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Information Technology InfoGuide: Privacy


Your privacy, security and Personally Identifiable Information

As the variety of Internet offerings have expanded at a furious rate, Internet users have not kept their security and privacy practices in sync with the new technologies.

Always assume that any website from Facebook to Sears is collecting information about you, possibly (legally?) sharing it with others for their benefit, not yours.  

Southwestern University is concerned about your privacy and the security of information stored on our computer systems. While the University keeps the doors and windows shut, you are ultimately in control of information about you. If you leave your social security number, scrawled on a piece of paper, in a public plus you are responsible. Your SSN is but one of many pieces of “personally identifiable information” (PII) that you should protect. Obvious PII that you should protect are credit cards, drivers license numbers, birthdays, phone numbers, addresses, usernames and passwords, retail store account numbers and many more. It’s a long list.  Southwestern University ITS or any department on campus will never ask for a username and password in an email. 

The ability of businesses and hackers to collect data from diverse sources and build a sensitive profile of you and your practices is unparalled in history. The latest big thing is location tracking via smart phones. Using location information transmitted by your cell phone over time, a “day in the life of” profile can be constructed. It will show where you live, where you shop, where you work, where you party — and the times of day that these things happen and how much time you spend doing them. A benign use of this information might be to tailor special offers for products or services that are on the routes that you routinely follow. A less benign use would be to know where you are and when for criminal purposes.

For those who know of or remember the “X Files,” a television show that ran from 1993 to 2002, and the movie of the same name in 1998, might remember one of the more memorable quote. Though it is a bit cynical, it is perfectly appropriate when navigating the Internet.

“Trust no one, Mr. Mulder.”

Links to various publications related to security and privacy may be found below.

Again, we can not stress this enough, Southwestern University ITS or any department on campus will never ask for a username and password in an email. 

Phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as user names,passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. 

Phishing is typically carried out by e-mail or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter details at a fake website whose look and  feel are almost identical to the legitimate one.  Again, Southwestern will never ask that you reply to any email requesting that sort of information.  Please be vigilant.


Things to Know about Privacy

First Year Student Perception of Privacy

Think Your SSN is Secure? Think Again



SLC Research Commons