Working safely with IT at the UGent

The advice on this page helps UGent students to correctly and securely deal with the IT resources and data they use for their studies, both inside the UGent buildings and network, and outside.

Note: IT security at UGent is constantly evolving, so these advices are still being updated.

Working safely with UGent IT resources and data is important for every student. Not only to be able to carry out their own study-related activities correctly and safely, but also because local IT security problems can have serious negative consequences for other UGent staff members and the university's entire IT infrastructure.

We distinguish between:

Risk management

You yourself always bear an important co-responsibility for handling UGent information securely. Therefore, think about the risk content of the data you work with, especially if you work with personal data or other confidential information, for example in a project for your master's thesis. Even if you are working with applications managed by DICT, it is necessary to use common sense to assess possible risks. Depending on the risk content of the data, additional technical measures such as encryption of the data may still be appropriate.

If in doubt, seek advice, for example from your study supervisor, from a local IT administrator in your area, or from DICT's IT specialists (via the DICT helpdesk).


Inform the DICT helpdesk as soon as possible if you suspect that your account or device has been hacked or any other IT security incident, and follow the instructions you are given.

Also inform the DICT helpdesk as soon as possible if a data breach is suspected, in which personal data or other confidential information or other important data may have fallen into the wrong hands.

Take care of your UGent account

Take care of your UGent account and your login and multifactor authentication (MFA) details.

DICT actively tracks suspicious login activity and takes measures to prevent or stop hacking of UGent accounts and devices. You may be asked to change your UGent password. In the event of sufficiently serious indications, DICT may also temporarily block your UGent account. You will be informed to the extent possible.

So be sure that your private e-mail address, registered in Oasis, is up to date and that its account is also sufficiently secured (e.g. with MFA).

Work on a well-secured device

By student BYOD devices, we primarily mean the laptops students use for their studies. Other examples include the personal smartphone or tablet, or a desktop at home. Generally, all these devices are also used for private activities, i.e. for personal or recreational purposes.

The responsibility for the security of such a BYOD device is entirely in the hands of the student. As a student, be well aware of the risks that BYOD devices can pose: a hacker can monitor all activities on an insufficiently secured device infected with malware, and can capture sensitive information without you even noticing. Your UGent account is also compromised in such a situation and can be misused on other UGent devices and UGent IT services. The hacker could possibly even further abuse your device to attack the entire UGent IT infrastructure.

Minimum security measures you should take on your BYOD device:

Work via a reliable network

On the UGent campuses, you work on UGentNet, the IT network managed by DICT, via a WiFi connection with Eduroam.

Off campus, you use a network that is not managed by DICT (a home network, mobile internet connection, etc.). Be careful when working via a public WiFi hotspot or any other unknown network. Hackers can intercept and abuse data traffic over an insufficiently secured network quite easily. When in doubt, set up a UGent VPN connection.

With a UGent VPN ("Virtual Private Network") connection, your device is (virtually) in the UGentNet via a secure (encrypted) channel.

Stay alert and be sufficiently aware of common IT security risks

Use the data storage service offered by DICT

DICT recommends using the data storage service offered by DICT for your study-related activities. The security and availability of data on the central infrastructure is guaranteed by DICT's specialists. Besides protection against unwanted access, data is also protected against unwanted change or loss through various back-up scenarios.

Keep your data management in order and, for your well-defined use-case, make correct use of the various options DICT supports: OneDrive-for-Business, central storage (with personal disk space and shares), HPC storage, … Avoid working with local copies of data that are only stored locally on a device (desktop or laptop).

If, exceptionally, you do work with a device that is not under your own or DICT's control, ensure that no local copies of important data end up on such a device, and certainly no personal or confidential information.

Use software offered and supported by DICT

DICT ensures the security and regulatory compliance (e.g. licensing conditions, protection of personal data under AVG/GDPR, etc.) of all software it offers. DICT recommends working with the applications offered and supported by DICT, both the cloud applications such as UFora, Microsoft 365, Sharepoint online and Teams, and the applications hosted within the UGent data centres (e.g. OASIS, Athena,...).

Install other software yourself

Personal data and confidential info on cloud services

Do not store confidential information on cloud services with data storage outside the EEA (i.e. the EU, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland).

Personal data should also not be stored on cloud services with data storage outside the EEA, unless it has at least been pseudonymised in a secure and reliable manner. If pseudonymisation is not possible, the data must be securely encrypted beforehand. If the data is pseudonymised beforehand, the key file may not be stored on a cloud service with data storage outside the EEA, unless that key file has been securely encrypted beforehand.

For Microsoft 365 (OneDrive-for-Business included), UGent has the guarantee that the data is stored within the EU. DICT therefore recommends Microsoft 365 for the processing of study-related personal data and confidential information at UGent.