Physical Security

Physical security refers to practices that protect devices, digital information, printed information, and physical locations from unauthorized access, theft, damage, or disruption.


Why Is Physical Security Important?

Physical security safeguards information from unauthorized access, theft, loss, or damage. It ensures that tangible assets such as computers, storage devices, paperwork, and data centers are protected, preventing potential breaches and preserving the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of valuable data.

How Can I Practice Physical Security?

For Devices:

  • Keep laptop computers and mobile devices with you at all times, especially in public places, or lock them up securely before you step away -- even just for a second. Remember: phones, tablets, and laptops get stolen from cars, homes, and offices all the time.
  • Make sure devices are securely fastened to a permanent fixture or locked inside a case or cabinet when not in use.

For Digital Information:

  • Shield your device so others can't see sensitive information on the screen or passwords as you type them in. If you show your screen to others, make sure it doesn’t have anything sensitive or revealing on it that unauthorized individuals should not see.
  • Securely delete all contents of computers and mobile devices before discarding, exchanging, selling, or donating them. ITS offers secure disposal and destruction services for university devices and sensitive data.

For Printed Information:

  • Don’t leave sensitive information lying around, including on printers, fax machines, or copiers.
  • Don't print P3-P4 data, including screenshots.
  • Use a paper shredder or secure shred bin when throwing out personal or sensitive information.
  • Store paper documents that include P3-P4 data in a locked filing system.

For Physical Locations:

  • Secure your environment before leaving. Lock windows and doors; take keys out of drawers.
  • Never share your access code, card, or key. Don't hold secure doors open for people you don't know.
  • Offer to assist people who are in areas where they may not belong.

In Case of Theft or Loss:

  • Report lost or stolen devices to the police. If the device contains sensitive UC Santa Cruz information or passwords, also report it to the ITS Support Center.
  • Immediately change all passwords used or stored on the device.
  • See the Protecting Mobile Devices page for information about prevention in case of theft or loss, and a checklist for lost or stolen mobile devices.

Back to "How to Stay Secure"