University of Southern Indiana

Data Communication & Computer Use


The Information Technology Department provides computer access and capabilities for the University. The University relies heavily on various systems to meet educational, operational, and informational needs.  It is essential that USI's computers, computer systems, computer networks, and the data they store and process be operated and maintained in a secure environment and in a responsible manner. These systems and computers must be protected from misuse and unauthorized access.

This policy applies to all University computer users and systems and refers to all hardware, data, software, and communication networks associated with these computers.  In particular, this policy covers computers ranging from multi‑user network to single‑user personal computers, whether stand‑alone or attached to the network.

In addition to this computer policy, users of these computer systems are subject to applicable state and federal laws as well as the rules and regulations of the University.  Indiana’s requirements are provided in the link to Indiana code.

Computing resources are valuable and their abuse can have a far‑reaching negative impact.  Computer abuse affects everyone who uses computing facilities.  The same moral and ethical behavior that applies in the non‑computing environment applies in the computing environment.

The University will ensure that all users are aware of the policy by publishing it on the web and by making copies available at the Information Technology Help Desk.

Definition of Terms

A computer system includes any type of micro-computer (stand-alone or networked), PDA, workstation or mini-computer used on this campus or accessible by networks, wireless, or dial-up connections at other locations.

Computer networks include any local or wide-area communication system connecting computer systems as defined above.

The network backbone consists of the primary communications media which connects small networks, micro-computers and workstations, to other devices.

Local area networking media may consist of fiber, copper wire, wireless, or any data device used to connect micro-computers, or other devices to the network interface equipment.

Computer users are defined as students, faculty, staff, administrators, retirees, and recognized organizations.

Computer Use Guidelines

Users are to have valid passwords for the network, email, or applications’ software.  It is the responsibility of all users to safeguard their passwords. Passwords should be changed often to ensure security. For more password recommendations and tips for safe computing click here.

All University laptop/portable computers must be configured to require secure logons for access.  Blank passwords, passwords equal to username, etc. are not acceptable.

Employees must log off of their computer, or lock the screen with a password protected screen saver, when the employee will be away from their computer for any extended amount of time.

Users may not change copy, delete, read, or otherwise access files or software without permission of the owner of the files or the Executive Director of Information Technology.  Users may not bypass accounting or security mechanisms to circumvent data protection schemes. Users may not attempt to modify software except when intended to be user customized (i.e., user’s data files).

Users must not use the computer systems to violate any rules in the University Handbook, University Code of Conduct, and any local, state, or federal law.

A user shall disclose to the appropriate authorities, misuses of computing resources or potential loopholes in computer systems security, and cooperate with the director of Information Technology in the investigation of abuses.

The University reserves the right to examine network data traffic, files, programs, email,passwords, accounting information, printouts, or other computing material without notice.

The University reserves the right to limit bandwidth on a per connection basis, monitor traffic, and log communications to ensure proper usage of network resources.

The University reserves the right to charge fees for data communications access, data, and networked applications.

Alumni – Graduating students will be able to retain their MyUSI email accounts.

Unacceptable Activities

  1. Attempting to access another user’s computer files without permission.
  2. Supplying or attempting to supply false or misleading information or identification in order to access another user’s account.
  3. Deliberate, unauthorized attempts to access or use University computers, computer facilities systems, programs, or data.
  4. The unauthorized capturing of computer network data directly from the network backbone or local area networking media, including wireless transmissions.
  5. Attempting unauthorized access to computers outside the University using the University’s computers or communication facilities.
  6. Intentionally sending either e-mail or a program that replicates itself (i.e., a virus or worm) or damages another user’s account, computer, or operating system.
  7. Recreational game-playing and/or audio/video file sharing that interferes with instructional or work-related use of university-owned computers.
  8. Using computer accounts for work not authorized for that account.
  9. Sending chain letters or unauthorized mass mailings.
  10. Using the computer for commercial purposes, other than “classified ad” types of use.  (As a rule of thumb, if a classified ad would be appropriate for printing in USI Today, then it is acceptable content for a personal web page.)
  11. Using the computer for illegal purposes.
  12. Sending or leaving abusive, obscene messages or content via computer.
  13. Harassing other users by the sending unwanted messages or files.
  14. Mass emailing for selling, soliciting, or spamming other users.
  15. Running unauthorized servers or daemons, i.e., sendmail, named, DHCP, etc., on the network.
  16. Denying service through any action.
  17. Running any unauthorized data packet collection program on the network. 
  18. Attaching any devices to the network without prior approval from Information Technology is forbidden.
  19. Unreasonably slowing down the system through the excessive use of bandwidth; deliberately running wasteful jobs, playing games,  downloading non-work related video and audio files; running file sharing programs like KaAzA, Gnutella, and others; or engaging in other non-productive or idle network traffic.
  20. Consuming gratuitously large amounts of system resources (network bandwidth, disk space, CPU time, printer queues, and supplies.)

Acceptable Personal Use

The University of Southern Indiana encourages computer technology literacy for its students, faculty and staff, alumni, and retirees.  As such, the University of Southern Indiana allows its electronic mail system and web server(s) to be used by students, faculty, staff, and retirees for reasonable and limited personal use.  For example, occasionally sending electronic mail to family and friends is allowed, as is the hosting of a personal web site.  In all cases, “Personal Use” must conform to the guidelines established elsewhere in this document and must not interfere with the normal operation of the network.

The University home page will not link directly to personal web pages.  Faculty, staff, or student personal web pages must follow the guidelines in this policy.  The following statement must appear on all pages from which links occur to personal pages:  “The views and opinions expressed in the following pages are strictly those of the page authors.  The contents of these pages have not been approved by The University of Southern Indiana.”

In order to avoid jeopardizing the University’s tax-exempt status, computer facilities and services may not be used for personal financial gain or in connection with political activities, without prior written approval in each instance.  Contact the Vice President for Business Affairs for detailed information.

Copyright Issues

The University owns licenses or leases to a number of proprietary programs.  Users who redistribute software from the computing systems break agreements with software suppliers and violate applicable federal copyright, patent, and trade secret laws. Therefore, the redistribution of any software from computing systems is strictly prohibited except in the case of software that is clearly marked as being in the public domain.  Leased software may be made available to faculty and staff, retirees, and administrators for work related purposes. Copying movies, video games, music, and other copyrighted material without authorization is not an acceptable use of network resources.

General Terms and Disclaimers of Liability

Responsibility for all information transmitted via the networks at USI lies with the user or the information provider.

USI or Information Technology Department make any warranty, expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy or fitness for any purpose of any information distributed by the network.  Such warranties may or may not be expressed by information providers.  Programs provided for use on the network have been tested for proper network functionality; however, the Information Technology Department cannot guarantee their suitability for any specific user's purposes.

Enforcement and Penalties

Abuse or misuse of computing resources may not only be a violation of this policy but may also violate criminal statutes.  Therefore, the University will take appropriate action in response to user abuse or misuse of computing services.  The University may refer enforcement issues to the appropriate Dean, administrator, or the Computer Advisory Committee.

When instances of improper use are identified, the University will investigate and may take action to prevent further occurrence.

During an investigation, the University reserves the right to copy and examine any files or information resident on University systems allegedly related to the improper use, including the contents of electronic mailboxes.  Investigations that discover improper use may cause the University to:

  1. Limit the access of those found using facilities or services improperly.
  2. Disclose information found during the investigation to other university offices and authorities, and to civil and law enforcement authorities.
  3. Begin disciplinary actions as prescribed by University policies and procedures.
  4. Install automatic measures to limit proper use.
  5. Require reimbursement for resources consumed or damaged.
  6. Take other legal action including recovery of damages.

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