How do I securely set up my IU Box account?

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Box at Indiana University is not appropriate for storing or sharing most types of institutional data classified as Critical. However, with certain additional security measures, you may be able to use IU Box with some data that contain protected health information (PHI) regulated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). For more, see What types of data are appropriate for my IU Box account?
The following recommendations will increase the security of your IU Box account, but are not sufficient to protect certain types of sensitive institutional data. If you work with regulated data such as protected health information (PHI), or if you need or desire more advanced security, see Protecting sensitive data in Box.

View a video describing these steps.

Initial Box account configuration

If you haven't yet created your IU Box account, see Getting started with Box at IU.

Rather than using the default settings, you should apply more restrictive security settings when first configuring your IU Box account. You can make adjustments as needed to share files and collaborate, but you won't have to worry about exposing too much of your data.

Below are the recommended default settings. You will likely need to adjust these settings to effectively and efficiently collaborate with others; be sure to do so in a way that grants others only the access they need and no more. Situations that may require sharing are outlined below in Collaboration settings.

  1. Log into Box. Click the gear icon on the upper right, and select Account Settings.
  2. From the Security tab, in the "Access to Your Account" section, verify that Box does not have access to your account. You should see (but should not click) a button that says Grant Box Access for 5 days.
  3. From the Content & Sharing tab:
    1. In the "Shared Links" section:
      1. By default, configure the "Enable external links" option to Nothing, restrict sharing. You can always change it later if you need to share a file with a very large group, but this setting allows for the greatest privacy.
      2. Configure the "Let link viewers:" option as you like.
      3. Uncheck Shared content commenting.
    2. In the "Collaborating on Content" section, uncheck Incoming invitations. You should explicitly decide which projects and data you have access to.
    3. You can safely ignore the "Uploading Content" section.
    4. Click Save.
  4. From the Notifications tab:
    1. Check all boxes beneath "in folders I own". You should be aware when individuals access your uploaded files.
    2. Configure the "General Emails" options as you like.
    3. In the "Real-time Notifications" section, you should opt to at least receive Important notifications.
    4. Click Save.

Collaboration settings

Box is designed to be a collaborative tool. To use it effectively, you'll likely need to grant others access to files in your account. Follow this guide to do so safely.

The most important thing to remember is to always have a good idea of what's going on in your Box account. Know what files you've uploaded to which folders and what the sharing settings on those folders are. Remove outdated information or folders once they're no longer necessary.

Additionally, remember that folders will inherit the settings and permissions of the parent folder; you cannot remove settings and collaborators from child folders.

Below are examples of collaborative situations in which you may need to share your files.

Work/storage for yourself

  1. Create a top "root-level" folder that will remain private.
    1. Choose Folder Properties and then Security.
      1. Check Only Owners and Co-owners can send collaborator invites.
      2. Check Hide collaborators.
      3. Uncheck Allow anyone who can access this folder from a shared link to join.
      4. Check Restrict shared links to collaborators only and then, from the drop-down menu, select For both files and folders. As long as collaborators are not added, this folder should remain completely private.
    2. Choose Save and then Invite Collaborators.
      1. Select the Share Invite Link tab.
      2. Ensure that all the fields are blank and the button at the bottom says Enable Link. Otherwise, click Disable Link.

As long as you upload or save your personal files to this location and ensure the folder isn't shared, these files should remain private.

Students and instructors

These settings apply both for students sharing with instructors and vice versa.

  1. Create a top "root-level" folder that will be used to share files with students or instructors.
  2. Choose Folder Properties and then Security.
  3. Uncheck Anyone with the folder shared link can join.
  4. Check Only you can send collaborator invites.
  5. Check Hide collaborators.
  6. Check Restrict shared links to collaborators only and then, from the drop-down menu, select For both files and folders.

Child folders created within the parent can house collaborators as needed based on assignment, course, or one for each student or instructor.

Private collaborations

Box provides two primary methods of sharing or collaborating: shared links and collaboration invitations. When sharing, send an explicit invitation to each individual (unless the collaborative group is very large).

Access levels

Pay special attention to access levels when sharing files and folders with other collaborators. Ensure each individual is configured at the desired access level; see What are the different access levels for collaborators? on the Box Support site.


This is document bbya in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2015-07-13.

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