2. An Introduction to Data Security

The following is a very brief outline of some of the issues relating to data security and services offered by OUCS relating to these issues.

Guarding the integrity and security of data falls into two categories:
  • Looking after the hardware it resides on,
  • Protecting the data from software corruption and malicious attacks.

2.1. Looking After the Hardware

Normally a new machine will be under warranty for a year after the date of purchase. After this warranty expires any hardware repairs are likely to be costly, (parts can be expensive and generally a company offering a repair service will charge labour costs at approximately 50.00 an hour). Many of the companies selling computer systems offer extended warranty schemes which may be worth considering after careful investigation.

The University Computing Services offers a very economically priced maintenance service for the repair of hardware faults on IBM compatible PC and Apple Macintosh personal computers, as well as their peripherals. It is available to University Institutions, Colleges and to University members on a personal basis for their privately owned equipment. Essentially, for a modest fixed fee, the service provides for an engineer to visit on-site within 8 working hours of a fault being reported. The fault should be fixed within a further 8 working hours, or an equivalent item of equipment will be offered as a loan until the repair is completed. Equipment must be in full working order when it is registered with the service. A full description of the OUCS PC Maintenance Service is given on the Web page.

It is recommended that this is read for a full understanding of the service.

Students and staff can register their personal IT equipment on this service, and pay online via the web interface at https://maint.oucs.ox.ac.uk/private/. Departmental and College staff can register institutionally owned IT equipment on this service via the web interface at https://maint.oucs.ox.ac.uk/acct/. Payment is made by specifying a departmental or college purchase order.

If your computer or printer is already faulty, you should contact an appropriate dealer to arrange a repair.

2.2. Looking After the Data

There are three basic ways of ensuring that, even if the hardware fails, you will still be able to access your data:
  • Back up all data that is important to you. This is the most important step in securing your data. Keep more than one copy. Ensure that the back up data is free from corruption.
  • Run anti-virus software. Keep the software up-to-date. Test your hard disk, floppies and all back ups regularly.
  • Where you are dealing with sensitive data, which falls under the Data Protection Act, ensure that the data is password protected/encrypted and not readily available to malicious abuse.

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