Minimum Security Standards for Networked Devices - Draft

This is a working draft of a proposed update to UC Berkeley’s Minimum Security Standards for Networked Devices (MSSND). This update incorporates elements from UC’s systemwide Information Security Policy, IS-3, and brings the Standards into alignment with current industry best practices. This draft is currently undergoing campus review. The old MSSND is still in effect while this update is under review. 


The UC Berkeley Minimum Security Standards for Networked Devices (MSSND) are issued under the authority vested in the UC Berkeley Chief Information Officer by the UC Business and Finance Bulletin IS-3 Electronic Information Security (UC BFB IS-3).

Responsible Executive: Associate Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer

Responsible Office: Information Security Office

Contact: Information Security Policy Manager,

I. Introduction

A. Summary

Compliance with the UC Berkeley Minimum Security Standards for Networked Devices (MSSND) helps protect not only the individual device but also other devices connected through the UC Berkeley network and cloud services. The standard is intended to prevent exploitation of Campus resources by unauthorized individuals, including the use of Campus resources to attack other systems on the UC Berkeley network, IT Resources, or the Internet. 

All UC Berkeley IT Resources and all devices connected to the UC Berkeley network or cloud services must comply with the MSSND requirements below. These standards are set by the Campus Information Risk Governance Committee (IRGC). Devices that do not meet these standards may be disconnected from the UC Berkeley network and/or cloud services. Implementing guidelines that provide more information about complying with the minimum security standards are linked to the individual requirements.

Devices that handle Protected Data or require a high level of Availability as defined in the Campus Information Security Policy Glossary are required to conform to more rigorous security standards. (See the Minimum Security Standards for Electronic Information.)

B. Scope 

This standard applies to UC Berkeley IT Resources and all devices connected to the UC Berkeley network or cloud services. It applies to Workforce Members, students, and Suppliers.

C. Exceptions

An exception is required for any configurations that do not comply with the MSSND.

Non-compliant systems that do not obtain exception approval may face removal from the UC Berkeley network and/or other take-down action. Departments, Units, or individuals with devices that cannot meet the requirements of the MSSND may request an exception to this Standard. Approval is based on whether the risks associated with non-compliance have been adequately mitigated. All exceptions are temporary and must be replaced with compliant solutions.

Use the Request for Exception to the Campus Minimum Security Standards website to submit requests. Questions about the Minimum Security Standards or the exception process may be addressed to:

D. Key Definitions

Definitions of Key Terms used in this standard are included in UC Berkeley’s Information Security Policy Glossary

II. Updated MSSND Requirements

1. Patching and Updates

Campus networked devices must only run supported software and operating systems for which security patches are made available in a timely fashion. All currently available security patches must be applied on a schedule appropriate to the severity of the risk they mitigate. 

Where extended vendor support is available for software or operating systems deemed “end-of-life”, enrollment is required and an exception must be requested.  

Patching and Updates Guidelines

2. Anti-malware Software

For Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X devices, anti-malware software must be running, up-to-date, and configured to update automatically. In addition, the software must run real-time scanning and/or scan the device regularly. Anti-malware software is also recommended for mobile devices and Linux where available.

Anti-malware Software Guidelines

3. Host-based Firewall Software

Network attached systems must, wherever possible, utilize host-based firewalls or access control lists (ACLs). These controls must be enabled and configured to block all inbound traffic that is not explicitly required for the intended use of the device. Use of a network-based firewall does not obviate the need for host-based firewalls.

  • Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, or Linux/Unix devices are all equipped with firewalls though they may not have them enabled by default. 

  • Further, many printers, and network attached equipment have access controls to restrict connections to a limited number of hosts or networks in compliance with this policy. Where available, these must be enabled.

Host-based Firewall Software Guidelines

4. Use of Authentication

Network services and local (console) device access must require authentication by means of passphrases or other secure authentication mechanisms (e.g. biometrics). Notably, the following network services must require authentication: proxy services, email (SMTP) relays, wireless access points, remote desktop, SSH shell access, and printer administrative interfaces. 

Services and devices that explicitly provide unauthenticated access (for example: public web servers, public kiosks) are an exception to this requirement, provided they can do so without allowing it to be used by attackers.

Simple devices like printers, game consoles, DVRs, media extenders, network attached storage, and router/firewalls that don't support local authentication are exempt from this requirement provided that physical access is restricted. This exemption does not extend to network-facing services running on the device.

Wireless access points must require industry-standard, strong encryption to connect (such as WPA2), or use a captive portal or some other strong mechanism to keep casual users near the access point from using it to get full access to the UC Berkeley network. WEP or MAC address restrictions do not meet this requirement.

All network-based authentication and stored authentication credentials must be encrypted using industry-standard, strong encryption mechanisms. Unencrypted services such as Telnet, FTP, SNMP, POP, and IMAP must be replaced by their encrypted equivalents.

Use of Authentication Guidelines (updates coming soon)

5. Passphrase Requirements

When passphrases are used, they must meet or exceed the following complexity specifications:

  • Passwords MUST contain eight (8) characters or more following this sliding scale: 
    • 8-11 characters: mixed case letters, numbers and symbols (e.g., !@#$%^&*()_+|~-=\`{}[]:";'<>?,./‘space’);
    • 12-15 characters: mixed case letters and numbers; 
    • 16-19 characters: mixed case letters;
    • 20+ characters: no restrictions.
  • PINs for mobile devices must be at least 6 characters in length. Authentication using the integrated biometric capabilities of supported devices from major vendors is also acceptable

Multi-user systems must be configured to enforce these complexity requirements where technically possible. 

All pre-assigned passphrases must be changed at the time of initial login. Multi-user systems must be configured to enforce this requirement.

Default and blank passphrases are prohibited and must be changed to a passphrase that that meets the requirements in this Standard. If an account has a default or blank passphrase that cannot be changed, that account must be disabled.

Individuals must not share user account passphrases, PINs, devices used to authenticate the user (e.g., mobile phones) or tokens (e.g. multifactor tokens, smartcards, etc.) with others.

Passphrases must be changed immediately if independently discovered, publicly disclosed, a suspected compromise has occurred, or a device on which they were used or stored has been lost or stolen. This includes discovery of hashed passwords or passphrases.

Do not use the same or substantively similar passphrases across multiple accounts.

Passphrase Guidelines (Draft)

6. Device Lock-Out 

Devices must be configured to "lock" or log out and require a user to re-authenticate with a strong passphrase/PIN, smart card or biometric lock if left unattended for more than 15 minutes, except in the following cases:

Devices without auto-locking/logoff capability

Devices that do not support a configuration that automatically locks or logs off users after a specified period of time (such as network appliances and consumer electronics) may meet this standard through alternate controls, such as physical access restrictions (e.g., device stored in a locked office not accessible by unauthorized users).

Kiosks and other public-use devices

Devices configured to satisfy the Campus Guidelines for Kiosk Workstations (e.g., public-use workstations in libraries and room/event scheduling panels) are exempt from this requirement.

7. No Unnecessary Services

Only network services, ports, and protocols necessary for the intended purpose or operation of a device may be running. All others must be disabled or removed. 

Only network proxy or gateway services, including TOR, whose configuration and use have been approved by the Unit Head and CISO are allowed on the UC Berkeley network.

No Unnecessary Services Guidelines

8. Privileged Accounts

Devices must be configured with separate accounts for privileged (administrator) and non-privileged (user) access.

Non-privileged user accounts must be used and only elevated to root or Administrator when necessary. A secure mechanism to escalate privileges (e.g., via User Account Control or via sudo) with a standard account is acceptable to meet this requirement.

Privileged and super-user accounts (Administrator, root, etc.) must not be used for non-administrator activities.

Network services must run under accounts assigned the minimum necessary privileges.

Devices that do not support separation of privileges

Devices that do not provide separate facilities for privileged and unprivileged access (e.g., some network appliances and printers with embedded operating systems) are exempt from this requirement, provided they do not handle P3 or P4 data and are not on a network containing P4 data.

Privileged Accounts Guideline (update coming soon)

Change Log

  • Oct. 11, 2019: Draft posted on Information Security Office website.
  • Oct. 17, 2019: Expanded requirement #3 to include access control lists (ACLs) and re-worked the language to further clarify the intent of this requirement. 
  • Nov. 1, 2019: Added requirement #8 "Privileged Accounts" (requirement #8). This requirement was not included in the initial version of this draft.
  • Nov. 26, 2019: Added links to Guidelines for each section
  • Dec. 2, 2019: Removed reference to patterns in #5 Passphrase Requirements; Added exemption for certain devices that do not support separation of privileges to #8 Privileged Accounts.