Policies and Procedures
The University has strict regulations about the use of computing facilities, which all users are required to accept before they are assigned a login name. They cover authorisation, copyright and defamation. Disciplinary procedures are in place to deal with breaches of these regulations. The regulations incorporate conditions for acceptable use of the national academic IT network, JANET.
- Regulation 31 governing the use of University Computing Facilities (from the University Calendar)
- University of Warwick Information Security Policy
- IT Services policies
- JANet (Joint Academic Network) Acceptable Use Policy
- JANet Security Policy
- Automatic scanning of WBS-supplied computers connected to the Warwick Network
- What happens to your email account when you leave
- Requests for access to email accounts of absent staff
- Email best practice
- Peer-to-peer file sharing software on WBS computers and network
- Skype usage policy at WBS
- Purchasing of additional computer equipment / software from teaching group budgets
- Registering non-WBS machines for network access (staff only)
- WBS policy on the purchase of additional computers from research allowance or similar (staff only)
- Requests for the Helpdesk to participate in student dissertations or similar
- Facilities for Staff and Associates of WBS (staff only)
- Support for High Performance Computing in Research Groups
- Use of Linux by research-active staff
- Requests to purchase old equipment
Automated scanning of computers
Please note that it is a requirement of our Internet provider (JANET) that we take all reasonable steps to ensure compliance with their Acceptable Use Policy. A copy of that, and other related documents, is available at...
All computers supplied by WBS, which may be connected to the Internet via Janet, are regularly scanned to ensure that they are correctly configured, are free of software which may open them to Internet attacks and not showing any anomalies that might signal a problem. All reported anomalies are investigated by ISSU Systems and Operations staff.
Any apparent breach of the JANET or University computing regulations by staff or students uncovered by this process will be investigated through the appropriate mechanism and may result in disciplinary action. Any suspected breach by staff will be reported to WBS HR. Any suspected breach by students will be reported to the relevant teaching group and may be treated as a major disciplinary offence.
Further details can be found in the 'Regulations governing the use of University Computing Facilities', available at ...
Peer-to-peer file sharing software
The downloading of copyright materials without the explicit consent of the copyright holder is strictly prohibited by both the university and our Internet Service Provider (JANET).
- University of Warwick: Regulations governing the use of University Computing Facilities - http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/gov/calendar/section2/regulations/computing/
- JANET Acceptable Use Policy - http://www.ja.net/services/publications/policy/aup.html
Peer-to-peer file sharing software is specialist software that allows users to share files. While it is possible to use such software to download legal files, in practice most of the files available are copies of copyrighted music and movies. The presence of such sharing software on any WBS computer, or connected to the WBS network, would pose a number of threats to the School and its staff raising both legal and security concerns.
To prevent the risk of any copyright contravention, even accidental, the installation of any peer-to-peer file sharing software is prohibited on any WBS computer or other computer connected to the WBS network.
Please note that Skype, although technically similar to a peer-to-peer file sharing program, is specifically excluded from this policy and will, in due course, be covered by a separate policy that aims to allow the business benefits to be gained while minimising the possible risks associated with its use.
Any user who believes their computer may have any such software installed must uninstall it immediately. Please contact the Helpdesk if you require assistance in doing this. Users of computers that currently appear to have such software installed will receive a separate, follow-up email.
Examples of programs that are banned are given below but the list is not intended to be exhaustive. If you are uncertain as to whether a piece of software is covered by this prohibition please contact the Helpdesk.
- Bear Share
- Direct Connect (sometimes called DC, or DC++)
- LimeWire (similar applications to this often refer to the Gnutella protocol)
Purchasing additional computer equipment
The central budget, under the control of WBS Solutions, provides a desktop system for each non-Academic member of staff in an officially-recognised, school-funded post. Where individuals require an enhanced machine or a laptop, the contribution from the central budget will be the cost of a standard desktop, with all extra cost having to be approved by the appropriate budget holder and met from their budget.
The central budget, under the control of WBS Solutions, provides a choice of a laptop or desktop system for each Academic member of staff in an officially-recognised, school-funded post. Where individuals require an enhanced machine, the contribution from the central budget will be the cost of a standard laptop, with all extra cost having to be approved by the appropriate budget holder and met from their budget.
Each group is provided with a centrally-funded high capacity black and white printer/photocopier for networked printing. Consummable costs are included in the contract. All further networked printing devices are funded by the relevant group, including the costs of consumables.
Under current arrangements, items additional to standard provision do not come from the central WBS Solutions budget but from discretionary parts of group budgets. Your group’s contact in the WBS Finance Office can provide advice regarding these budgetary components.
Typically items funded in this way might include:
- Personal printers
- Memory Sticks
- Digital cameras.
The central budget also covers central infrastructure - mainly servers and centrally funded software provision (Microsoft, Adobe, etc., but not specialised teaching or research software). The funding of teaching software has always been complex - there used to be a small central University-provided budget, but this was augmented by teaching programme budgets and teaching group budgets. Post the WBS financial independence, all central provision disappeared and this now has to be funded by negotiation between interested parties.
This may seem complex, but there is a rationale behind it. First, it allows devolvement of decision-making, allowing groups to set their own priorities in many areas, second it allows for a much more accurate decision-making process - people within groups are much more likely to be able to assess the relative merits of competing requests (especially as such requests, unconstrained, would test any budget limit). Some time ago, WBS Solutions did participate in an initiative, which would have seen some money set aside centrally for teaching software, with a bidding system encouraging strategic purchasing, but this was voted down by academics who felt it was too complicated and would be too constraining.
Staff are, of course, welcome to use our services to help with decision-making. Dene Statham, who does all the School IT purchasing, can give prices and advice about specific items. You should note that, in line with University purchasing policy, the School has a strong line on standardisation and there are also internal issues of support for procured IT items like printers, so all purchasing should be done through Dene.
Requests for access to email accounts of absent staff
A staff member has gone away on holiday. An important or urgent problem has occurred which requires access to their email account.
Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 all staff are required to take steps to manage their email during planned absences. This can be done by either arranging for someone else to check the account regularly or by the setting of an autoresponse directing the sender to another contact address within the university. Not responding to an FOI request within 20 days is against the law
During planned absences all staff are expected to take whatever actions are necessary to ensure the smooth continuation of business operations. Some staff allow trusted colleagues to check their account in their absence. Contact the Helpdesk to set this up.
All email sent and received by WBS email accounts is considered the property of WBS and ultimately the University of Warwick and can be accessed when university business demands.
In the event where access to the email account of an absent member of staff is required the following procedure must be followed:
Reasonable efforts must be made by the group to contact the account holder and seek an agreed means of access to the material.
In circumstance where such arrangements cannot be agreed, or are impractical, the Head of Group/Department (or person formally recognised as acting in this role) can request, with due regard for the importance and urgency of the situation, privileged access to the account.
Such a request must be emailed to the Helpdesk and include a brief description of the need. The Helpdesk Manager or Head of Information Services will then decide whether such access is merited and if so will organise the changing of the user’s email password. This will then be given to the Head of Group/Department to allow them, or person nominated by them, to access the account. Access time should be minimised as far as possible and limited to the stated need.
The email account holder will be aware of the access to the account by the fact that the password has changed. When requested, WBS Solutions will make available to the account holder the email requesting access to their account.
Requests to participate in dissertations or similar
Each year the Helpdesk receive a number of requests from students for our participation in their dissertations or similar (that is, the students wish to make the Helpdesk the subject of their dissertation). The ongoing growth of the school is leading to an increase in such requests and the Helpdesk is a pressured environment, often short-staffed, and a place where even 'quiet periods' are taken up with catch-up and outstanding projects.
As these requests can lead to a substantial amount of work and disruption to our operation, we will no longer be able to agree to such requests. On occasion we may have a genuine question / area of concern which could make an appropriate topic for a student dissertation. Should this happen the Helpdesk Manager shall contact appropriate groups with details.
Requests to purchase old equipment
Staff occasionally ask whether they can purchase old equipment, either when their WBS-provided device is to be replaced or when they are moving to another institution.
This question was considered in depth by the relevant teams within the university but the end result was that such purchases are not possible, even if they have been permitted on occasions in the past. This policy is described at the foot of https://warwick.ac.uk/services/its/servicessupport/disposals .
Skype Usage policy for Warwick Business School
This policy and the original policy draw heavily on the Skype Policies formulated by Loughborough University (http://www.lboro.ac.uk/computing/security/skype-policy.html ) and Durham University (http://www.dur.ac.uk/its/policy/documents/skype/ ) - this policy has been modified to reflect the subsequent update of those policies and our review of how Skype is used at WBS.
What is Skype?
Skype is a free telephony application that uses peer-to-peer (P2P) network protocols to allow users to make free internet-based phones calls to other Skype users. Skype is a specific exclusion from the WBS policy that prohibits all P2P software, see http://group.wbs.ac.uk/issu/policies/peertopeer .
How does it work?
Skype uses proprietary protocols that prevent a detailed understanding of how the software works. In general, however, calls made using the system are routed through other computers with Skype installed whenever this provides a clearer path than connecting directly from one client to the other.
Reasons for concern
If these intermediary computers are connected to a fast Internet feed, such as here at Warwick, there is a high risk that the computer will become a ‘Supernode’ that starts to route large amounts of Internet traffic (that is a lot of other people’s conversations, not just your own). This could have service implications not only for the local computer but the wider Warwick network. Additionally, due to the closed nature of the Skype protocols, there are concerns as to the security and privacy implications of the use of Skype. These concerns have led a number of large American universities to prohibit the use of Skype ( see for example http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060924-7814.html ).
Our Internet provider (JANET) provides the following clarification of the use of Skype across their networks:
"Section 11 of the Policy prohibits 'provid[ing] access to JANET for third parties without the prior agreement of JANET (UK)', but permits a limited amount of such use provided this is regulated by the customer organisation. Uncontrolled use of Skype, and particularly its bandwidth-hungry super-node behaviour, is likely to breach one or both of these sections."
Restrictions on the use of Skype at WBS
While understanding the above, ISSU recognise the potential benefits of Skype and therefore allow Skype to be installed on machines connected to the network at WBS provided the following conditions are met/understood:
- Skype is only permitted where there is a clear academic or business purpose. Users are advised to refrain from installing Skype if they don't actually need to use the capabilities that it offers - you may find that Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, WBSlive, or the chat facility in my.wbs meets your instant messenging and collaboration needs.
- Skype should always be installed using WBS Applications (on Windows XP) or Run Advertised Programs (on Windows 7) - this is particularly important on Windows XP as the latest version at the time of writing (Skype 4.2) doesn't actually work when logged in to the network.
Skype must be set to not load automatically on start up. If Skype is installed via WBS Applications this will be set automatically and must not be changed. Otherwise you can disable automatic starting by unchecking the box labelled “Start Skype when computer starts” on the Skype login dialogue.
Skype is only running whilst the user is at the computer to receive or make calls.
Should a computer on which Skype is installed use an excessive amount of bandwidth the user must remove the software immediately at our request and if the user is not available we will disconnect the computer from the network.
Should the JANET Acceptable Use Policy (A.U.P.) or the University of Warwick IT Services usage policies subsequently change to explicitly prohibit Skype then the user must remove the software immediately at our request.
- Skype must not be installed on any machines in the PG IT Suite. You should contact ISSU if you wish to use Skype on a lectern / teaching computer.
- ISSU offer no support in the use of Skype unless otherwise arranged.
- ISSU, the university, and JANET, offer no guarantees on quality of service for Skype network traffic.
- By installing the software, users are agreeing to the terms of the End-User Licence Agreement (EULA) for Skype . In particular they are aware that Article 4.1 allows Skype to utilize the local computer’s processor and bandwidth to facilitate communication between Skype users.
Support for High Performance Computing
This page specifically refers to the Finance Group, which has purchased a number of high performance desktop computers (T7500s) for researchers with computationally-intensive needs. Such solutions could be extended to other research groups however should they have similar needs.
Until Dec 08 ISSU support for the T7500s has been limited to hardware and asset management support. This was approved by both the Finance Group and ISSU. As the number of these machines increases however and they become a core part of the research activities of the Finance Group it would seem prudent to increase the level of support on offer within the resource limitations of ISSU. This reflects the request made by the Finance Group in their proposal paper.
Each new machine will be set up with a standard image created by ISSU before being delivered to the Finance Group. The user will have full administrator rights and be able to install any licensed software from DVD or similar. The user will be able to take 'snapshots' of the computer's configuration at any time. These images will be stored on an external hard disk that will be provided by ISSU. In the case of a software problem the user will be able to restore the computer back to the most recent snapshot. This saves the need to reinstall all required software following a reimage.
Contents of standard build
ISSU will prepare a standard build for the T7500. Each new machine will have this build applied before the computer is delivered to the Finance Group. The build will:
a) Partition the drive to C (100GB) and D (remaining space, approx 1TB)
b) Install Windows 7 64bit (Enterprise edition)
c) Include Microsoft Security Essentials antivirus and turn on Windows Updates
d) Include the ability to print to any Finance Group printers
e) Turn on Windows Action Centre for performance monitoring
f) Create an administrator account for the use of the Finance Group staff member
g) Create an administrator account for the use of ISSU staff
h) Include a copy of ShadowProtect Desktop Edition (see below)
The software preinstalled is deliberately kept to a minimum to allow for the maximum performance on these computation-focussed machines. The user has full administrator access to install any licensed software they require from DVD or similar.
'Snapshotting' of computer's configuration
Each computer will have a copy of ShadowProtect Desktop Edition installed ( http://www.storagecraft.com/products/ShadowProtectDesktop/ ). This allows a user-initiated process that copies an image of the computer's C drive to an external hard disk. The computer can rapidly be returned to this image if a problem subsequently occurs. Where no such image has been taken, or such images are not available, the computer will be reimaged back to its base configuration.
Please note the following:
- This process is not a data backup. It simply copies the C partition and allows the system configuration to be restored.
- Snapshots are not centrally backed up. Were the device on which they were stored to fail/be stolen, the level of support would be to reimage back to base configuration
ISSU's support will be limited to:
- Ordering, taking delivery of the machine and adding to the WBS inventory system
- Delivery to the user's office
- Registration of the computer so that it receives an unchanging IP address
- Maintaining information on software licences and lending associated media where allowed by licence agreements
- Reporting hardware faults to Dell and coordinating a fix while the machine is covered by a Dell warranty
- Maintaining the master image
- Assisting Finance Group staff in reimaging to base configuration if necessary
- Training Finance Group staff on the use of the ShadowProtect software for taking 'snapshots'
- Final disposal of the machine ensuring the secure removal of user data
It is a deliberate intention to allow Finance Group staff members to take and restore images without input being required from ISSU as this could present a bottle neck. Although ISSU may provide advice we will be unable to provide support for specialist software.
Finance Group's responsibilities
- installation of required specialist software
- to not interfere with the account created for ISSU administration
- to not interfere with the performance monitoring software. Tests have shown this to have no measurable impact on performance. The information gained should be of use to both ISSU and the Finance Group for the planning of future purchases. Aggregated data will be shared with the Finance Group if requested.
Use of alternative Operating Systems
For staff and students we provide a fully-supported computing environment using either 32 bit or 64 bit Windows 7. We appreciate however that for some researchers the Windows operating system is not suitable and Linux is a more appropriate choice.
In such cases, and with the prior agreement of WBS-Solutions, we allow research-active staff to run Linux on their WBS-supplied computer. Please note the following however:
- We will provide a static IP address for the machine
- We will remove any BIOS password
- We will not be able to provide any support for Linux. You must be confident that you can support your own operating system choice
- We will attempt to assist you in locating Linux versions of software for which we may have licences. Often however we will require you to discuss this directly with software suppliers as we may not have the detailed knowledge necessary to organise such licences
- It is your responsibility to ensure that you are compliant with any security setup required by the University of Warwick or our Internet Service Provider, JANET. Should there be any security problem with your computer it is likely to have its Internet connection disabled without warning.
What happens to your email account when you leave
The university's policy is that a staff member's email account will be disabled 8 weeks after their last working day as recorded in the central HR records system. Note that during this 8-week period access may be granted to other staff members to ensure no business emails are going unanswered.
Given the above, our strong recommendation, as included on our Email Best Practice guide, is that users create a separate private account for their personal email to prevent problems of other staff having access to their personal email or issues of contactibility once a staff members leaves. Organisations such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo or others will provide free web-based accounts that can be used for this purpose. Users should not attempt to install other email clients on their computers as this is likely to cause configuration problems.
What if I need the account to be kept open for longer than 8 weeks?
In exceptional circumstances the university may agree to keep an email account open for longer than the 8 week period described above. This may happen where there is a clear business need for this continued access and where the request has been approved by the Chief Operating Officer of WBS.
To request an account be kept open:
- Contact the Dean's Office ( firstname.lastname@example.org) with an explanation of the business need for an account to be kept open
- Assuming this is approved the person wishing the account to stay open should email the request to email@example.com including:
- The university number of the staff member who is leaving
- The date until which you are requesting the account be kept open
- A copy of the approval from the Dean's Office
- A explanation of the reason for the request
- If central HR are convinced of the case they will amend the HR records appropriately. This data then flows down into systems such as those managed by IT Services such that the account will stay open until the agreed date.
- The above does not automatically change the expiry date of a WBS account (used for logging into my.wbs etc and not related to email). These are typically closed at the beginning of the month following the last date of employment. Any request for these to be kept open should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.