Security Awareness Policy

It is the responsibility of all employees of the University to protect sensitive data against loss or theft. Awareness, education, and practice of the following procedures can assist in this matter. These procedures are in place to help protect employees, customers, contractors, and the university from damages related to the loss or misuse of sensitive information.

This document refers to securing sensitive data and physical hardware within an office environment or mobile environment where data may be referenced (at home or on a laptop). It is not meant to address electronic data stored on university servers. 



In order to effectively protect and secure university data, the following goals have been established:

  1. Educate users on cybersecurity
  2. Educate users on computer security
  3. Educate users on the secure office environment
  4. Educate users on sensitive data

Employee awareness and education are an integral part of securing sensitive data for the university. The following resources will be available to all employees:

Cybersecurity Resources

  1. Annual cyber security training
  2. Cyber Safety website
  3. Monthly Cyber Safety newsletters
  4. Computer Virus and Malware Policy

Computer Security Resources

  1. Email Policy
  2. Acceptable Use Policy
  3. Confidentiality, Data & Security Policy
  4. Setting Strong Passwords
  5. Using Password Managers

Secure Office Resources

a) Keys or keycards used for access to sensitive data should not be left unattended
b) Passwords should not be shared or written down and left at accessible locations
c) If you have a student that will regularly be using your machine, contact the IT Service Desk and request a staff account for that student. (Do NOT give out your password)
d) Make certain passwords aren't common information such as date of birth, names of children, pets, telephone numbers, etc.
e) When you leave your workstation, lock your computer screen
f) Lock up laptops, USB drives, external drives, etc. when unsupervised
g) Contact IT Services when a computer is to be passed to a new user. IT will clean the computer, remove previous data and place a clean image on the machine.
h) Printouts containing sensitive data should be removed from networked printers immediately and filed appropriately in secure cabinets
i) Dispose of sensitive data on hard copy by shredding immediately
j) Departmental front desk staff should confirm the identity of all visitors (GVSU staff/student workers or non-GVSU employees) who are entering their area(s)

i. Employees should feel comfortable requesting what unit someone is from and the purpose of their visit

ii. Employees should feel comfortable confirming meetings prior to allowing staff member/student employees to proceed within their departmental areas

iii. Confirm with the GVSU employee they are scheduled to meet

iv. Non-GVSU employees must be escorted to/from the meeting area/work area

v. Request ID if necessary

k) All staff should be responsible to watch for or listen to any unusual activity and to be cognizant of their surroundings.

Sensitive Data Resources

Sensitive data can be distributed via hard copy or electronic means within an office.

a) “Sensitive data” includes but is not limited to the following items, whether stored in the electronic or printed format:

  • All FERPA protected data*
  • Credit card number (in part or in whole)
  • Credit card expiration date
  • Cardholder name
  • Cardholder address
  • Social Security Number
  • Business Identification Number
  • Employer Identification Number
  • Paychecks
  • Paystubs
  • Benefit information
  • Giving information/history
  • Health information
  • Content of external grants or contracts 

b) Securing hard copy sensitive data:

  • Lock cabinets containing sensitive data when not in use or when away for extended periods of time
  • Storage rooms containing sensitive data should be locked at the end of the day or when unsupervised
  • Desks, workstations, common work areas, printers, and fax machines should be cleared of all sensitive data when not in use
  • Whiteboards, dry erase boards, writing tablets, etc. should be erased, removed, or shredded when not in use
  • Documents to be shredded should be done so immediately or locked up until shredding can occur
  • At the end of the day, all sensitive data should be in a locked drawer or cabinet

c) Securing electronic sensitive data. Please contact Information Technology if there are questions/concerns about how you are storing/sharing sensitive data electronically.

  • Refrain, when possible from storing sensitive data on your personal computer hard drive or any external personal devices. Instead, use the network drive space.
  • If storing sensitive data is required on your personal computer hard drive or an external device, encryption and password protection should be applied.
  • Engage the screensaver when the workspace is unoccupied.
  • Computer workstations should be shut down completely at end of the workday.
  • Lock laptop or external devices containing sensitive data when not in use.
  • Make certain data and/or computer work station screens are not visible to the public (e.g. - near windows, entry/exit doors, etc.)
  • If email is used to share sensitive data, encryption and/or password protection must be used. The following statement should accompany the body of the email:
  • “This message may contain confidential and/or proprietary information and is intended for the person/entity to whom it was originally addressed. Any use by others is strictly prohibited.”

*See information regarding FERPA data at and click on Academic Policies and then FERPA.

GVSU Security Framework References

  • NIST ID.GV-1; PR.AT-1; PR.AT-3; PR-AT-4; PR-AT-5

Page last modified February 16, 2022