Acceptable Use for Computing Systems and Services


Policy Summary

The George Washington University (hereinafter, “GW” or “the University”) provides computing and network related technology and information resources (”Computing Systems and Services”) to its community to support the university’s academic and research mission as well as its business operations. The University’s Computing Systems and Services are to be used in a responsible and ethical manner and consistent with university policy and the law.   

This policy establishes the acceptable use of GW Computing Systems and Services to ensure that such resources are used for their intended purpose while respecting the rights of other computer users, the integrity of the technological infrastructure, and relevant license and contractual agreements.   

In addition, this policy applies to the use of personally-owned computers and devices that connect to the campus network, and the use of off-campus computers (e.g. computers located at a non-GW location that are being used as part of research projects and connect remotely to the university network services and information systems). 

Who is Governed by this Policy

  • All faculty, staff, students, contractors, consultants, temporary workers, and guests as well as those who represent themselves as being associated with the university and who make use of Computing Systems and Services (“Authorized Users”).  


Authorized Users must adhere to GW’s standards of academic and professional ethics, as included in GW’s codes of conduct and employee handbooks and considerate conduct in the use of Computing Systems and Services or any other computer system accessed by virtue of their affiliation with the University.  Authorized Users agree to and are bound by this policy and all other applicable rules and regulations related to appropriate legal and ethical use of Computing Systems and Services.  

The unauthorized use of Computing Systems and Services for personal or economic gain, political objectives, and any other activities that may jeopardize the University’s reputation or regulatory compliance are prohibited. 

I. Identification and Authorization

Authorized Users connected to Computing Systems and Services must be identified either through the physical location of an office computer or through an authorized university computer account.  Authorized Users should log out of shared systems and take reasonable precautions to secure access to shared office computers.

II. Research

GW researchers obtain and share information and materials electronically that derive from  a  broad  range  of  sources,  including  but  not  limited  to  organizations,  federal agencies, websites, and specialized hardware and software.  During the course of a project, GW researchers may unintentionally be at risk of exposure to malware, or other vulnerabilities, that may degrade Computing Systems and Services and put GW research information at risk for fraud, theft, or misappropriation. Researchers who are actively using Computing Systems and Services to perform research of this nature are  responsible  for  completing  all  applicable  paperwork  to  ensure that  appropriate reviews  and  approvals  are  obtained  before  project  initiation.      Timely  reporting  of planned research projects will ensure that research can be conducted unencumbered and  that  Authorized  Users  can  proceed  without  experiencing  a  degraded  state  of resource availability.

Specifically, in the case of malware research, the researcher is expected to maintain specialized  environments  for  containing  and  working  with  malware.  Malware  must not  be  allowed  to  communicate  with  systems  outside  of  the  university,  without receiving  prior  specific  approval  from  GW  IT.  Information  regarding  GW  IT’s requirements related to malware research can be made by contacting the IT Support Center.

III. Copyright and Intellectual Property

Authorized  Users  are  prohibited  from  using  Computing  Systems  and  Services  to violate the intellectual property rights of a third party.  This includes copyright, trade secrets, patent or other intellectual property rights, as well as violation of similar laws or regulations, including, but not limited to, the installation or distribution of "pirated" or other software products for which they are not appropriately licensed.

Additionally,  Authorized  Users  are  prohibited  from  using  Computing  Systems  and Services to make or use unauthorized copies of copyrighted material including, but not limited to, music, movies, television shows, books, magazines, or software for which the university or the end user does not have an active license.

GW is required to adhere to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and may report any instances  of  reported  copyright  violations  to  the  copyright  holders  and  associated trade groups upon request.

IV. Unauthorized Monitoring

Authorized Users must respect the privacy of others by refraining from inspecting, broadcasting, or modifying data without the consent of the individual or individuals involved,  except  as  permitted  as  part  of  their  employment,  and  then  only  to  the extent necessary for employment.

Authorized  Users  may  not  seek  out,  examine,  use,  modify,  or  disclose,  without authorization,  Regulated  or  Restricted  Information  that  is  not  related  to  their  job function.  Authorized  Users  are  prohibited  from  executing  any  form  of  network monitoring  to  intercept  data  unless  this  activity  is  a  part  of  the  Authorized  User's normal job/duty or pre-approved research.

V. False Identity and Misrepresentation

A  GW  UserID  is  a  unique  login  name  at  the  university.  System  roles  and  access permissions are granted through a UserID based on the Authorized User’s unique access needs and responsibilities. For this reason, Authorized Users must not share login credentials (UserID, password and security question) with anyone.

Authorized Users are responsible for any and all activity conducted with their login credentials.Authorized Users of GW e-mail or other electronic communications, such as chat or text,  shall  not  employ  a  false  identity,  nor  may  any  such  electronic  messaging  be sent  anonymously  with  the  intent  to  deceive.  This  includes  circumventing  user authentication and unauthorized use.

In addition, Authorized Users are prohibited from using GW email to conduct personal business  or  any  communication  that  is  unrelated  to  GW.  This  includes  but  is  not limited to using GW’s email format, signature and branding.

Authorized Users are prohibited from emailing Restricted and Regulated Information to  a  personal  email  account  (i.e.,  Gmail,  Outlook,  Yahoo!,  etc.)  or  to  any  external unauthorized third party.

VI. Interference

Computing Systems and Services shall not be used for purposes that cause, or could reasonably  be  expected  to  cause,  directly  or  indirectly,  excessive  strain  on  any computing  facilities  or  unwarranted/unsolicited  interference  with  others'  use  of Computing Systems and Services. Some examples of behaviors that are prohibited include: :

  • Introducing  honeypots,  honeynets,  or  similar  technology  on  the  university network that entices hostile or excessive network traffic 
  • Port scanning or security scanning is expressly prohibited unless prior approval by GW IT has been granted
  • Interfering  with  or  denying  service  to  any  Authorized  User  (for  example,  a denial of service attack)
  • Using  any program/script/command,  or  sending messages  of  any  kind,  with the intent to interfere with, or disable, an Authorized User's session, via any means, locally or via the Internet
  • Operating an unauthorized wireless access point

VII. Obscenity and Harassment

As  outlined  in  GW’s Equal Opportunity, Nondiscrimination, Anti-Harassment and Non-Retaliation Policy, Computing Systems and Services may not be used to unlawfully discriminate against  any  person  on  the  basis  of  protected  characteristics  or  any  other  basis prohibited  by  federal  law,  the  District  of  Columbia  Human  Rights  Act,  or  other applicable law.

VIII. Enforcement and Penalties

Computer  activity  may  be  monitored  by  authorized  individuals  for  purposes  of maintaining system performance and security. In instances where individuals may be  suspected  of  abuse  of  Computer  Systems  and  Services,  the  contents  of  the individuals’ user files may also be inspected by the university. 

The university expects all members of the university community to adhere to and act in accordance with this policy. If an individual is found to be in violation of this policy, the university will take disciplinary action, including the restriction and possible loss of network privileges. A serious violation could result in substantial consequences, up to and including suspension or termination from the university. Individuals are also subject to federal, state and local laws governing many interactions that occur on the Internet.  These  policies  and  laws  are  subject  to  change  as  state  and  federal  laws develop and change.

Student violations of the above policies will be handled through the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities; other violations will be referred, as appropriate, to the University Human Resources or the University Police Department.


Authorized Users: All faculty, staff, students, contractors, consultants, temporary workers, and guests as well as those who represent themselves as being associated with the university and who make use of university computing systems and services.

Computing Systems and Services: Any equipment owned, operated or contracted by the university that is used in the acquisition, storage, manipulation, management, movement,  control,  display,  switching,  interchange,  transmission,  or  reception  of data  or  information  electronically or  via  cloud-based  systems,  including  printers, storage devices, computers, computer equipment, network equipment and systems and phone equipment and systems; and includes  desktops, laptops, mobile phones, tablets, voice-over-internet protocol devices (VOIP), USB drives and other removable media, copiers, and the software that  accesses, views, processes, transmits, stores or disposes of GW digital information.

For Definitions of Public Information and Non-Public Information (Regulated Information and Restricted Information) and guidance, please refer to the policy, Personal Information and Privacy.

Related Information

Code of Student Conduct

Information Security Policy

Faculty Handbook

Copyright Policy

Statement of Ethical Principles


Contact Phone Number Email Address
IT Support Center (ITSC) 202-994-4948 [email protected]


Responsible University Official: Chief Information Officer
Responsible Office: GW Information Technology


Non-compliance with this policy can be reported through this website.