Acceptable Use Policy

SPARK Web Services

1. Overview

The Educational Foundation for Prince William County Public Schools (“SPARK”) has established a culture of openness, trust, and integrity. SPARK is committed to protecting employees, contractors, teachers, students, and itself from illegal or damaging actions by individuals, either knowingly or unknowingly.

Internet/Intranet/Extranet-related systems, including but not limited to computer equipment, software, operating systems, storage media, network accounts, electronic mail, WWW browsing, and FTP are the sole property of SPARK. These systems are to be used for educational purposes serving the interest of the Foundation, and of our users in the course of normal operations. For further details, please contact SPARK by clicking Contact Us at the top of any page.

Effective security is a team effort involving the participation and support of every SPARK employee and affiliate who deals with information and/or information systems. It is the responsibility of every computer user to know these guidelines and conduct their business accordingly.

2. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to outline the acceptable use of computer equipment and related services as they pertain to SPARK operations. These rules are in place to protect the employee, user, and SPARK itself. Inappropriate use exposes SPARK to risks including virus attacks, compromise of network systems and services, and legal issues.

3. Scope

This policy applies to the use of information, electronic and computing devices, and network resources to conduct SPARK business or interact with internal networks and business systems, whether owned or leased by SPARK, the employee, or a third party. All employees, contractors, consultants, temporary and other users of systems belonging to SPARK and its subsidiaries are responsible for exercising good judgment regarding appropriate use of information, electronic devices, and network resources in accordance with SPARK policies and standards, local laws and regulations. Exceptions to this policy are documented in section 5.2.

This policy applies to employees, contractors, consultants, temporaries, and any other users of SPARK networks, including third-party users. This policy also applies to all equipment and networks that are owned or leased by SPARK.

4. Policy

4.1 General Use and Ownership

4.1.1 SPARK proprietary information stored on electronic and computing devices whether owned or leased by SPARK, the user, or a third party, remains the sole property of SPARK. You must ensure through legal or technical means that proprietary information is protected in accordance with the Data Protection Standard.
4.1.2 You have a responsibility to promptly report the theft, loss or unauthorized disclosure of SPARK proprietary information.
4.1.3 You may access, use or share SPARK proprietary information only to the extent it is authorized and necessary to fulfill your assigned job duties or as a part of the user experience.
4.1.4 Employees (or other SPARK affiliates) are responsible for exercising good judgment regarding the reasonableness of personal use.
4.1.5 For security and network maintenance purposes, authorized individuals within SPARK may monitor equipment, systems and network traffic at any time, per SPARK’s Audit Policy.
4.1.6 SPARK reserves the right to audit networks and systems on a periodic basis to ensure compliance with this policy.

4.2 Security and Proprietary Information

4.2.1 All mobile and computing devices that connect to the internal network must comply with the Minimum Access Policy.
4.2.2 System level and user level passwords must comply with the Password Policy. Providing access to another individual, either deliberately or through failure to secure its access, is prohibited.
4.2.3 All computing devices must be secured with a password-protected screensaver with the automatic activation feature set to 10 minutes or less. You must lock the screen or log off when the device is unattended.
4.2.4 Postings by employees from a SPARK email address to newsgroups should contain a disclaimer stating that the opinions expressed are strictly their own and not necessarily those of SPARK, unless posting is in the course of business duties.
4.2.5 Employees must use extreme caution when opening e-mail attachments received from unknown senders, which may contain malware

4.3 Unacceptable Use

The following activities are, in general, prohibited. Employees may be exempted from these restrictions during the course of their legitimate job responsibilities (e.g., systems administration staff may have a need to disable the network access of a host if that host is disrupting production services).
Under no circumstances is an employee of SPARK authorized to engage in any activity that is illegal under local, state, federal or international law while utilizing SPARK-owned resources.
The lists below are by no means exhaustive, but attempt to provide a framework for activities which fall into the category of unacceptable use.

4.3.1 System and Network Activities

The following activities are strictly prohibited, with no exceptions:

  • 1. Violations of the rights of any person or company protected by copyright, trade secret, patent or other intellectual property, or similar laws or regulations, including, but not limited to, the installation or distribution of "pirated" or other software products that are not appropriately licensed for use by SPARK.
  • 2. Unauthorized copying of copyrighted material including, but not limited to, digitization and distribution of photographs from magazines, books or other copyrighted sources, copyrighted music, and the installation of any copyrighted software for which SPARK or the end user does not have an active license is strictly prohibited.
  • 3. Accessing data, a server or an account for any purpose other than conducting business, even if you have authorized access, is prohibited.
  • 4. Exporting software, technical information, encryption software or technology, in violation of international or regional export control laws, is illegal. The appropriate management should be consulted prior to export of any material that is in question.
  • 5. Introduction of malicious programs into the network or server (e.g., viruses, worms, Trojan horses, e-mail bombs, etc.).
  • 6. Revealing your account password to others or allowing use of your account by others. This includes family and other household members when work is being done at home.
  • 7. Using a computing asset to actively engage in procuring or transmitting material that is in violation of sexual harassment or hostile workplace laws in the user's local jurisdiction.
  • 8. Making fraudulent offers of products, items, or services originating from any account.
  • 9. Making statements about warranty, expressly or implied, unless it is a part of normal job duties.
  • 10. Effecting security breaches or disruptions of network communication. Security breaches include, but are not limited to, accessing data of which the employee is not an intended recipient or logging into a server or account that the employee is not expressly authorized to access, unless these duties are within the scope of regular duties. For purposes of this section, "disruption" includes, but is not limited to, network sniffing, pinged floods, packet spoofing, denial of service, and forged routing information for malicious purposes.
  • 11. Port scanning or security scanning is expressly prohibited unless prior notification to management is made.
  • 12. Executing any form of network monitoring which will intercept data not intended for the employee's host, unless this activity is a part of the employee's normal job/duty.
  • 13. Circumventing user authentication or security of any host, network or account.
  • 14. Introducing honeypots, honeynets, or similar technology on the network.
  • 15. Interfering with or denying service to any user other than the employee's host (for example, denial of service attack).
  • 16. Using any program/script/command, or sending messages of any kind, with the intent to interfere with, or disable, a user's terminal session, via any means, locally or via the Internet/Intranet/Extranet.
  • 17. Providing information about, or lists of, SPARK employees to parties outside SPARK.

4.3.2 Email and Communication Activities

When using SPARK resources to access and use the Internet, users must realize they represent the company. Whenever employees state an affiliation to the company, they must also clearly indicate that "the opinions expressed are my own and not necessarily those of the company". Questions may be addressed to the IT Department.

  • 1. Sending unsolicited email messages, including the sending of "junk mail" or other advertising material to individuals who did not specifically request such material (email spam).
  • 2. Any form of harassment via email, telephone or paging, whether through language, frequency, or size of messages.
  • 3. Unauthorized use, or forging, of email header information.
  • 4. Solicitation of email for any other email address, other than that of the poster's account, with the intent to harass or to collect replies.
  • 5. Creating or forwarding "chain letters", "Ponzi" or other "pyramid" schemes of any type.
  • 6. Use of unsolicited email originating from within SPARK's networks of other Internet/Intranet/Extranet service providers on behalf of, or to advertise, any service hosted by or connected via SPARK's network.
  • 7. Posting the same or similar non-business-related messages to large numbers of Usenet newsgroups (newsgroup spam).

4.3.3 Blogging and Social Media

  • 1. Blogging by employees, whether using SPARK’s property and systems or personal computer systems, is also subject to the terms and restrictions set forth in this Policy. Limited and occasional use of SPARK’s systems to engage in blogging is acceptable, provided that it is done in a professional and responsible manner, does not otherwise violate SPARK’s policy, is not detrimental to SPARK’s best interests, and does not interfere with an employee's regular work duties. Blogging from SPARK’s systems is also subject to monitoring.
  • 2. SPARK’s Confidential Information policy also applies to blogging. As such, Employees are prohibited from revealing any confidential or proprietary information, trade secrets or any other material covered by SPARK’s Confidential Information Policy when engaged in blogging.
  • 3. Employees shall not engage in any blogging that may harm or tarnish the image, reputation and/or goodwill of SPARK and/or any of its employees. Employees are also prohibited from making any discriminatory, disparaging, defamatory or harassing comments when blogging or otherwise engaging in any conduct prohibited by SPARK’s Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment policy.
  • 4. Employees may also not attribute personal statements, opinions or beliefs to when engaged in blogging. If an employee is expressing his or her beliefs and/or opinions in blogs, the employee may not, expressly or implicitly, represent themselves as an employee or representative of SPARK. Employees assume any and all risk associated with blogging.
  • 5. Apart from following all laws pertaining to the handling and disclosure of copyrighted or export controlled materials, SPARK’s trademarks, logos and any other intellectual property may also not be used in connection with any blogging activity.

5. Policy Compliance

5.1 Compliance Measurement

The SPARK Management team will verify compliance to this policy through various methods, including but not limited to, business tool reports, internal and external audits, and feedback.

5.2 Exceptions

Any exception to the policy must be approved by the Management team in writing in advance.

5.3 Non-Compliance

An employee found to have violated this policy may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

6. Related Standards, Policies, and Processes

  • Data Classification Policy
  • Data Protection Standard
  • Social Media Policy
  • Minimum Access Policy
  • Password Policy

7. Definitions and Terminology

  • Blogging
  • Honeypot
  • Honeynet
  • Proprietary Information
  • Spam

8. Revision History