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Why does my computer lock if I'm away from my desk for a few minutes?

Staff computers at Sussex are being configured to lock automatically if they've been inactive for ten minutes.

The University has a responsibility to protect its data and systems and this is a reasonable measure to prevent unauthorised access. It's common practice in universities and other professional environments and is being introduced to staff computers at Sussex.

Ideally, we should all be in the habit of locking our computers even if we're going to be away from our desk for a short time. But the automatic lock is an additional safeguard so if we do forget, or if we're away for longer than intended, the University's systems are still protected.

It only takes a moment to unlock
  • Windows: hold down Ctrl+Alt+Del, type your password and enter
  • Mac: move the mouse cursor or press a key to see the password prompt

Lectern PCs in seminar rooms and lecture theatres will be excluded from the automatic lock to prevent disruption during teaching and student PCs in cluster rooms and open plan areas such as the Library are already protected in a different way (users are automatically logged out after a short period of inactivity).

The automatic lock will also be prevented from taking effect in circumstances where it could be disruptive, for example if you are:

  • using PowerPoint for a presentation in slideshow mode
  • viewing a YouTube video through Chrome
  • watching a DVD with Windows media player            
  • making a Skype call

The policy will be introduced in professional services areas initially and later to staff computers in Schools but please contact us if you have any questions about the policy or would like more details.

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This is question number 2713, which appears in the following categories:

Created by David Guest on 4 March 2015 and last updated by Sandy Radford on 13 September 2016