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Acceptable Use Policy

 

The internet is a digital jungle, complex, wonderful, and can be a complicated place for individuals and enterprises. There is no doubt that the internet hosts amazing resources and countless malicious websites that can pose significant risks and dangers to an organization. Conversely, digital solutions on-prem and in the cloud empower organizations at all levels in any industry to deliver a great customer experience, provide many other functions, and securely manage transactions.

Navigating this digital jungle for any organization requires an acceptable use policy. The acceptable use policy is a document that can help organizations clarify the reasons and purpose of the internet for people relating to an organization, which will help the cybersecurity posture and operations.

In this article, you will learn about the acceptable use policy, What an Acceptable Use Policy cover, the difference between Acceptable use policy and an end-user license agreement, and how an organization can enforce Acceptable use policy.

What Is an Acceptable Use Policy?

An agreement between two or more parties that specifies the permitted use of access to a corporate network or the internet is known as an acceptable use policy, or AUP. This document outlines what users are allowed and prohibited to do when using this network.

An AUP, or Acceptable Use Policy, is a simple set of guidelines developed by the owner of a website, online service, or computer infrastructure to limit unauthorized or illegal use of their software or information assets. Many businesses, ISPs, website owners, and colleges have started developing their own AUPs to lower the risk associated with legal actions. Therefore, an AUP guides the types of behaviour and technological usage permitted and discouraged within a business or academic institution.

An AUP is an integral part of every business and is a component of the information security policies’ framework. As a result, AUPs must be brief and easy to read and understand while clearly stating what users are and are not permitted to do when using the company’s IT systems.

What is the difference between Acceptable Use Policy and an End-User License Agreement?

An AUP covers a much bigger system, distinguishing it from other user agreements like the typical end-user license agreement (EULA), which most individuals skim before clicking “I accept.” An AUP covers entire networks, websites, and how a person is expected to behave when utilizing an organization’s resources. EULA, on the other hand, only applies to a particular piece of software. An AUP is for employees, while EULA is for customers or end-users.

What does an Acceptable Use Policy cover?

An AUP ensures that everyone utilizes internet access exclusively for legitimate purposes.

Here are terms that you might come across in an AUP:

Unacceptable Use – This is where any unacceptable use is stated, which could include restriction to some websites and social media platforms on the organization’s network. Unacceptable use can also include defining prohibited behaviours like using organization devices for betting or viewing pornographic materials, or downloading illegal files and software.

Acceptable use – This explains how employees are expected to use the organization’s assets, which mostly focus on the organization’s best practices.

Purpose – This is usually why the policy is written from a business perspective, by which all employees of the organization must abide.

Expectation – This is usually covering the overall idea and expectations for all employees and the way they are expected to use the organization’s resources

Confidentiality and disclosure – This usually involve any business policy that has to do with maintaining confidentiality and disclosure

Network Use – This section usually involves information that relates to all account types and network limitations

Enforcement – This usually ends the AUP and is centred around how an organization should monitor that all the rules are being followed and enforce every user on the network to abide by the terms and conditions of the AUP. It usually states the sanctions for violators

How An Organization Can Enforce Acceptable Use Policies

Getting users to click “I accept” is usually the easy part of agreeing to AUP. Still, the real challenge is making them follow the terms and conditions of the Acceptable use policy. Here are a few tips on how an organization can enforce AUP:

Organizations need to make the AUP known

Users will often click the “I accept” button to access the resource or asset they need without properly reading or understanding the terms of the AUP agreement. This is why organizations should consider including the AUP terms and conditions in the Employee Handbook or other documents that employees would easily go through. One of the best times to get employees or contractors to read the AUP is during the onboarding process.

Creating a plan to correct any issue that relates to the AUP

When users are aware of the sanctions that might be associated with breaching the terms of the AUP, they are likely to be more aware of the terms and conditions of the AUP. Organizations must have a clear policy on the sanctions they will consistently follow if a user is caught violating the terms of the AUP.

The AUP must be clear and concise.

Instead of using big legal terms that can confuse the users, writing an AUP that is easy to understand should be the standard practice. To make it easier for users to understand, organizations might write some points in bold, short phrases and bullet points to emphasize the important areas that the users need to pay more attention to.

Organizations should conduct an AUP knowledge test regularly.

Conducting an organization-wide AUP knowledge test is also an excellent way to encourage employees to pay more attention to the terms of the AUP. A quiz about choosing a team member to discuss the importance of the AUP can motivate other employees to take AUP more seriously. However, it is also essential to be ready to correct and explain any part of the AUP at any point required.

Conclusion

An AUP is intended to safeguard an organization and its employees. There isn’t a size-fit fix or universal AUP that will apply to all businesses, schools, and institutions. Therefore, an organization must invest the time and resources necessary to make an AUP tailored to and beneficial to the organization in any particular industry. In addition to customizing the principles above to an organization based on analysis, regulations must also be enforced.

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