Best Practices for Protecting Information When Using Personal Devices for Work Purposes

When using your own device for work purposes there can be blurred lines between personal and professional life. It is important to take extra precautions when using a personal device (smartphone, tablet, computer, etc.) for work purposes, to ensure institutional and personal information is safeguarded.

UNB’s Information Classification Standard applies to information within the custody or control of UNB. Business information and/or university records stored on your personal device are still under the control of UNB; therefore, you must adhere to the Information Classification Standard when handling data and information. 

Below are some best practices for safeguarding information when using a personal device for work purposes.

Inform your supervisor

Inform your supervisor that you would like to use your personal device for work purposes and the reason(s) it is necessary. Let them know the number of and types of devices you have and how you will be using them so they can understand where University records and information may be located. (i.e. I will use my android smartphone to respond to work e-mail using the outlook app, use the Teams app to participate in chats/meetings. I will use my home computer to sign into the VPN and work on documents saved in O365, etc.).

Keep your device safe

Ensure your personal device is safe by adopting practices to keep your device and data safe.  Ensure that your operating system is up to date with the latest patches/updates and update antivirus software to protect your device from malicious software and viruses.

Use the UNB VPN

Do not connect to unsecure wi-fi networks when handling information that is in the custody of or under the control of UNB. Always connect to the UNB VPN to have secure access to the UNB network over the internet.

Have a virtual 'clean desk policy'

If possible, do not allow other people to use your personal device. However, if the device is shared with other members of your family, such as a home desktop computer, ensure the browser history is regularly deleted, remove cookies and clear the cache when you have finished working on it. Think twice before you ‘favourite’ or ‘bookmark’ pages related to your work on a personal device.

Consider your surrounding while working on a personal device

When working remotely (from home on your home computer, or on your personal laptop or smartphone in a more public location) check your surroundings to ensure others cannot see your work product on your device. Take note of who is in the same room as you while you are typing up a confidential document, while you are participating on a Teams video chat, or who could be hearing information. Take precautions to ensure conversations are not overheard by those who are not entitled to the information.

Saving UNB records and documents

  • Do not save work documents on the hard drive of your personal device where another family member could happen upon them. Log into your UNB account and save documents on the UNB network, your UNB OneDrive or on a UNB SharePoint site.
  • Only use UNB approved third-party apps and products to store, edit or transfer UNB documents/records. All third-party apps must be vetted by ITS to ensure security requirements are met, and reviewed by the Records Management & Privacy Office to ensure appropriate agreements are in place and there are no privacy concerns related to the product.
  • Use UNB e-mail for UNB business. Using a personal email accounts (e.g. Gmail, Hotmail, etc) to conduct UNB business may result in institutional information and personal information stored in locations that may not meet UNB security requirements, and with vendors that do not have formal agreements with UNB.

Scanning documents and taking photos

If you use your personal device’s camera to take a picture of a document in lieu of having a scanner, unsync your phone from the cloud storage service (e.g. iCloud) prior to taking the photo. Delete the picture from your personal device’s storage memory once the photo has been sent to the correct person or uploaded to the proper storage location. If you will be scanning documents on a regular basis consider asking your supervisor to purchase a work scanner/printer to use while working from home.

Right to Information

University records residing on your personal device are still subject to right to information requests. Do not use your personal smartphone to text information that is part of a University Record; if you do the whole conversation string may need to be produced. Always write with disclosure in mind and use your UNB email to conduct UNB business.