, voice mail and telecommunications equipment whether owned, leased, or otherwise provided by HCC. These guidelines are intended to reflect the College’s commitment to the principles, goals, and ideals described in the HCC vision statement and to its core values.

Exceptions to these guidelines can only be authorized by the Vice President for Information Technology or the College President.


Access to Computer Resources

Harford Community College provides computing and networking resources to the campus community of students, faculty, staff, and the public to support its educational mission. Computers, networks, and the Systems can provide access to resources on and off campus, as well as the ability to communicate with other users worldwide. Such open access is a privilege, and requires that individual users act responsibly. Users must respect the rights of other users, respect the integrity of the Systems and related physical resources, and observe all relevant HCC policies or any requirements that may be approved by the Board of Trustees. Computing and networking resources must always be used in compliance with all international, federal, state, and local laws and regulations.

The College expects all computer users to understand and abide by these user obligations when using the computer equipment and resources.


Information Security

Everyone using Harford Community College’s Systems is responsible for protecting information transmitted, used and/or stored on/in HCC’s Systems. 

  • Use Systems only with proper authorization.
  • Neither endanger the security of the College’s Systems nor willfully interfere with others’ authorized Systems use.
  • Provide reasonable security to one’s passwords and respect the privacy and security of others’ passwords. Users may be held accountable for content and work performed with their user ID and password.

If it is suspected that a password has been compromised, it should be changed immediately. Users are also prohibited from attempts to alter their identity, either using another’s password, or to establish a false identity.

  • Protect confidential and proprietary information, as provided for by law. To every extent possible, student and employee social security numbers will not be kept on desktop or laptop computers, or transmitted via e-mail.

This is especially important for laptop users and employees who work at home.


Guidelines and Responsibilities

In general, the HCC community may use the College’s Systems (including authorized personally owned computers or devices connected to the HCC network) in connection with the College’s core teaching, research, and service missions. Under no circumstances may members of the HCC community use the College’s Systems in ways that are unethical or illegal, that threaten the College’s status, or that interfere with reasonable use by other members of the HCC community. Any use of the College’s Systems for pornographic, offensive, harassing or commercial purposes (including private/ personally owned businesses) is strictly forbidden.

The following examples, though not covering every situation, are also prohibited: 

  • Use College's network resources to gain or attempt to gain unauthorized access to remote computers.
  • Attempt to circumvent data protection schemes or uncover security loopholes.
  • Monitor another user's data communications.
  • Read, copy, change, or delete another user's files or software without permission of the owner.
  • Share or loan an account to any individual not assigned to it. All user accounts, including logon, e-mail access, and network storage are for use by the individual or individuals assigned.
  • Acquire, reproduce, distribute or share unauthorized copies of copyright materials (including peer-to-peer file sharing). Penalties for violation of copyright laws include fines and/or criminal prosecution.
  • Intentionally make changes to software or hardware, which damages or disrupts a computing system, alters its normal performance, or causes it to malfunction.
  • Harass or threaten others by sending annoying, threatening, libelous, or sexually, racially, or religiously offensive e-mail messages.
  • Knowingly tamper with, obstruct, or impair the availability of HCC resources, or attempt to do so.
  • Knowingly send a crippling number of files across the network; introduce damaging, self-propagating, or otherwise harmful software into a machine or a network.
  • Knowingly hoard computer, network, or print resources in an attempt to deliberately degrade performance or deny service to others in the campus community.
  • Install unauthorized or unlicensed software.
  • Attempt to circumvent or interfere with established network security.
  • Run unauthorized password cracking or virus generating programs on HCC computing systems. 
  • Physically attach any personally owned computer equipment to any device on the campus networks without the specific authorization of the Vice President for Information Technology. This excludes laptop/tablet computers, PDA’s, and USB/Firewire storage devices whose use has already been authorized by the Vice President for Information Technology so long as they are being used in accordance with these guidelines.

Privacy and Security

There is no inherent right to privacy for information stored on HCC Systems , except as provided by the Privacy Act of 1974. All components and all communications and information stored in, transmitted from, received by or contained within the Systems are the property of the College. Federal law permits system administrator access to stored electronic communications if that access is necessary for the rendition of service. Random monitoring of electronic communications by HCC is generally not conducted unless required to do so by law or at the request of the College President, who in his/her sole discretion suspects violations of the requirements of these guidelines. The College does reserve the right to investigate unusual or suspicious activities that relate to Systems when becoming aware of such activities. These investigations could include monitoring desktops, software programs, individual files, etc. to ensure that resources are being used appropriately, and to ensure that inappropriate personal use, illegal or unethical behavior, or other activities that could jeopardize the ability to provide resources to the College community are not occurring.


Sanctions for Violations

Failure to comply with the appropriate use of the College’s Systems threatens the atmosphere for the sharing of information, the free exchange of ideas, the secure environment for creating and maintaining information. Failure to comply with the requirements of these guidelines subjects one to disciplinary action. Any member of the HCC community found using computing and technology resources for unethical or unacceptable practices has violated these guidelines and is subject to disciplinary proceedings up to and including suspension of system privileges, expulsion from school, termination of employment and/or legal action as may be appropriate (students are also subject to information in the Student Code).

HCC reserves the right to limit or restrict the use of its Systems based on institutional priorities and financial considerations, as well as when it is presented with evidence of a violation of College policies, contractual agreements, or state and federal laws and regulations.


Continuous Renewal

These guidelines shall be assessed three years from their effective date to determine appropriateness and applicability. The guidelines may be assessed before that time to reflect significant changes to the Systems and/or changes in legal statutes that impact technology resources, copyright, or other intellectual property issues.

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