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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Network Usage Policy
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United States Department of Agriculture


  Research, Education, and Economics

  Agricultural Research Service 


August 31, 2010



SUBJECT:  Mid South Area Network

          Usage Policy for 2010


     TO:  All Employees

          Mid South Area


THROUGH:  Archie Tucker

          Deputy Area Director

          Mid South Area


   FROM:  /s/Hilda Roberts

          Information Technology Specialist

          Mid South Area



Please take the time to read the revised ARS Policy & Procedures 253.4.  Original memo was dated August 3, 2004, with revisions dated March 26, 2008, February 19, 2009, and November 30, 2009. 


  • Sharing any work-related ID and/or password is prohibited; your work-related ID(s) and password(s) are covered under the Privacy Act.


  • Government-owned laptops that are not connected to scientific equipment must be configured for Whole Disk Encryption. 


  • Network connected computers and laptops must be configured to automatically download and install Windows updates (Operating System/Applications) and virus signatures and must have PatchLink and BIGFix software installed. Currently, computers attached to scientific equipment are exempt from PatchLink and BIGFix.


  • Whole Disk Encryption must be installed and configured on all laptops and other portable computers.  Currently, this applies to all laptops in ARS unless they are attached to scientific equipment.  However, exempt status does not absolve the property holder from ensuring that all supported security updates and virus signature updates are in place on computers and laptops attached to scientific equipment.


  • Updates for applications such as ADOBE, JAVA, FlashPlayer, and other required services must be installed when provided by the software vendor.


  • Streaming video and audio not related to work are prohibited.  Streaming traffic abusers may be identified and may lose network access.


  • Installing unauthorized software (non-government – non-work or non-mission related) is not permitted.


  • Instant messaging, including, but not limited to, Windows Messenger, chat rooms, social networks (Face Book, MySpace, etc.) is not permitted. 


  • Use of e-mail other than Agency provided Microsoft Outlook e-mail is not permitted.  This includes ALL other e-mail systems such as, but not limited to, Gmail, Yahoo mail, Hotmail, Netscape mail, and any other web-based and/or browser-based e-mail.


  • All peer-to-peer file sharing software including, but not limited to, Skype (IP Telephony), Kazza, Morpheus, Limewire, BearShare, eDonkey, BitTorrent, or other BitTorrent clients, Mactella, etc., is strictly prohibited. 


  • Use of personal devices (USB drives, external hard drives) is prohibited and should not be used on government-owned computers or laptops.


  • Use of government-owned devices (USB drives, external hard drives) is prohibited on home computers or personally-owned laptops.                                            


  • The use of laptops (portable) computers on non-government networks (hotels, airports, restaurants) adds additional security risks.  Any laptop (portable) computer used on a non-government network must have a full virus scan and up-to-date virus signature before it may be used on a government network.   


  • E-mail and Internet are to be used in accordance with ARS policy 253.4.  Do not use government provided e-mail and Internet services for entering contests, obtaining free goods, gaming, or for anything that could be construed as personal gain.


  • Read and understand privacy policies before putting your  e-mail address in the hands of potential spammers.  Excessive amounts of non business e-mail may result in having your Internet e-mail address changed or restricted.


  • Modems (for use) in computers attached to the network are not permitted.


  • Unauthorized wireless access points are not allowed. 


  • An employee’s supervisor is contacted when ARS Internet policy is abused. Actions for non-compliance of Internet policy may result in termination of network access and has been known to result in termination of employment.


  • A Windows password is required on all desktop computers and laptops that connect to the network.


We are willing to discuss these policies and make reasonable accommodations if you have a business reason that requires use of any service(s) that is not authorized or that is not permitted.







Last Modified: 12/21/2011