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Acceptable use policy template

An Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is a document outlining rules and guidelines for using an organization's IT resources, including networks, devices, and software. It defines acceptable and prohibited behaviors, aiming to protect assets, ensure security, and maintain a productive work environment. Violations can lead to disciplinary actions.

This Acceptable Use policy template will help you craft a comprehensive document tailored to your organization’s specific needs and objectives.

What is an acceptable use policy?

An acceptable use policy established clear guidelines on the appropriate use of IT resources. Also, iit ensures that employees and stakeholders operate within a secure and productive digital environment. From data confidentiality to software licensing, this document addresses potential risks and sets clear expectations. Regularly updating this policy in line with technological advancements and regulatory changes will further enhance its effectiveness in safeguarding your organization’s assets and reputation.

An acceptable use policy should include:

  • Acceptable use
  • Prohibited use
  • System and network activities
  • Email and communication activities
  • Software and intellectual property
  • Confidentiality

Step by step instructions

Writing an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) requires a systematic approach to ensure that all necessary elements are covered and that the policy is clear, enforceable, and aligned with the organization’s goals and values. Here’s a step-by-step guide to writing an AUP:

1. Define the Purpose

Determine why you need an AUP. This could be to protect company assets, ensure a productive work environment, or comply with legal and regulatory requirements.
Clearly state the purpose at the beginning of the policy.

2. Determine the scope

Decide who the policy applies to (e.g., employees, contractors, visitors, etc.).
Specify which systems, networks, and devices are covered by the AUP.

3. Research and benchmarking

Look at AUPs from similar organizations to get an idea of industry standards.
Stay updated with relevant laws, regulations, and best practices.

4. Outline acceptable uses

Define what constitutes acceptable use of the organization’s IT resources.
Include examples where necessary for clarity.

5. Detail prohibited uses

Clearly list behaviors and actions that are not allowed.
This can include things like illegal activities, accessing inappropriate content, or using resources for personal profit.

6. Address system and network activities

Set guidelines for accessing and using the organization’s systems and networks.
Include rules about password security, unauthorized access, and software installation.

7. Set email and communication standards

Provide guidelines on appropriate email usage, including sending mass emails, content standards, and data sharing.
Address other communication tools if relevant, like instant messaging or collaboration platforms.

8. Discuss software and intellectual property

State the organization’s stance on software licensing, unauthorized software, and intellectual property rights.
Emphasize the importance of not violating copyright laws.

9. Emphasize confidentiality

Highlight the importance of protecting sensitive and confidential information.
Provide guidelines on how to handle, store, and share such information.

10. Define enforcement procedures

Detail the consequences of violating the AUP.
This can range from warnings and retraining to termination or legal action.

11. Review and revision procedures

Mention how often the AUP will be reviewed.
Outline the process for making updates or changes to the policy.

12. Obtain legal review

Before finalizing, have the AUP reviewed by legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with local, state, and federal laws.

13. Communicate and train

Once the AUP is finalized, communicate it to all relevant parties.
Provide training or informational sessions to ensure understanding and compliance.

14. Obtain acknowledgment

Have users sign or electronically acknowledge that they have read, understood, and agreed to the AUP.

15. Review and update regularly

As technology, laws, and business needs change, revisit and update the AUP as necessary.
By following these steps, you’ll create a comprehensive AUP that protects your organization and provides clear guidelines for users.

Acceptable use policy template

Acceptable use policies may differ from company to company. Here’s a template based on a hypothetical software company, called TechNova.

This Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) outlines the acceptable use of computing resources at TechNova Solutions. All employees, contractors, and affiliates are required to follow this policy when accessing and using TechNova’s network and IT resources.

Brief & purpose

The purpose of this AUP is to ensure the security, reliability, and privacy of TechNova’s IT resources and users’ data.

Scope

This policy applies to all users accessing TechNova’s IT resources, including but not limited to employees, contractors, visitors, and external partners.

Acceptable use

  • Users must use TechNova’s IT resources for business-related purposes only.
  • Personal use is permissible as long as it does not interfere with company operations or productivity.

Prohibited use

  • Users must not engage in illegal activities.
  • Users must not access, upload, or distribute offensive, threatening, or harmful content.
  • Users must not use IT resources for unauthorized commercial activities.

System and network activities

  • Users must not attempt to access data or accounts for which they do not have authorization.
  • Users must not introduce malicious software into the network.
  • Users must not perform any action that compromises the performance or security of IT resources.

Email and communication activities

  • Users must not send unsolicited email messages or spam.
  • Users must not engage in any form of harassment via email or other communication means.

Software and intellectual property

  • Users must respect all copyright and licensing agreements.
  • Users must not download, install, or use unauthorized software.

Confidentiality

  • Users must protect sensitive and confidential information.
  • Users must not disclose confidential information without proper authorization.

Enforcement

Any user found to have violated this policy may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment and legal action.

Review and revision

This AUP will be reviewed annually and may be revised as deemed necessary by TechNova’s IT department.

Agreement

By accessing and using TechNova’s IT resources, you agree to comply with this AUP and all other related policies.

Disclaimer: This policy template is meant to provide general guidelines and should be used as a reference. It may not take into account all relevant local, state or federal laws and is not a legal document. Neither the author nor Workable will assume any legal liability that may arise from the use of this policy.

Frequently asked questions

Related Company Policies

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