The Department employs skilled and trained Information Technology (IT) staff. This IT staff is charged with providing a safe and reliable computing environment for all members of the Department. They are available to assist in all facets of computing needs and can provide referrals to other services provided by the College or University when necessary. Users are encouraged to consult with IT staff for proper system configuration before purchasing any computing equipment. Users are also encouraged to allow IT staff to manage their systems. They can provide highly reliable backed up file services, automated OS updates and virus protection, and monitoring of system status.
All computer and network users at the University are governed by the "Acceptable Use of Information Systems at Virginia Tech" policy document. In addition, any computer equipment owned directly or indirectly by the Department which accesses the campus network, or any computer accessing the campus network through that portion of the network that the Department is responsible for, must meet certain minimum standards to maintain a safe and reliable computing environment. Failure to follow these policies without express consent of the IT staff and/or Department Head may result in the loss of the privilege to connect to the campus network.
- Systems attached to the campus network must run a securable operating system such as Microsoft Windows or UNIX variants (including Mac OSX), and be kept up to date with patches and/or service packs. Systems which are not kept up to date are an easy target for compromise and use by unauthorized individuals.
- Anti-virus software (where applicable) must be installed and kept up to date on any network attached system. Infection of a system by a virus, trojan, or worm can degrade or eliminate network performance, destroy data, and/or provide access to unauthorized individuals or automated programs. Anti-virus software is provided at no charge by the University. Updates are also free and can be installed automatically by coordinating with IT staff.
- No server or peer-to-peer software such as, but not limited to, web servers, ftp servers, or file sharing/exchange software will be run on systems attached to the network. This common practice is a leading cause of system compromise. Server software must be carefully configured, maintained, and monitored to be kept secure. The Department already has servers that are dedicated to many of these tasks and are available to those who need them.
- No games or personal software should be installed on systems attached to the network. Be aware that many packages, such as screensavers, file sharing software, and shareware install software which monitors its use and connects to other sites without the user's knowledge. This software can degrade the performance of the computer that it is installed on, degrade the performance of the network it is attached to, and in some cases provide unauthorized access to outsiders.
- The department's IT staff reserve the right to shut off the network connection for any computer connected to the department's portion of the network that is causing problems or is in violation of the above policies. In extreme cases, computer systems may be subject to confiscation by IT staff upon notification of the Department Head. Although all efforts are made to respect individual privacy, be aware that any file, including email, that resides on state owned equipment is the property of the state. All systems attached to the department network are subject to random scans by IT staff to ensure compliance with the above policies.