Adherence to this standard will increase the security of systems and help safeguard UTSA information technology resources. These minimum standards exist in addition to all other university policies and federal and state regulations governing the protection of university data. Compliance with these requirements does not imply a completely secure system.


This standard supports HOP Policy 8-12 Information Resources Use and Security Policy


This standard applies to all UTSA faculty, staff, and students.


The Office of Information Security


  1. Minimum Standards
    1. This section lists the minimum standards that should be applied and enabled in Category I, II, and III data systems that are connected to the UTSA network. Standards for Category I are generally required.
    2. If products are not available from reputable commercial or reliable open source communities for a specific requirement, then the specific requirement is waived until an appropriate solution is available.
    3. Data Owners and Data Custodians, lead researchers, and/or system administrators are expected to use their professional judgment in managing risks to the information and systems they use and/or support. All security controls should be proportional to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability requirements of the data processed by the system.
  2. Backups
    PracticeCat ICat II and Cat III
    System administrators should establish and follow a procedure to carry out regular system backups.RequiredRecommended
    Backups must be verified at least monthly, either through automated verification, through customer restores, or through trial restores.RequiredRecommended
    Systems administrators must maintain documented restoration procedures for systems and the data on those systems.RequiredRecommended
  3. Change Management
    PracticeCat ICat II and Cat III
    There must be a change control process for systems configuration. This process must be documented.RequiredRecommended
    System changes should be evaluated prior to being applied in a production environment.RequiredRecommended
    Patches must be tested prior to installation in the production environment if a test environment is available.RequiredRecommended
    If a test environment is not available, the lack of patch testing should be communicated to the service subscriber or data customer, along with possible changes in the environment due to the patch.RequiredRecommended
  4. Computer Virus Protection
    PracticeCat ICat II and Cat III
    Anti-virus software must be installed and enabled.RequiredRequired
    Install and enable anti-spyware software. Installing and enabling anti-spyware software is required if the machine is used by administrators to browse Web sites not specifically related to the administration of the machine.RequiredRecommended
    Anti-virus and, if applicable, anti-spyware software should be configured to update signatures daily.RequiredRecommended
    Systems administrators should maintain and keep available a description of the standard configuration of anti-virus software.RequiredRecommended
  5.  Physical Access
    PracticeCat ICat II and Cat III
    Systems must be physically secured in racks or areas with restricted access. Portable devices shall be physically secured if left unattended.RequiredRecommended
    Backup media must be secured from unauthorized physical access. If the backup media is stored off-site, it must be encrypted or have a documented process to prevent unauthorized access. RequiredRecommended
  6. System Hardening
    PracticeCat ICat II and Cat III
    Systems must be set up in a protected network environment or by using a method that assures the system is not accessible via a potentially hostile network until it is secured. RequiredRecommended
    Operating system and application services security patches should be installed expediently and in a manner consistent with change management procedures. RequiredRequired
    If automatic notification of new patches is available, that option should be enabled. RequiredRequired
    Services, applications, and user accounts that are not being utilized should be disabled or uninstalled. RequiredRecommended
    Methods should be enabled to limit connections to services running on the host to only the authorized users of the service. Software firewalls, hardware firewalls, and service configuration are a few of the methods that may be employed. RequiredRecommended
    Services or applications running on systems manipulating Category-I data should implement secure (that is, encrypted) communications as required by confidentiality and integrity needs. RequiredRecommended
    Systems will provide secure storage for Category-I data as required by confidentiality, integrity, and availability needs. Security can be provided by means such as, but not limited to, encryption, access controls, file system audits, physically securing the storage media, or any combination thereof as deemed appropriate. RequiredRecommended
    If the operating system supports it, integrity checking of critical operating system files should be enabled and tested. Third-party tools may also be used to implement this. RequiredRecommended
    Integrity checking of system accounts, group memberships, and their associated privileges should be enabled and tested. RequiredRecommended
    The required university warning banner should be installed. RequiredRecommended
    Whenever possible, all non-removable or (re-) writable media must be configured with file systems that support access control. RequiredRecommended
    Access to non-public file system areas must require authentication. RequiredRecommended
    Strong password requirements will be enabled, as technology permits. RequiredRequired
    Apply the principle of least privilege to user, administrator, and system accounts. RequiredRecommended
  7. Security Monitoring
    PracticeCat ICat II and Cat III
    If the operating system comes with a means to log activity, enabling and testing of those controls is required. RequiredRecommended
    Operating system and service log monitoring and analysis should be performed routinely. This process should be documentedRequiredRequired
    The systems administrator must follow a documented backup strategy for security logs (for example, account management, access control, data integrity, etc.). Security logs should retain at least 14 days of relevant log information (data retention requirements for specific data should be considered). RequiredRequired
    All administrator or root access must be logged. RequiredRecommended
  8. Security Review for New Security Software and Appliances – Departments evaluating the implementation of new security software or appliances, involving Category I data, should request a security review by sending a written description of the proposed implementation to the Office of Information Security (OIS) prior to selecting vendors or products. Security reviews tend to be informal and can often be performed quickly, while ensuring that best practices are being considered.
  1. Non-compliance and Exceptions
    1. For all system administrators—if any of the minimum standards contained within this document cannot be met on systems manipulating Category I or Category II data that you support, an Exception Process must be initiated that includes reporting the non-compliance to OIS, along with a plan for risk assessment and management. Non-compliance with these standards may result in revocation of system or network access, notification of supervisors, and reporting to the Office of Internal Audit.
    2. UTSA employees are required to comply with both institutional rules and regulations and applicable UT System rules and regulations. In addition to university and System rules and regulations, UTSA employees are required to comply with state laws and regulations.
    3. Related UTSA Policies, Procedures, Best Practices and Applicable Laws
  2. The policies and practices listed here inform the system hardening procedures described in this document and with which you should be familiar. (This is not an all-inclusive list of policies and procedures that affect information technology resources.)

OIS 21 – Standard for Minimum Security for Computer Systems
Effective Date: February 5, 2013
Last Revised: August 5, 2020