What is an Acceptable Use Policy and What Should it Contain

Most businesses and website owners are familiar with an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) which is an agreement between two or more parties expressing one’s commitment to stick to written standards of behavior that state they must properly use specific software or hardware services.

To put it simply, an AUP is a set of rules created by an owner of a website, online service or computer infrastructure that aims to restrict unlawful or unauthorized use of their software or information assets. To reduce the risk of legal action, many corporations, ISPs, website owners and universities have set forth in creating their own AUP. Therefore, an AUP gives direction on what sort of behavior and use of the company or university’s technology is approved and frowned upon.

An AUP is an essential component of any business. They’re part of the framework of information security policies. They’re often handed to new employees to read and sign the document before they are handed access to servers. Because of this, AUPs must be concise and simple to read and understand, but also convey the importance of what users are and are not allowed to do on the company’s IT systems.

An AUP is very similar to a Terms of Service or an End-user License Agreement text that can be found on almost all software applications. There are a few differences in the documents, though. AUPs tend to cover a larger range of computer resources, like websites. They also cover etiquette and respect for other users.

Do I need an AUP for my business?

The short answer is yes. An AUP protects your business from any legal actions being directed at you. It’s better to have your employees see it upfront instead of backpedaling if something goes awry. One important thing to be mindful of when you begin to create your AUP is to not write rules so specifically that rule-breakers can find loopholes around the policy. You also want to be sure the policy isn’t too vague that it’s useless in the eyes of employees.

An AUP may also restrict your liability around the illegal sharing of files. If an employee of yours downloaded music, videos or any file illegally, your business could be liable for this. Even if the downloaded files are legal, you could be paying to back up items that are for personal use. From a time and money perspective, it’s worth it to layout all policies about storing downloaded files.

It might seem obvious as to which websites to specifically block, but you must consider this carefully as you don’t want to prevent your employees from doing their job. You want to create a happy work environment while keeping productivity high.

Work with your IT department to create an efficient AUP that displays unwanted behavior but can also be enforced. Once you have this, distribute the AUP, answer any questions and have all employees sign saying they understand.

So, what exactly do I put in my AUP?

The coverage and range of them vary drastically, as certain policies apply to different departments, systems, software or data. Here are a few things most businesses mention in their AUP:

Purpose. The reason they put the policy in place, from a business perspective.

Expectations. This is a place to add any general, overall expectations you have for your employees and their use of the internet at work.

Acceptable use. Explain here how employees are expected to use the internet.

Unacceptable use. Here, name any unacceptable uses of company internet. You can focus on the ban of any specific sites, or broad terms, like social media. You can also name any prohibited behaviors, such as downloading illegal files.

Confidentiality and disclosure. Any sort of business policies you have that revolve around confidentiality and disclosure can be added here.

Use of Network. Place information regarding user accounts, general accounts, and the limitations of the network.

Enforcement. The last of the AUP, this part details when and how the company will monitor the use of network and how violators will be punished.

As stated earlier, enforcement is crucial to ensuring all employees follow the policies in the AUP. Employees should know you continuously monitor the network to make sure all rules are being followed. You may already even have monitoring software included in your small business devices. If you don’t, they’re simple to come by and install.

The idea of an AUP is to protect you and your business. By explaining to employees what they can and cannot do with company equipment and software. There isn’t one, general AUP that will work for all businesses, schools, and universities, so it’s important that you take the time and resources to create one that will benefit and pertain to your business specifically. You’ll need to not only look at your organization and take the ideas above and customize them to your business, but you’ll need to enforce the policies. Otherwise, employees will take advantage of your relaxed attitude.

 

Consider changing your AUP as your business continues to grow. Review your policy regularly to make sure all rules still apply.

Top Cyber Security Tips to Protect Your Business

Now more than ever, cyber security is an important measure that every small or big business should take. Threats are everywhere and have the potential to jeopardize your entire business. Without knowing much about the types of security risks against you, you can still take the necessary precautions to protect yourself from the unknown. It also might help to hire a consultant to review your practices.

The following are the top cyber security tips for protecting your business’s infrastructure:

Educate Employees

If you take any precaution at all against cyber threats, it should be to educate all of your employees. Many say that employees are actually one of the biggest security risks to businesses. If your team isn’t well-read on how to use their technology securely, then there’s no point in upkeeping everything because it’s bound to be corrupted at some point. To combat this, start by teaching your employees about how to adhere to your security policies. By briefing your team members on at least the basics of cybersecurity, they’ll beware of the common mistakes that lead to leaks and break-ins.

Backup Essential Documents and Information

In addition to teaching employees, you need to also instruct them to backup their files. If a security breach were to occur, every device could be protected from wiping if files and essential information is copied onto a shared network or hard drive. This is often taken for granted, but it’s something users and especially businesses should listen to.

Secure Your Network

How can you protect your networks if you’re not an IT whiz? You can start by implementing a firewall and starting the encryption process. Also, hide your WiFi by restricting the broadcast of your network name. It seems simple, but putting in complex passwords is important. Make sure your router and WiFi are password-protected so only verified individuals can access them.

Protect Mobile Devices

In the modern age, a lot of business is being conducted through mobile devices. The devices your employees and clients use should not be easy for a cybercriminal to crack. If you administer work devices, guarantee that they always have passwords to unlock them and install security applications to monitor and track any vulnerabilities. Many businessowners disregard the prevalence of threats from mobile, but this is a growing concern that you should address straight away.

Need help defending your business from cyber security issues? Get in touch with one of DataOne’s specialists and consultants prior to securing your system.

What Is Data Migration?

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If you own a business, at some point and time you will hear the words ‘Data Migration’. But what exactly is data migration and do you really need it? First, let’s start with what is data. In your business, data is all the information that is needed to run your business. Information about your employees, your clients, your vendors, your inventory, your business rules, and any other details that are required to keep the business operating. I think you can see now that data in your business is not only vital but there can also be a lot of it.

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17 Of The Most Common Collaboration Tools For Businesses

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There are so many moving parts in a business and keeping your team on the same page and collaborating is one of the most important. So it stands to reason it is a part of your business that demands tools that can and will encourage collaboration and communication. In this article we outline 17 of the most common collaboration tools to help your business and its team members openly communicate and collaborate to get projects done easily and on time. Many of these tools are free for personal or small team usage and have plans for larger teams.

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