AUP and Mandatory Vacation

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Companies frequently develop policies such as acceptable use policies (AUPs) and mandatory vacation rules to define and clarify issues related to personnel. Do you know the differences between an AUP and a mandatory vacation? You should if you plan to take the Security+ exam.

For example, can you answer this question?

Q. A security manager needs to identify a policy that will reduce the risk of personnel within an organization colluding to embezzle company funds. Which of the following is the BEST choice?

A. AUP

B. Training

C. Mandatory vacations

D. Time-of-day restrictions

More, do you know why the correct answer is correct and the incorrect answers are incorrect? Answer and explanation at end of this post.

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Personnel Policies

Companies frequently develop policies to specifically define and clarify issues related to personnel. This includes personnel behavior, expectations, and possible consequences. Personnel learn these policies when they are hired and as changes occur. Some of the policies directly related to personnel are acceptable use, mandatory vacations, separation of duties, job rotation, and clean desk policies.

Acceptable Use Policy and Privacy Policy

An acceptable use policy (AUP) defines proper system usage. It often describes the purpose of computer systems and networks, how users can access them, and the responsibilities of users when accessing the systems. Many organizations monitor user activities, such as what web sites they visit, and data they send out via email. The AUP typically includes statements informing users that systems are in place monitoring their activities. For example, a proxy server logs all websites that a user visits.

In some cases, the AUP might include privacy statements informing users what computer activities they can consider private. Many users have an expectation of privacy when using an organization’s computer systems and network that isn’t justified. The privacy policy statement helps to clarify the organization’s stance.

The AUP often includes definitions and examples of unacceptable use. For example, it may prohibit employees from using company resources to access peer-to-peer (P2P) sites or social media sites.

Many organizations require users to read and sign a document indicating they understand the acceptable use policy when they’re hired and in conjunction with annual security training. In many cases, organizations post the policy on an intranet site and sign it electronically. Other methods, such as logon banners or emails, help reinforce an acceptable use policy.

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Mandatory Vacation

Mandatory vacation policies help detect when employees are involved in malicious activity, such as fraud or embezzlement. As an example, employees in positions of fiscal trust, such as stock traders or bank employees, are often required to take an annual vacation of at least five consecutive workdays.

For embezzlement actions of any substantial size to succeed, an employee would need to be constantly present in order to manipulate records and respond to different inquiries. On the other hand, if an employee is forced to be absent for at least five consecutive workdays, the likelihood of any illegal actions succeeding is reduced because someone else would be required to answer the queries during the employee’s absence.

Mandatory Vacation

Mandatory vacations aren’t limited to only financial institutions, though. Many organizations require similar policies for administrators. For example, an administrator may be the only person required to perform sensitive activities such as reviewing logs. A malicious administrator can overlook or cover up certain activities revealed in the logs. However, a mandatory vacation would require someone else to perform these activities, which increases the chance of discovery.

Of course, mandatory vacations by themselves won’t prevent fraud. Most companies will implement the principle of defense in depth by using multiple layers of protection. Additional policies may include separation of duties and job rotation to provide as much protection as possible.

Remember this

Mandatory vacation policies require employees to take time away from their job. These policies help to deter fraud and discover malicious activities while the employee is away.

 


Q. A security manager needs to identify a policy that will reduce the risk of personnel within an organization colluding to embezzle company funds. Which of the following is the BEST choice?

A. AUP

B. Training

C. Mandatory vacations

D. Time-of-day restrictions

Answer is C. Mandatory vacations help to reduce the possibility of fraud and embezzlement.

An acceptable use policy informs users of company policies and even though users sign them, they don’t deter someone considering theft by embezzling funds.

Training can help reduce incidents by ensuring personnel are aware of appropriate policies.

Time-of-day restrictions prevent users from logging on during restricted times

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See Chapter 11 of the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide for more information on personnel policies.

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