Cloud Computing Policy

Scope:

This policy applies to all persons accessing and using 3rd party services capable of storing or transmitting protected or sensitive electronic data that is owned or leased by the University of Detroit Mercy, all consultants or agents of the University of Detroit Mercy, and any parties who are contractually bound to handle data produced by the University of Detroit Mercy, and in accordance with University contractual agreements and obligations.

Purpose:

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that Detroit Mercy Protected or Detroit Mercy Sensitive data is not inappropriately stored or shared using public cloud computing and/or file-sharing services. Cloud computing and file sharing, for this purpose, is defined as the utilization of servers or information technology hosting of any type that is not controlled by or associated with, the University of Detroit Mercy for services such as, but not limited to, social networking applications (i.e. all social media, blogs, and wikis), file storage (see Listing of Cloud Storage Services in Appendix), and content hosting (publishers textbook add-ons).  Acceptable and unacceptable cloud storage services are listed in the appendix.  All other cloud services are approved on a case-by-case basis.

Reason for Policy:

This policy endorses the use of cloud services for file storing and sharing 1) with vendors who can provide appropriate levels of protection and recovery for University information, and 2) with explicit restrictions on the storage of University Protected Information.  While cloud storage of files can expedite collaboration, and sharing of information anytime, anywhere, and with anyone, there are some guidelines that should be in place for the kind and type of university information that is appropriate for storing and sharing using these services.  Even with personal use, one should be aware of the level of protection available for your data using such a cloud service.

Federal and State laws and regulations place a premium on institutions’ ability to understand the risks of IT services and systems and make appropriate determinations about risk tolerance.  Some cloud providers, for instance, might mine data for marketing purposes. Covered laws and regulations are listed in the Information Classification section of the Acceptable Use & Security Policy.

There are a number of information security and data privacy concerns about the use of cloud computing services at the University. They include:  

  • University no longer protects or controls its data, leading to a loss of security, lessened security, or inability to comply with various regulations and data protection laws Loss of privacy of data, potentially due to aggregation with data from other cloud consumers.
  • University dependency on a third party for critical infrastructure and data handling processes
  • Potential security and technological defects in the infrastructure provided by a cloud vendor.
  • University has limited-service level agreements for a vendor’s services and the third parties that a cloud vendor might contract with
  • University is reliant on vendor’s services for the security of some academic and administrative computing infrastructure.

Policy:

The following table outlines the data classification and proper handling of Detroit Mercy data.

Data Classification

Cloud Storage

(See appendix for approved services)

Titan Net Drive

(Username and Password Required)

Local Storage

Detroit Mercy Protected

Allowed

Provided appropriate account controls are in place (MFA).

Allowed

No special requirements, subject to any applicable laws

Not Allowed

Detroit Mercy Sensitive

Allowed but Not Advised

Requires Dept. Manager approval

Allowed

No special requirements, subject to any applicable laws

Allowed but Not Advised

Requires Dept. Manager approval

Detroit Mercy Public

Allowed

No special requirements

Allowed

No special requirements

Allowed

No special requirements

The use of University servers, where Titan Net authentication is required, is the best place to store all categories of Detroit Mercy data, particularly Detroit Mercy Protected data. Detroit Mercy Protected Data can be stored on the University of Detroit Mercy instance of OneDrive provided access to the data is protected by Multi-Factor Authentication and sharing is set for “People in University of Detroit Mercy with the link.” It is never acceptable to store Detroit Mercy Protected data on any other cloud service.  This includes data such as grades, social security numbers, private correspondence, classified research, etc.

Definitions:

Detroit Mercy Protected Data - Any data that contains personally identifiable information concerning any individual and is regulated by local, state, or federal privacy regulations.

Detroit Mercy Sensitive Data - Any data that is not classified as Detroit Mercy Protected Data, but which is information that Detroit Mercy would not distribute to the general public.

Detroit Mercy Public Data - Any data that Detroit Mercy is comfortable distributing to the general public.

General Data Protection Terms:

The University must specify particular data protection terms in a contract with a cloud-computing vendor. In this way, the University creates a minimum level of security for University data. A minimum level of security ensures that the University's data is kept confidential, is not changed inappropriately, and is available to the University as needed.

The University should consider the following contract terms to ensure a minimum level of information security protection: 

  • Data transmission and encryption requirements
  • Authentication and authorization mechanisms
  • Intrusion detection and prevention mechanisms
  • Logging and log review requirements
  • Security scan and audit requirements
  • Security training and awareness requirements

Compliance with Legal and Regulatory Requirements:

The University has many federal laws that it must follow, these include the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA).   

State laws may also affect a relationship with a cloud-computing vendor. For instance, Michigan law requires that the University must follow rules about disclosing Social Security Numbers as well as specific security breach notification procedures

NOTE: A relationship with a cloud-computing vendor may also be impacted by private industry regulations. For example, departments at the University that accept credit cards also must follow the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) issued by the major credit card companies. Finally, cloud-computing services that use, store, or process University data must also follow applicable University policies. 

Exit Strategy:

Cloud services should not be engaged without developing an exit strategy for disengaging from the vendor or service and integrating the service into business continuity and disaster recovery plans.  The University must determine how data would be recovered from the vendor.

Policy Adherence:

Failure to follow this policy can result in disciplinary action as provided in the Student Handbook and Employee Policies & Procedures. Disciplinary action for not following this policy may include termination, as provided in the applicable handbook or employment guide.

Related Documents:

Acceptable Use & Security Policy

Electronic Security of Detroit Mercy Protected & Detroit Mercy Sensitive Data Policy

Appendix:

Listing of Cloud Storage Services

This listing is meant to serve only as a partial list of cloud storage services. Any cloud storage service not explicitly listed as approved should be assumed to be not approved.

Services Approved for University Use

Services Not Approved for University Use

Microsoft OneDrive (Detroit Mercy Account using Multi-Factor Authentication only)

Dropbox

 

 

iCloud

 

Microsoft OneDrive (Personal Account)

 

Amazon Cloud Drive

 

Google Drive

 

Box

Individuals who use Detroit Mercy OneDrive accounts for university work are responsible for ensuring that Detroit Mercy Sensitive information is not placed or stored in unapproved or inappropriate locations. When using OneDrive for institutional information, use it only for institutional information classified as Detroit Mercy Public or Detroit Mercy Sensitive. Pay special attention to access levels when sharing files and folders with other collaborators to ensure that data is not inappropriately shared.  You should not use your Detroit Mercy OneDrive account to collect, process, or store data covered by laws such as HIPAA, FERPA, FISMA, GLBA. This does not include limited research datasets or fully de-identified information as related to the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

Contractual Expectations

The University will seek and endorse vendors who deliver solutions that meet the following requirements.

Both the University and cloud-computing vendor must declare the type of data that they might transfer back and forth because of their relationship. A contract must have clear terms that define the data owned by each party. The parties also must clearly define data that must be protected.

The contract must specifically state what data the University owns. It must also classify the type of data shared in the contract according to the University’s classification schema: Public, Sensitive, or Protected. Departments must exercise caution when sharing University-classified sensitive or protected data within a cloud computing service.

The contract must specify how the cloud-computing vendor can use University data. Vendors cannot use University data in any way that violates the law or University policies.

Any contractual agreement for cloud services should specify that the datastore must be located in onshore locations that are within the boundaries of the United States.

Questions about this policy:

If you have questions about this policy, please contact ITS at its@udmercy.edu.

History:

June 1, 2021: Initial Policy