Acceptable Use Policy

Purpose

To specify the acceptable use of Northern Illinois University (NIU) information, computing, and communication resources by all users. These services, known collectively as the NIU Network (NIU-N), are part of the campus infrastructure.

This policy addresses issues specific to NIU-N usage and articulates policies regarding users of NIU-N.

Overview

NIU provides NIU-N resources and facilities to its staff, students, faculty, and associates to support the University's educational, research, and service missions as well as the administration and operation of the University.

Other university and campus policies that address specific activities and behaviors, some of which are cited later in this policy, also apply to NIU-N use.

Scope

  • All users of NIU-N Resources.
  • All users who are conducting NIU business using external networks.

Underlying Principles

  • Use of NIU-N is a privilege, not a right.
  • The principles of academic freedom apply in full to electronic communications equal to print communications.
  • Privacy expectations on NIU-N are based upon NIU’s Policy on Privacy in the Electronic Environment.
  • In general, the University cannot and does not wish to be the arbiter of the contents of electronic communications. Neither can the University always protect users from receiving or viewing electronic messages they might find offensive.
  • NIU-N resources must be used in a legal, ethical, responsible, and civil manner by all users. The use of computing and network services provided by the campus is subject to all applicable state and federal laws, as well as general University and campus policies. Individuals using campus computing and networking services should be particularly aware of policies that apply to discrimination, harassment, the use of copyrighted materials, and those that apply to the appropriate use of university resources
  • All standards of behavior that govern verbal and written communications at the University also extend to electronic communications.
  • Use of NIU-N resources must not cause loss of service nor risk loss of the University’s reputation.
  • Unless explicitly noted, these policies apply to all devices connected to the NIU-N.
  • Student, faculty, and staff privacy is always considered, all issues will be handled as expeditiously as possible.
  • All members of the campus community are given notice of this policy by virtue of its publication, and are subject to it on the same basis. Ignorance of this policy does not relieve anyone of his or her responsibilities under it. 

Policy

Authorized Use of the NIU-N

  • The use of these resources by faculty and staff, including student employees, while at work and/or performing the responsibilities of their position, should be consistent with the university mission, this policy, and the University’s other use and security policies, the Employee Conduct, Accountability and Ethics in the Workplace (ECAEW), and other applicable state and federal laws and regulations, including the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (SOEEA).
  • The use of these resources by students who are not acting as employees of the university should be consistent with this policy and the University’s other use and security policies, the Student Code of Conduct (SCoC), and applicable state and federal laws and regulations.
  • A user is responsible for all activities originating from their account(s), including all information sent from, intentionally requested, solicited or viewed from their account(s) and publicly accessible information placed on a computer using their account(s).

Unauthorized Use of the NIU-N

NIU-N may only be used for legal purposes and may not be used for any of the following purposes or any other purpose, which is illegal, immoral, unethical, dishonest, damaging to the reputation of the University, inconsistent with the mission of the University, or likely to subject the University to liability. Unauthorized uses include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Providing another person with their access details for any facility protected by user identification or password.
  • Intentionally using NIU-N resources for purposes that interfere with NIU’s mission.
  • Destruction of or damage to equipment, software, or data belonging to the University or others
  • Disruption or unauthorized monitoring of NIU-N
  • Unauthorized scanning of network nodes
  • Unauthorized use of the University’s trademarks, logos, insignia, or copyrights
  • Violation or circumvention of NIU computer system or NIU-N network security
    • Using non-DoIT approved email systems to conduct NIU business
  • Unauthorized use of computer accounts, access codes (including passwords), or network identification numbers (including NIU e-mail addresses) assigned to others
  • Intentionally accessing, without authorization, data stored within the NIU-N
  • Use of NIU computing facilities for private business purposes unrelated to the mission of the university
  • Violations of the Mass Communication Policy
  • Intentional distribution of malicious software such as viruses or worms
  • A user is not permitted, without prior approval, to:
    • Attach any device to NIU-N that extends access or provides off-campus access to NIU-N resources.
    • Tamper with or move installed NIU-N resources.
    • Attempt unauthorized access to any NIU-N resources.
  • A user in not permitted to copy, download, store or transmit material, which infringes copyright, such as music files, movies, or videos.
  • Responsibility to Maintain Privacy of Passwords: Passwords associated with an individual's network ID, device or system access cannot be shared.
  • Appropriate Use of Bandwidth: Bandwidth is a shared, finite resource. The Division of Information Technology (DoIT) will ensure there is adequate bandwidth capacity for activities in relation to the University mission.
  • NIU-N Resources: Users are required to take due care when using resources and equipment and take reasonable steps to avoid damage.

University-sponsored External Entities

  • Any University program that, in the interest of collaboration, wishes to provide an external entity with Internet access or to host non-University materials on an NIU-N connected server must first consult with the Chief Information Officer (CIO) about alternatives connections and contact the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) to complete a security assessment. 

Compliance

  • The University treats misuse of its NIU-N resources and facilities seriously and will pursue and address violations.
  • Anyone aware of possible violations of this Policy must report them immediately to an appropriate person (e.g. their supervisor, the system administrator, computer lab manager or Department Head/Chair, etc.).
  • Alleged serious or repeated violations must be reported to the CISO.
  • Anyone aware of risk to personal safety should contact 911 immediately.
  • Anyone aware of unauthorized entry to a computing facility must contact the CISO.
  • Reports of violations will be treated as confidential.

Violations

  • Faculty and staff violations will follow appropriate HR disciplinary processes.
  • Student violations will follow disciplinary procedures applicable to student misconduct.
  • Cases of serious, deliberate criminal conduct will be referred to the NIU Police Department or other external authorities and may result in civil or criminal proceedings.
  • NIU may, at its discretion, temporarily or permanently withdraw user access for repeat violations.

Definitions

User: any person using any of the University's NIU-N resources or facilities, including, but not limited to:

  • Faculty
  • Staff
  • Students
  • Clinical and adjunct title holders
  • Associates, honoraries and visiting staff
  • Alumni
  • Consultants
  • Contractors
  • Third parties (ex. Vendors, contractors, etc.)
  • Other users authorized by the University to access its systems and/or network
  • Anyone connecting non-NIU owned equipment (e.g. laptop computers) to the University network

Note: A person of the public reading public University web pages from outside the University is not, by virtue of that activity alone, considered to be a user.

NIU-N: All NIU resources and facilities operated by the University – whether owned, leased, used under license or by agreement – including, but not limited to:

  • Telephones (including mobile devices) and telephone equipment, voice mail, SMS
  • Mobile data devices
  • Desktop and laptop computers
  • Email, chat, facsimiles, mail
  • Any connection to the University's network (NIU-Guest, NIU), or use of any part of the University's network to access other networks
  • Connections to the Internet that are intended to fulfill information processing and communications functions
  • Communication services
  • Hardware, including printers, scanners, facsimile machines
  • Laboratories or other facilities
  • Any off-campus computers and associated peripherals and equipment provided for the purpose of University work or associated activities