Internet, and SMS Texting Usage Policy Group Policy

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1 Internet, and SMS Texting Usage Policy Group Policy Scope: This Orbit Housing Group Limited ( Group ) policy provides a set of guidelines for all users within the Group on the proper usage of the Internet, and SMS texting facilities provided. Access to the Internet, use of , and SMS texting including any permitted personal use, is determined by each Operating Association and Divisions of the Group. Any personal use is subject to the same guidelines as set out for business use. All unauthorised use, personal or otherwise, is expressly prohibited. 1 Introduction 1.1 Where employees of the Group have access to the Internet, as a source of information, and for communicating via and SMS texting with colleagues, customers, and others. The purposes of the Internet, and SMS texting are: to provide staff with access to the latest information on changes in technology, legal issues and other business matters; to provide a cost-effective method of communicating with business partners (such as other associations, local authorities, etc.), customers, and co-workers; to provide employees with the opportunity to research relevant Internet sites for the purpose of enhancing the skills and knowledge necessary for their jobs. 1.2 By allowing access to the Internet, and SMS texting the Group does expose itself to certain dangers. These dangers include: the risk of unauthorised people ( hackers ) gaining access to the Group s computer systems; the risk of viruses being introduced to the Group s computer systems; the risk of adverse public relations arising from mis-use of the system; the risk of slowing down the service provided by the computer systems through bad practice in the use of . The risk of incurring charges for the use of SMS texting for unauthorised and/or personal use. 2. Prevention Of Hacking 2.1 Hacking is the term used to describe unauthorised access to the Groups computer systems or the information contained on them. Orbit Housing Group Limited - Internet and Usage Policy Page 1 of 6

2 2.2 The dangers which the Group may face as a result of hacking, include: unauthorised changes being made to information held on the Group s computer systems; private or confidential information being revealed by hackers resulting in embarrassment, loss of customer confidence in the Group, or fines or compensation payments as a result of non-compliance with legal requirements to maintain information security. In order to minimise the risk of hacking, users must: never reveal their user-id and password to anyone else; change their password immediately if they suspect that it may have become known by any other person; inform the relevant Computer Services department immediately if anyone asks them to reveal their password; never send confidential information via without asking the relevant Computer Services department for advice on how the information can be protected; not reveal information related to any of the Group s computer and communication systems to third parties. This information includes phone numbers for dial-up modems, IP addresses, etc., and should only be given to third parties with the written permission of the relevant Computer Services department. 3. Protection From Viruses 3.1 A virus is a computer program with a hidden malicious function which copies itself into other programs or into the computer s memory. 3.2 Viruses may show messages on the computer screen, they may erase information from the Group s computer systems, or they may simply replicate themselves, thus using all available disk space. The end result is that they prevent normal work from being processed and cause disruption to the Group s activities. If it were to become known that the Group had suffered a virus infection, it could also lead to adverse publicity for the Group. 3.3 In order to reduce the risk of introducing viruses onto the Group s systems, virus detection software is installed on all PCs and servers. There are however, still certain safeguards which users must follow: never download any software from the Internet without the approval of the relevant Computer Services department; never load any software from disks or CDs which have not been supplied by the relevant Computer Services department (the relevant Computer Services department will check that the Group complies with all copyright and licensing agreements as well as ensuring no viruses are present); Orbit Housing Group Limited - Internet and Usage Policy Page 2 of 6

3 never circumvent the Group s firewall (a piece of software which sits between the Group s network and external networks to protect the Group s systems and information), for example, by directly connecting your computer to the Internet using a modem; never send or forward any chain letters through (these are a form of virus which work by slowing down the system due to the excessive use of resources required to send large numbers of messages and by using up excessive disk space to store the messages); always virus scan all attachments and any files received from the Internet before opening them if in doubt DO NOT open the attachment; always use virus checking software to ensure no infections are present on any disks received from outside the Group; always report any potential infections by a computer virus (including receipt of chain letters via ) to the relevant Computer Services department immediately. For the avoidance of doubt, virus warnings will be issued ONLY by the relevant Computer Services department, any other virus warnings received via should be regarded as chain letters and reported to the relevant Computer Services department. 4. PROTECTION OF THE GROUP S REPUTATION 4.1 The Group needs to maintain its reputation in order to ensure that all of our customers (tenants, other groups, local authorities etc.) continue to trust us and want to do business with us. 4.2 Misuse of the Internet, and SMS texting systems can result in adverse publicity. In order to protect the Group s reputation, users must: not represent or write on behalf of the Group without management approval; include the standard Group disclaimer as part of all messages sent via the Internet (which is automatically added to all s that are sent externally); not duplicate or distribute copyrighted software (including software developed by the Group); never access, view or distribute objectionable material (such as pornographic or racist material) through the Group s network; never send or post messages which discriminates on the basis of race, gender, religious belief, sexual orientation, disability or other biases; not access systems or files to which they are not authorized. Orbit Housing Group Limited - Internet and Usage Policy Page 3 of 6

4 5. PROTECTION OF SERVICE LEVELS 5.1 The business of the Group is increasingly reliant on the availability of its computer systems. In order to meet the expectations of customers, these systems need to be available and dependable and to provide adequate response. 5.2 Bad practice in the use of and the Internet can use too much disk space and slow down response times. In order to prevent this, users must: never use the Group s time and resources for personal use except to the extent permitted by each Operating Association and Divisions of OHGL in its policy governing the personal use of the internet and ; avoid, wherever possible, using excessive system resources during peak working hours. An example would be transferring large files between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (If in doubt, contact the relevant Computer Services department for advice); not send file attachments larger than 20 Megabytes. If you need to share a file larger than this with a colleague, you should consider placing a copy of the file in a shared directory where multi-users can access the file. If this is not possible, then a tool such as Winzip should be used to compress the file before attaching it to an message; only send messages to people who need to receive them. Do not use general address lists when they are not appropriate, or send multiple copies as this can overburden the system resources; regularly clear down their unwanted messages, as a general guide incoming messages should be deleted after three months, and outgoing messages after one month. 6. Etiquette 6.1 and SMS texting are comparatively new forms of communication, falling somewhere between the formality of a letter and the informality of a telephone call. However, because and SMS lack the feedback available in face to face communications, it is easy for misunderstandings to arise, and in order to prevent this, users should follow the guidelines below: always re-read messages before sending them to ensure that the message can be understood, spelling and grammar are correct, the message is not ambiguous, the tone of the message is correct, etc.; use the content line of messages to help describe the content; respect the privacy of others, for example, do not forward or distribute or SMS without permission; ensure that messages requiring a response on business matters are dealt with in a timely manner; ensure when users are away from the office that the out of office facility Orbit Housing Group Limited - Internet and Usage Policy Page 4 of 6

5 in Outlook is utilised, including automatic response and forwarding where required; utilise the automatic signature function detailing the users name, job title, Operating Association or Divisions of OHGL and telephone number; always ensure that messages distinguish between opinion and fact, particularly if there is a possibility that recipients may confuse a personal opinion with Group policy or position; don t send messages in anger, or make hasty responses; use formatting to make messages easy to read. but remember that users outside the Group may not have the same features, so avoid using special fonts, bold or underline if the recipient is not within the Group; don t make messages Urgent unless they need to be; don t be fooled by the illusion of privacy, anything committed to and SMS can be stored, copied or distributed without your knowledge for a long time to come; don t send messages all in capital letters, as this can appear to give greater emphasis, or can appear angry or harsh; always cite appropriate references etc. to ensure that the context of a message can be understood. 7. Supervision And Enforcement of Policy 7.1 Breaches of the Internet, and SMS texting policy and related policies governing information security and personnel conduct will be regarded as misconduct. Depending upon the seriousness of the breach, the members of the Group will instigate appropriate disciplinary proceedings. Disciplinary action may range from written reprimands to the termination of employment and prosecution where gross misconduct is established. 7.2 The members of the Group own all information stored on its systems, including all messages transmitted over its network. The members of the Group therefore reserve the right to access the accounts of users for business purposes. 7.3 Any s that are stopped due to content or size, will be notified to the intended internal recipient or sender (and if appropriate their line manager) by the relevant Computer Services Department; 7.4 Users should also be aware that under the Data Protection Act, messages containing references to an individual form part of the information held by the members of the Group on that individual and may therefore be subject to an access request under the Act. 7.5 In order to maintain effective control over the use of its IT resources, the members of the Group may also record certain types of activities, events or alerts to allow for overall management and monitoring of our Internet connection. Reports of Internet activity may be provided to management periodically for their use in gauging the level and type of Internet. In addition, the Group may access any user s computer accounts or communication. The Orbit Housing Group Limited - Internet and Usage Policy Page 5 of 6

6 Group reserves the right to disclose information collected during the auditing process to appropriate third parties, (including law enforcement agencies) if it appears necessary to do so. Users expressly consent to such monitoring, recording and auditing. This should be read in conjunction with: Group Information Security Policy. Group Data Protection Policy. Users must comply with the instructions in all policy documents. Orbit Housing Group Limited - Internet and Usage Policy Page 6 of 6

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