Guidance for Securing Workstations and Laptops

Brandeis University is deeply committed to the security of the university’s electronic files and data as well as the protection of our community's personal information. The guidance provided here will help you protect sensitive information contained on your computer and other electronic devices from theft or inappropriate use.  

Steps you can take

1. Remove protected information from your laptop, workstation or tablet drive.

  • Whenever possible, do not store student record information on your local computer drive. This should be stored on the LTS file storage or in a Box.com or Google Drive account.
  • If you work in an administrative office or role, you may be required to have Identity Finder installed on your computer. Identity Finder will scan all your files weekly and identify Social Security numbers and similar personally identifiable information for removal.

2. Make sure your computer, laptop or tablet requires a password to access it.

  • It doesn't matter how secure the files are on your computer; if anyone can open your laptop and access everything without typing a password, the information is exposed. Windows computers provided by LTS as part of the campus refresh program are automatically tied to your Brandeis login and password. Apple computers are not and must be configured to use a strong password or passphrase.

3. Back up your computer.

  • If a computer is lost or stolen, a backup not only protects the data but allows the university to determine what information was stolen. LTS has licensed backup software for laptops and workstations and will be enabling this on LTS-provided faculty and staff computers beginning in December 2015. If you are using a personally owned computer, we recommend you consider licensing Crashplan as a backup solution. This is the product we're using on campus and are therefore the most prepared to support.
  • It can be expensive and slow to backup an entire computer — focus on backing up your working files, not the operating system! You may also want to consider moving all your working files to brandeis.box.com and opening them directly from your browser using box edit. If you use the box sync app, then consider moving your "my documents" folder (on Windows) or "documents" (on a Mac) into the box sync folder. Anything you save there will be automatically uploaded into Box.

4. Review the physical security of your work environment.

  • Always lock your door, even when taking a quick trip to the restroom or to grab coffee. Discuss this with your suite- or officemates as well.
  • Make sure windows and/or sliding doors are locked, especially over the weekend, when no one may notice missing equipment for several days.
  • If you work in a high-traffic or open area, consider purchasing a cable lock for your workstation. Modern computers are increasingly small and very easy to walk off with.
  • Don't leave external USB drives lying around — even a modern thumb drive can hold millions of records of information.