Computer Misuse Policy

All access of computers and connected systems is governed by the Computer Misuse Act 1990. This act has created three criminal offences covering the usage of computers:

1. Unauthorised access to computer material

It is illegal to access a computing system unless authorised to do so and as such it makes the activity of ‘hacking’ a crime. It does not matter whether the hacker is remote, working from a distance over the remote area networks, or local, where persons such as staff or students who may have limited authorisation to use the computers knowingly exceed that authority. The hacking need not be directed at a particular computer, programme or data. For example, it is unlawful without proper authority:

  • To use another person’s ID and password in order to access a computer, use data or run a programme;
  • To alter, delete, copy, or move a programme or data, or simply to output a programme or data; or
  • To lay a trap to obtain a password.

2. Unauthorised access to a computer system with intent to commit or facilitate the commission of a further offence.

This covers the situation where unauthorised access is gained with intent to commit a further offence. For example, a person may gain unauthorised access to computer material in order to commit theft by re-directing funds from someone else’s bank account.

3. Unauthorised modification of computer material

This offence includes the deliberate deletion or corruption of programmes or data. It also includes the introduction of viruses etc., where these result in the modification or destruction of data.

Please note that University College Birmingham will take very seriously any attempts at ‘hacking’ internal/external systems. Any such actions will be reported to the appropriate authorities immediately.

Internet and Intranet Policy (extracts)

1. University College Birmingham Internet/Intranet Access

University College Birmingham offers free access to the Internet (via JANET) to all authorised, registered students via PCs in the Libraries, Resource Centres, the Knowledge Transfer Centre, and computer suites throughout UCB. UCB reserves the right to refuse access to any student found to be in breach of these guidelines.

2. General Guidance

University College Birmingham receives its Internet/e-mail services via JANET (The UK’s Academic & Research Network), and has to adhere to JANET’s Acceptable Use Policy.

JANET Acceptable Use Policy

Please take time to read this document and be fully aware of its contents and implications.

Students access JANET and the Internet at their own risk. University College Birmingham has no control over the content, timeliness, and accuracy of information on the Internet. University College Birmingham will keep a log of all sites accessed by students which will be checked on a daily basis. University College Birmingham will install appropriate software, as it becomes available, that will actively block sites that are considered inappropriate for students to access during the normal course of their work.

Viewing or downloading any unauthorised unlicensed software or pornographic and/or obscene material on the internet will lead to the immediate loss of access rights and the person will be reported to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for further action. UK Law may ban some material downloaded from the Internet. Once a file is on your computer, it is considered to be in your possession. There have been a number of successful prosecutions relating to the contents of computer hard drives.

Student E-Mail Policy

1. University College Birmingham E-mail

University College Birmingham actively encourages the use of email by both staff and students. University College Birmingham does not routinely monitor or inspect this without good reason. University College Birmingham does however reserve the right to inspect, monitor, or disclose email, when it has a reason to believe that a user has breached the email privileges. Anyone breaching the guidelines may lose access rights and will be subject to University College Birmingham’s Disciplinary Procedure.

2. Email User Guidance

Users need to be aware that e-mail is not as secure or as private as may be perceived. Email, due to its very nature, is easily distributed due to the forwarding facilities within the e-mail software. A message sent to one person can quite easily be forwarded to an unlimited number of people or could even be posted onto an electronic bulletin board or ‘List Server’, even though is was only intended be to seen by the original recipient. Even when a user deletes their copy of the email, it may still exist in a backup file, on the recipient's system or elsewhere on the Internet. University College Birmingham has no means of protecting against such eventualities.

Email created or stored on University College Birmingham systems may be subject to disclosure during legal proceedings. University College Birmingham will not routinely disclose email without good reason. Users are therefore cautioned against using email to make any statements which they may not wish to be disclosed in the case of a dispute at a later date.

University College Birmingham expects users to use the same personal and professional courtesies and considerations in e-mail as they would in any form of communication. University College Birmingham cannot ‘authenticate’ the origin of all email unless it is sent using an authorised email service. University College Birmingham requires users not to make any attempt to disguise the origin of their email. Any email that has been forwarded can be modified to hide its source; this again is against University College Birmingham policy.

Do Not:

  • Use University College Birmingham email for mass, junk or chain e-mailing
  • Read any unsolicited email - delete it without reading it
  • Attach files to email unless you have to, as you can always cut and paste plain text into an email
  • Leave your email address on a website or you could end up receiving junk email
  • Misrepresent individuals or University College Birmingham within an email as University College Birmingham has no means of protecting against such eventualities.
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