Skip to content

Best Practices for the NERC Users

By 2025, according to Gartner's forecast, the responsibility for approximately 99% of cloud security failures will likely lie with customers. These failures can be attributed to the difficulties in gauging and overseeing risks associated with on-prem cloud security. The MGHPCC will enter into a lightweight Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with each institutional customer that consumes NERC services and that will also clearly explain about the security risks and some of the shared responsibilities for the customers while using the NERC. This ensures roles and responsibilities are distinctly understood by each party.

NERC Principal Investigators (PIs): PIs are ultimately responsible for their end-users and the security of the systems and applications that are deployed as part of their project(s) on NERC. This includes being responsible for the security of their data hosted on the NERC as well as users, accounts and access management.

Every individual user needs to comply with your Institution’s Security and Privacy policies to protect their Data, Endpoints, Accounts and Access management. They must ensure any data created on or uploaded to the NERC is adequately secured. Each customer has complete control over their systems, networks and assets. It is essential to restrict access to the NERC provided user environment only to authorized users by using secure identity and access management. Furthermore, users have authority over various credential-related aspects, including secure login mechanisms, single sign-on (SSO), and multifactor authentication.

Under this model, we are responsible for operation of the physical infrastructure that includes responsibility for protecting, patching and maintaining underlying virtualization layer, servers, disks, storage, network gears, other hardwares, and softwares. Whereas NERC users are responsible for the security of the guest operating system (OS) and software stack i.e. databases used to run their applications and data. They are also entrusted with safeguarding middleware, containers, workloads, and any code or data generated by the platform.

All NERC users are responsible for their use of NERC services, which include:

  • Following the best practices for security on NERC services. Please review your institutional guidelines next.

  • Complying with security policies regarding VMs and containers. NERC admins are not responsible for maintaining or deploying VMs or containers created by PIs for their projects. See Harvard University and Boston University policies here. We will be adding more institutions under this page soon. Without prior notice, NERC reserves the right to shut down any VM or container that is causing internal or external problems or violating these policies.

  • Adhering to institutional restrictions and compliance policies around the data they upload and provide access to/from NERC. At NERC, we only offer users to store internal data in which information is chosen to keep confidential but the disclosure of which would not cause material harm to you, your users and your institution. Your institution may have already classified and categorized data and implemented security policies and guidance for each category. If your project includes sensitive data and information then you might need to contact NERC's admin as soon as possible to discuss other potential options.

  • Backups and/or snapshots are the user's responsibility for volumes/data, configurations, objects, and their state, which are useful in the case when users accidentally delete/lose their data. NERC admins cannot recover lost data. In addition, while NERC stores data with high redundancy to deal with computer or disk failures, PIs should ensure they have off-site backups for disaster recovery, e.g., to deal with occasional disruptions and outages due to the natural disasters that impact the MGHPCC data center.