Information Security



Endorsed by the Security Working Group – 16 May 2013

Endorsed by the Information and Common Shared IT Services Group – 20 May 2013

Approved by the Information Services Governance Committee - 17 July 2013

1 Introduction

1.1 As a centre of knowledge and training, University College London focuses on exploiting information. Next to people, information is UCL’s most important asset. The information we use exists in many forms: printed or written on paper, stored electronically, transmitted by post or using electronic means, shown on films, or spoken in conversation. Regardless of the form it takes, or means by which it is shared or stored, information should always be protected appropriately.

1.2 Information security is characterized here as being concerned with guaranteeing availability (ensuring that authorized users always have access to information when they need it), integrity (safeguarding its accuracy and completeness), confidentiality (ensuring that sensitive information is accessible only to those authorized to use it), and authenticity. It must also address proper methods of disposal of information that is no longer required. Security is essential to the success of almost every academic and administrative activity. Effective security is achieved by working within a proper framework, in compliance with legislation and UCL policies, and by adherence to approved procedures and codes of practice.

1.3 The objectives of this information security policy are to:

§ ensure that all of UCL’s computing facilities, programs, data, network and equipment are adequately protected against loss, misuse or abuse, and that this protection is cost-effective;

§ ensure that all users are aware of and fully comply with this policy statement and all associated policies, and are aware of and work in accordance with the relevant procedures and codes of practice;

§ ensure that paper records are kept securely and managed effectively;

§ ensure that all users are aware of and fully comply with the relevant UK and European Union legislation;

§ create across UCL an awareness that appropriate security measures must be implemented as part of the effective operation and support of information management systems;

§ ensure that all users understand their own responsibilities for protecting the confidentiality and integrity of the data they handle;

§ ensure that information is disposed of in an appropriately secure manner when it is no longer relevant or required.

1.4 The policy applies to all staff and students of UCL and all other computer, network or information users authorized by UCL or any department thereof. It relates to their use of any UCL-owned facilities (and those leased by or rented or on loan to UCL), centrally managed or otherwise; to all private systems (whether owned, leased, rented or on loan) when connected to the UCL network; to all UCL-owned or licensed data and programs (wherever stored); and to all data and programs provided to UCL by sponsors or external agencies (wherever stored). The policy also relates to paper files and records created for the purposes of UCL business.

1.5 Definitions of the terms used in this policy statement and supporting documentation may be found in the glossary at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/isd/common/cst/swg/policy/public-policy/Glossary.

1.6 The UCL Senior Management Team has approved this policy statement and delegated its implementation to Heads of Departments and Divisions.

2 Responsibilities for Information Security

2.1 All who make use of UCL’s systems and information have responsibility for protecting those assets. Individuals must, at all times, act in a responsible and professional way in this respect, and will refrain from any activity that may jeopardize security.

2.2 The Information Services Governance Committee (ISGC) is responsible for defining an information security policy and for ensuring it is discharged by all academic and administrative departments and divisions through the respective Head of Department. The policy will normally apply to associated bodies, including UCL-owned companies.

2.3 Heads of Department and Divisions are required to implement this policy in respect of both paper and electronic systems operated by their Departments or Divisions and are responsible for ensuring that staff, students and other persons authorized to use those systems are aware of and comply with it and associated codes of practice. They are required to appoint a Custodian for each system operated by them, and a departmental network administrator, whose duties and training requirements are set out in codes of practice associated with the information security policy. Heads of Department should ensure adequate oversight of security (in consultation with the UCL Information Security Group), through departmental computing support staff or otherwise. The roles of Custodians and departmental network administrators may be shared across smaller departments whenever appropriate, but the Head of Department remains responsible for ensuring the roles are fulfilled.

2.4 Operational responsibility for records management is delegated to the 
Records Manager, who is responsible for the development of procedures, advice 
on good practice and promotion of compliance with the UCL Records Management 
Policy (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/records-office/policy.shtml), which 
applies to all records in any format.

2.5 The Information and Common Shared IT Services Group (IISG) advises the ISGC on matters related to compliance with this policy, and is responsible for regularly reviewing it for completeness, effectiveness and usability. Through the Security Working Group and in collaboration with the UCL Information Security Group, it will from time to time make available supplementary procedures and codes of practice, and promote them throughout UCL; once approved by ISGC these will also become UCL policy and will be binding on departments.

The IISG will also arrange for analysis of security assessments received from departments and divisions, and report on these to the ISGC.

2.6 The UCL Information Security Group, in addition to its involvement in policymaking, provides relevant operational services. These include incident response and co-ordination, dissemination of security information, training, consultancy, and liaison with other external security teams and law enforcement agencies.

2.7 It is the responsibility of each individual to ensure his/her understanding of and compliance with this policy and any associated procedures or codes of practice.

2.8 Staff with supervisory responsibility should make their supervised staff or students aware of best practice.

2.9 Staff and students who process or who are responsible for the processing of personal data relating to National Health Service service users are additionally required to understand and comply with all obligations placed upon them by the NHS including but not limited to information security, integrity and perpetual confidentiality.

3 Compliance with Legislation

3.1 UCL, each member of staff, and its students have an obligation to abide by all UK legislation and the relevant legislation of the European Union. Of particular importance in this respect are the Computer Misuse Act 1990, the Data Protection Act 1998, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. This policy satisfies the Data Protection Act’s requirement for a formal statement of UCL’s security arrangements for personal data. The requirement for compliance devolves to all users defined in (1.4) above, who may be held personally responsible for any breach of the legislation.

3.2 Relevant legislation is referenced in supporting polices and guidelines. Full texts are available from Her Majesty's Stationery Office and at http://legislation.gov.uk/..

4 Risk Assessment and Security Review by Departments/Divisions

4.1 Custodians should adopt a risk-based approach to assessing the value of information handled, its sensitivity and the appropriateness of security controls in place or planned. Without proper assessment of the value of information assets, and the consequences (financial, reputational and otherwise) of loss of data or disruption to service, efforts to improve security are likely to be poorly targeted and ineffective. Similarly, periodic review is necessary to take into account changes to technology, legislation, business requirements and priorities; security arrangements should be revised accordingly.

4.2 Heads of Department should establish effective contingency plans appropriate to the outcome of any risk assessment. They are also required to re-evaluate periodically the security arrangements for their information management systems - at least once every three years, and additionally in response to significant departmental changes (such as turnover of key staff, commissioning of new systems etc.). A formal report must be submitted to the Information Services Governance Committee.

5 Breaches of Security

5.1 Any individual suspecting that the security of a computer system has been, or is likely to be, breached should inform the UCL Information Security Group (ISG) immediately. UCL ISG will advise UCL on what steps should be taken to avoid incidents or minimize their impact, and identify action plans to reduce the likelihood of recurrence.

5.2 In the event of a suspected or actual breach of security, UCL ISG may, after consultation with the relevant Custodian or Head of Department, require that any unsafe systems, user/login names, data and/or programs be removed or made inaccessible.

5.3 Where a breach of security involving either computer or paper records relates to personal information, the UCL Data Protection Office must be informed, as there may be an infringement of the Data Protection Act 1998 which could lead to civil or criminal proceedings. It is vital, therefore, that users of UCL’s information systems comply, not only with this policy, but also with UCL’s Data Protection Policy and associated codes of practice, details of which may be found on the UCL website.

5.4 All physical security breaches should be reported to UCL Security.

5.5 ISD Technology Services will monitor network activity, receive reports from the UCL Information Security Group and other security agencies, and take action or make recommendations consistent with maintaining the security of UCL information assets.

5.6 The Provost or his deputy has the authority to take whatever action is deemed necessary to protect UCL against breaches of security.

6 Policy Awareness and Disciplinary Procedure

6.1 A summary of this policy statement will be given to all new members of staff by Human Resources and to all new students by the Registrar’s Division. Existing staff and students of UCL, authorized third parties and contractors given access to the UCL network will be advised of the existence of this policy statement and the availability of the associated procedures, codes of practice and guidelines which are published on the UCL website. Failure of an individual student or member of staff to comply with this policy may lead to the instigation of disciplinary procedures and, in certain circumstances, legal action may be taken. Failure of a contractor to comply could lead to the cancellation of a contract.

6.2  Those requiring information, explanation or training about any aspects 
of the policy which relate to computer security should discuss their needs 
with the UCL Information Security Group.  Questions about the creation, 
classification, retention and disposal of records (in all formats) should be 
taken to the Records Manager.  The UCL Information Security Group and the  
Data Protection Officer will in the first instance be responsible for 
interpretation and clarification of the information security policy.

7 Supporting Policies, Procedures and Codes of Practice

7.1 Supporting policies, procedures and codes of practice amplifying this policy statement are published with it and are available on the UCL website. Staff, students, contractors and other third parties authorized to access the UCL network to use the systems and facilities identified in paragraph (1.4) of this policy, are required to familiarize themselves with these and to work in accordance with them. Guidance notes will also be published to facilitate this.

7.2 The National Health Service places additional obligations on users of 
NHS service user data. UCL requires compliance with these. Additional related 
UCL School of Life & Medical Sciences policies, procedures and guidance can be 
found at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/slms/ident-data/.

7.3 Personal data (as defined by the Data Protection Act, 1998) must be stored securely; if such data is held on mobile devices (e.g. laptops) or removable media, it must be strongly encrypted, in compliance with the Data Protection Policy and the Corporate Digital Data Ownership and Access Policy. Other forms of sensitive business data, intellectual property, etc. should, similarly, be strongly encrypted. The Information Security Group will issue and keep under review guidance on what constitutes an acceptable standard of encryption.

7.4 Any outsourced IT support must be subject to a written contract which must comply with the guidelines in “Security considerations in outsourced IT arrangements”.

8 Status of the Information Security Policy

This policy statement does not form part of a formal contract of employment with UCL, but it is a condition of employment that employees will abide by the regulations and policies made by UCL. Likewise, these latter are an integral part of the regulations for students.

[1] This document and the framework of supporting policies within which it exists were originally based closely on the work of Imperial College. We are grateful for their permission to make use of the material.