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Campus Computing News

Copyright and Information Security*

By Maurice Leatherbury, Ph.D.
Associate Vice President for Computing and Chief Technology Officer

As members of an academic institution, UNT's employees respect the rights of authors and artists to benefit from the fruits of their labors. Thus we do not tolerate plagiarism nor do we tolerate the taking of intellectual property of others without permission or without compensation to the owners of the property. U.S. copyright laws govern how intellectual property may be fairly used in an educational setting as well what penalties may be levied against persons or companies that violate copyright protections. Fines for the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials can go up to $250,000, accompanied by five years in prison.

A major copyright problem in the U.S. now is the illegal sharing of music and films over the Internet. Academic institutions are being singled out by copyright owners for allowing illegal file sharing to occur on campuses. Here at UNT, we currently receive several notices per month from copyright owners asking us to take actions to prevent file sharing by persons on campus or in our dorms. We've put protections in place to block the known transmission of copyrighted files such as MP3 files of popular songs from our dorms, but those protections aren't foolproof nor do we have similar protections on the rest of UNT's network infrastructure.

While the vast majority of UNT's faculty, staff, and students abide by copyright laws, it's still necessary to remind everyone on campus of our responsibilities to refrain from sharing copyrighted materials without permission. It's also of note that such sharing is very likely to be detected by copyright holders and persons caught doing so can face costly fines. In short, do not share copyrighted materials without permission from the copyright holder.

Information Security

The campus is bombarded each day with attempts over the Internet to break into secure sites on campus, including our desktops, and by doing so to steal protected information. Here are three tips that will help you protect UNT as well as yourself from those attempts:

  1. Don't store sensitive information such as Social Security Account Numbers or credit card numbers of students on your personal computer or office computer. If that information along with the names of the account holders are stolen, UNT must report the breach to the individuals whose information was divulged but more importantly such theft exposes the affected individuals to potential identity theft.
     

  2. Email is a common way to spread viruses and worms and thus to steal information. Don't click on links embedded in e-mail messages that you receive from persons whom you don't know and trust. Such links are the most common ways that thieves inject viruses into your computer.
     

  3. If you're responsible for a Web site, make sure that you're not capturing and storing personal information such as SSAN's or credit card numbers on the site. If you really have to do that, be sure to contact your network manager or the CITC's security team to have them check on the security of your site before starting the collection of data.

Thanks for your cooperation in making UNT secure.


*October is "National cyber security awareness month." Visit the Information Security website and check out the information at the bottom of the page labeled "Required reading for UNT Faculty, Staff, and Students ( Required reading for handlers of sensitive information )." Also, check out the InHouse Series on Information Security that ran this past spring. Finally, if you are a student, you need to be aware that "Instructors at the University of North Texas have access to Turnitin’s plagiarism prevention system to deter plagiarism and promote academic integrity." Visit the UNT Turnitin website for more information.

Additional information about cyber security can be found at the EDUCAUSE Security Task Force website. -- Ed. 
 

 


Originally published, October 2007 -- Please note that information published in Benchmarks Online is likely to degrade over time, especially links to various Websites. To make sure you have the most current information on a specific topic, it may be best to search the UNT Website - http://www.unt.edu . You can also search Benchmarks Online - http://www.unt.edu/benchmarks/archives/back.htm as well as consult the UNT Helpdesk - http://www.unt.edu/helpdesk/ Questions and comments should be directed to
benchmarks@unt.edu

 

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