Information Security

Information Security

Information security is the protection of information and systems from unauthorized access, disclosure, modification, destruction, or disruption.

The three objectives of information security are:

  • Confidentiality
  • Integrity
  • Availability


Confidentiality refers to the protection of information from unauthorized access or disclosure. Ensuring confidentiality is ensuring that those who are authorized to access information are able to do so and those who are not authorized are prevented from doing so.


Integrity refers to the protection of information from unauthorized modification or destruction. Ensuring integrity is ensuring that information and information systems are accurate, complete and uncorrupted.


Availability refers to the protection of information and information systems from unauthorized disruption. Ensuring availability is ensuring timely and reliable access to and use of information and information systems.

Your role in information security

Information Security

Three primary roles have been defined in the context of information security:

  1. Data Steward
  2. Data Custodian
  3. User

A user is any employee, contractor or third-party affiliate of Carnegie Mellon who is authorized to access institutional data or information systems.

Users are responsible for:

Adhering to information security policies, guidelines and procedures.

Reporting suspected vulnerabilities, breaches and/or misuse of institutional data to a manager, IT support staff or the Information Security Office.


  • Avoid Risky Behaviour
  • Report suspected security breaches
  • Safeguard electronic communications
  • Safeguard institutional data

Safeguarding Institutional Data

Know your data

Be mindful of what type of data you handle:

  • Public
  • Private
  • Restricted

Examples of Restricted data include account passwords, driver’s license numbers, education records of students, financial account information, health information and social security numbers.

Protecting Electronic Data

  • Avoid storing Restricted data on mobile computing devices
  • Don’t store institutional data on personally owned computing devices
  • Don’t store Restricted data on CDs, DVDs, USB thumb drives, etc.
  • Don’t transmit Restricted data via email and other insecure messaging solutions
  • Don’t use personal email for business communications
  • Use strong passwords or passphrases
  • Secure your computing devices

Safeguard Your Password

  • Use a strong password or passphrase
  • Change your password periodically
  • Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts
  • Don’t write your password down or store it in an insecure manner
  • Don’t share your password with anyone for any reason
  • Don’t use automatic login functionality

Secure your Computer

  • Update and patch your operating system
  • Enable automatic software updates where available
  • Update and patch software applications (e.g. browsers, email clients, JAVA, etc.)
  • Install and update antivirus software
  • Install and configure firewall software
  • Do not automatically connect to public wireless networks
  • Disconnect your computer from the wireless network when it is not in use
  • Use caution when enabling browser pop-ups
  • Use caution when downloading and installing software
  • Lock your computer when it is unattended

Protecting Physical Data

  • Close and lock your door when leaving your office unattended
  • Lock file cabinets that store institutional data
  • Don’t leave Restricted data in plain view at your desk or on a whiteboard
  • Don’t leave Restricted data sitting on a printer, copier, fax machine or other
  • peripheral device

Protecting Verbal Communication

  • Be mindful of your surroundings when discussing Restricted data
  • Don’t discuss Restricted data with individuals who do not have a need to know

Disposing of Data

  • Dispose of data when it is no longer needed for business purposes
  • Use Identity Finder to securely delete files that contain Restricted data
  • Use the Computer Recycling Program to dispose of electronic media
  • Use a cross shredder to dispose of paper-based and written media

Safeguarding Electronic Communications

Electronic communications can be in the form of email, instant messaging, text messaging, social network, etc.

  • Avoid opening attachments from an untrusted source
  • Avoid clicking on links in electronic communications from an untrusted source
  • Be wary of phishing scams
  • Avoid sending Restricted data through email and other electronic communications

Avoid Risky Behaviour Online

  • Be cautious when using file-sharing applications
  • Be cautious when browsing the web
  • Be cautious when clicking on shortened URLs
  • Avoid responding to questions or clicking on links in pop-up windows

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