See Acceptable Use Policy template below.
Most businesses use a computer or other electronic device for at least part of their day-to-day business or to store important data. For these businesses, it is very important to create an acceptable use policy as one of the keystones for your information security protocol.
What is an acceptable use policy? Essentially, this document lays out the ground rules for how a specific network, website, or system can be used. These specifications are put in place to protect the company from being liable for improper use, and to ensure that their information remains as secure as possible.
Many acceptable use policies contain several sections. Firstly, acceptable use policies often state why the organization uses internet connections, and the benefits of using a network connection for their work. Then, most policies state that by using that network a user takes personal responsibility for their online actions.
As well, a code of conduct is outlined that clearly states what a user should and should not do while connected to the network. These guidelines may include statements about using polite language, not participating in illegal or offensive activities, following security guidelines, and using caution when inputting sensitive information. Lastly, acceptable use policies generally end with the consequences that will occur if the policy is violated.
By creating and enforcing an acceptable use policy, your business is able to clearly stipulate the uses and behaviors acceptable on your network. This is ideal for ensuring that your employees do not abuse their network privileges. Or, in a worst case scenario, should a condition of the acceptable use policy be broken, you have a pre-established document outlining the individual’s responsibility for the act and the agreed-upon consequences.
As you can see, acceptable use policies are incredibly important documents for any business that uses computers or network access for any part of their business. When creating one for your business, it may be a good idea to follow a pre-made template. Further, you want to make sure that you don’t miss any key components that are essential for your industry, employees, and security needs. Review your acceptable use policy with your IT professional and with your attorney to guarantee that you are implementing a policy that is the best fit for you.
If you need an Acceptable use policy for your company, please use the template below!
_________ intentions for publishing an Acceptable Use Policy are not to impose restrictions that
are contrary to <Company Name>’s established culture of openness, trust and integrity. _________
is committed to protecting <Company Name>’s employees, partners and the company 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 providing electronic mail, WWW
browsing, and FTP, are the property of <Company Name>. These systems are to be used for
business purposes in serving the interests of the company, and of our clients and customers in the
course of normal operations. Please review Human Resources policies for further details.
Effective security is a team effort involving the participation and support of every <Company
Name> employee and affiliate who deals with information and/or information systems. It is the
responsibility of every computer user to know these guidelines, and to conduct their activities
The purpose of this policy is to outline the acceptable use of computer equipment at <Company
Name>. These rules are in place to protect the employee and <Company Name>. Inappropriate
use exposes <Company Name> to risks including virus attacks, compromise of network systems
and services, and legal issues.
This policy applies to the use of information, electronic and computing devices, and network
resources to conduct <Company Name> business or interact with internal networks and business
systems, whether owned or leased by <Company Name>, the employee, or a third party. All
employees, contractors, consultants, temporary, and other workers at <Company Name> and its
subsidiaries are responsible for exercising good judgment regarding appropriate use of
information, electronic devices, and network resources in accordance with <Company Name>
policies and standards, and local laws and regulation. Exceptions to this policy are documented
in section 5.2
This policy applies to employees, contractors, consultants, temporaries, and other workers at
<Company Name>, including all personnel affiliated with third parties. This policy applies to all
equipment that is owned or leased by <Company Name>.
4.1 General Use and Ownership
4.1.1 <Company Name> proprietary information stored on electronic and computing devices
whether owned or leased by <Company Name>, the employee or a third party, remains
the sole property of <Company Name>. You must ensure through legal or technical
means that proprietary information is protected in accordance with the Data Protection
4.1.2 You have a responsibility to promptly report the theft, loss or unauthorized disclosure of
<Company Name> proprietary information.
4.1.3 You may access, use or share <Company Name> proprietary information only to the
extent it is authorized and necessary to fulfill your assigned job duties.
4.1.4 Employees are responsible for exercising good judgment regarding the reasonableness of
personal use. Individual departments are responsible for creating guidelines concerning
personal use of Internet/Intranet/Extranet systems. In the absence of such policies,
employees should be guided by departmental policies on personal use, and if there is any
uncertainty, employees should consult their supervisor or manager.
4.1.5 For security and network maintenance purposes, authorized individuals within
<Company Name> may monitor equipment, systems and network traffic at any time, per
4.1.6 <Company Name> 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
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 <Company Name> email address to newsgroups should
contain a disclaimer stating that the opinions expressed are strictly their own and not
necessarily those of <Company Name>, 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
Under no circumstances is an employee of <Company Name> authorized to engage in any
activity that is illegal under local, state, federal or international law while utilizing <Company
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 <Company Name>.
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 <Company
Name> 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 <Company
Name> 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 <Company Name> 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 <Company
9. Making statements about warranty, expressly or implied, unless it is a part of normal job
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
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 <Company Name>
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
17. Providing information about, or lists of, <Company Name> employees to parties outside
4.3.2 Email and Communication Activities
When using company 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
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 <Company Name>’s networks of other
Internet/Intranet/Extranet service providers on behalf of, or to advertise, any service
hosted by <Company Name> or connected via <Company Name>’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 <Company Name>’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 <Company Name>’s systems to engage in
blogging is acceptable, provided that it is done in a professional and responsible manner,
does not otherwise violate <Company Name>’s policy, is not detrimental to <Company
Name>’s best interests, and does not interfere with an employee’s regular work duties.
Blogging from <Company Name>’s systems is also subject to monitoring.
2. <Company Name>’s Confidential Information policy also applies to blogging. As such,
Employees are prohibited from revealing any <Company> confidential or proprietary
information, trade secrets or any other material covered by <Company>’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 <Company Name> 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 <Company
Name>’s Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment policy.
4. Employees may also not attribute personal statements, opinions or beliefs to <Company
Name> 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 <Company Name>. 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, <Company Name>’s trademarks, logos and any other
<Company Name> intellectual property may also not be used in connection with any
5. Policy Compliance
5.1 Compliance Measurement
The __________ team will verify compliance to this policy through various methods, including but
not limited to, business tool reports, internal and external audits, and feedback to the policy
Any exception to the policy must be approved by the __________team in advance.
An employee found to have violated this policy may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and
including termination of employment.