UBC IT Guide to Working off Campus

Getting Started

We've compiled some key technical resources to support you in working off campus. Keep reading to find out how to set yourself up for successful remote work.

Start here for instructions on what you'll need to work off-campus:

1. Set up your workstation

Set up your remote work area to maximize comfort, efficiency and safety. View the Working Remotely Ergonomics Guide to get set up.


To achieve the best user experience while being fully compliant with the University Information Security Standards, we recommend using a computer provided by UBC IT. All UBC IT endpoints have been enrolled in our University Endpoint Management Service. If you are planning to use your personal device, you must adhere to the requirements listed in Information Security Standard U6.


Ensure you have a wired or wireless network available. Remember that home internet connection won't provide the same level of bandwidth and quality of connection in the office. Videoconferencing and file transfers may take longer off-campus. As well, always ensure you make use of UBC's VPN service when accessing University data and/or services.

Audio Visual

Most laptops and computers have a built-in speaker and microphone, but you may want to use an external device such as headset if you plan to have many audio conference calls. Be sure to mute your microphone in meetings when you're not speaking.


Videoconferencing may require an external USB camera if your existing computer does not have a built-in camera. Most laptops will have a webcam built in and you can still participate in videoconference and audioconference calls without a webcam.

2. Configure your device(s)

The device(s) you use, whether UBC-provided or your own personal device, will need adhere to the requirements on our Privacy Checklist.

Logging in Remotely

For UBC provided devices, different login requirements are needed depending on the campus you are connecting from.


Start your device and log-in as you usually would (Windows devices require your CWL credentials).


Start your device up and it should bring you to the login screen. To login remotely, click the "computer only login" option under the username and password box. This fast-tracks the login process by preventing the device from looking for network resources. This will log you in locally to the computer and you will arrive at your desktop. You can then follow the Privacy Checklist steps below.

Get help

Contact your faculty or department's local IT support or contact the IT Service Centre if you need assistance.

3. Privacy Checklist

1. Enhanced CWL (Multifactor Authentication)

To keep personal information at UBC secure, faculty and staff must update their Campus-Wide Login (CWL) account to an 'Enhanced CWL' account. Learn more about Enhanced CWL here.

I do not have a CWL account

To enroll in Enhanced CWL, you must first have an active CWL account.

I have an existing CWL account

1. Login to MFA Device Management Website

Using your CWL username and password, login to the Self-service MFA Enrollment and Device Management website at https://mfadevices.id.ubc.ca.

2. Enroll your device

Follow the detailed step-by-step instructions to enroll your first device. Once you are enrolled you can manage any of the authentication methods associated with your account, including adding or removing a device.

3. Get help

Contact the IT Service Centre if you need assistance.

2. Anti-virus and malware protection

Protect yourself and UBC systems and data against viruses, spyware, adware, and suspicious files. Download UBC's recommended anti-virus program here. If you have purchased or installed a third-party antivirus, please check and ensure it is running. Best practice is to run a scan on your machine prior to using UBC systems.

3. Encrypt your device(s)

Encryption is a method of preventing unauthorized access to electronic data. It is used to protect data on devices such as computers, laptops, cellphones, or USB sticks. It can also be used to protect data during transmission which is especially important when working remotely. Encryption is imperative for sending sensitive information, securing your documents, keeping your email private and, ultimately, it allows for peace of mind if a computer is misplaced, lost or stolen.

Get help

Contact your faculty or department's local IT support or contact the IT Service Centre if you need assistance.

Getting Connected

How do I access email?

Use UBC's FASmail service to access your email by logging in with your UBC CWL credentials.

Outlook Web App (Web Browser)

You can access your UBC email and calendar through a web browser at mail.ubc.ca (via the Outlook Web App) with your CWL credentials. Bookmark this link for ease of access.

Desktop Email Client (Outlook Desktop App)

You can configure the email client on your computer to use the UBC Faculty and Staff email (FASmail) service. While setup documentation for various email applications are provided, we recommend using the Outlook Web App to access your mailbox. Click here for detailed instructions.

File storage and sharing

Every time we share information, whether through email, collaborative cloud applications, fax, or other transmission services, there is a risk that it will be intercepted by unauthorized parties.

Faculty and staff who access UBC Systems or share UBC data have a responsibility to protect this information, especially when it is confidential or sensitive. Learn how to share files securely.

How do I connect to VPN?

Some files and applications may require connecting to the UBC network through the Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN connection uses encryption to protect data and prevent others from listening-in on the data that is transferred between your computer and the campus network.Accessing your work files depends on where the files are stored, which may vary from department to department.

Get help

Contact your faculty or department's local IT support or contact the IT Service Centre if you need assistance.

1. Ensure you have myVPN software installed.

UBC-Provided Device

If you have a UBC provided laptop, the "Cisco Anyconnect" app will be available in the task tray (right hand corner of your screen). If not, you can download the myVPN Cisco Anyconnect software here.

Personal Device

If you are using a personal device, after confirming that your device adheres to our Privacy Checklist, you can download the myVPN Cisco Anyconnect software here.

2. What address do I type in?

After downloading and starting up the Cisco Anyconnect application, you'll be prompted to input an address to connect. Each campus has their own URL.

Vancouver - myvpn.ubc.ca

  • General UBC Services: Use this for general UBC services.
  • Department Specific Services: myvpn.ubc.ca – Use this for department specific services. Access to department specific services requires users to include a suffix to their username, for example "CWLname.enrl"

Okanagan - myvpn.ok.ubc.ca

  • General UBC Services: Use this for general UBC services.
    **Note the "OK" for Okanagan.
  • Department Specific Services: Please view instructions available here on how to connect.

3. When to use VPN

It's highly recommended to students, faculty, and staff to use VPN when performing UBC related work off-campus and when using non-secure wireless.

When VPN is needed:

  • Accessing UBC department file storage services
  • Accessing department shared drives
  • Logging into Management Systems Portal
  • Logging into Personal Absence Tracker
  • JIRA
  • Confluence

Faculty and staff acceding UBC Library resources

UBC Library users can connect to library resources via OpenAthens using several pathways. For simplified access, library users should start their search at the library web site to gain access to library-managed URLs. Library users can also use the Library Access Browser Extension to gain mediated access to resources while navigating the web. Visit Connect to Library Resources to learn more.

When VPN is not needed:

To enhance your network experience, the following activities should not be performed on VPN:

  • Streaming videos (e.g. YouTube, Netflix, and etc.)
  • Listening to audio (e.g. YouTube, Spotify, and etc.)
  • Checking your Email/FASMail at mail.ubc.ca
  • General web browsing
  • Using Video Conferencing Tools
  • Accessing Canvas
  • Using the Student Service Centre (SISC)
  • Using the Faculty Service Centre (FSC)
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • Sharepoint
  • Okanagan's Netstorage (web access to F, K and P drives)
  • Accessing the IT Help Desk

4. How do I log-in to administrative services?

You may need access to various administrative systems depending on your role. Here's a few enterprise-level systems that you can log-in to with your UBC credentials:

5. Home Use Program (HUP)

All UBC faculty and staff with FASmail accounts are eligible for Microsoft's Software Assurance Home Use Program (HUP). This program enables you to obtain a licensed subscription for Microsoft Office 365 applications to install and use on your non-UBC owned computer.

Note: at UBC, we are regulated by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), which requires us to protect personal information from unauthorized collection, use, or disclosure. In support of the law, UBC policy requires that all mobile devices—whether UBC-supplied or personally-owned— used for University Business be encrypted. Additional details on this can be found at www.privacymatters.ubc.ca


Available to all UBC employees with a FASmail account
Microsoft Office 365 subscription with 30% off

Registering for HUP

  1. Go to microsoft.com/en-us/home-use-program
  2. Enter your UBC email address (emails ending in @ubc.ca or @mail.ubc.ca only)
  3. Click Submit
  4. Check your inbox for an email from Microsoft, with a link to subscribe to Office 365 with 30% discount

Staying Connected

Use our recommended tools for audio conferencing, virtual meetings and instant messaging. Please note that while all of the above tools handle information securely, some of them store information outside Canada. From a privacy perspective, it is preferable to use these tools in non-recording mode. If you wish to use these tools in recording mode, special requirements may apply; see the documentation for details.

1. How do I connect with my colleagues?

Microsoft Teams

Many faculty and administrative units have adopted Microsoft (MS) Teams to enable collaboration and communication while working on and off campus. To learn about the service requirements and how to get MS Teams on your device(s), please visit the MS Teams service catalogue page.

If you have questions about MS teams, please contact the IT Service Centre.

Zoom video conferencing

Zoom video conferencing is another tool we recommend to use to stay in touch with your colleagues.

UBC has a campus-wide license for Zoom as a platform for delivering courses online and larger meetings. Zoom is an easy-to-use video conferencing platform that offers a wide range of features. For more information on Zoom, including how to access the Zoom campus-wide license, visit www.it.ubc.ca/zoom.

Other Tools

Accessing Remote Labs

The Remote Access to Labs (Remote Labs) service provides students with access to the University Lab Computers over the internet. Students requesting access to a specific computer lab within their faculty should reach out to their lab or faculty instructor for further instructions. For more information please visit: https://it.ubc.ca/services/desktop-print-services/remote-access-labs

Tips for Using these tools

Getting ready for a meeting:

  1. Use a tool that your team or audience is most comfortable with. Don't change tools if you have something that works. Make sure all participants have downloaded the software and have its setup on their computers ahead of your meetings.
  2. Have a backup plan. Sometimes, technology doesn't work. Instead of trying to fix it, just switch to your backup. Have multiple modes to connect – video conferencing, audio-only and a telephone dial-in number.
  3. Practice! Find a colleague to make a test call with and rehearse using share screen and other features to ensure you meeting will go smoothly.
  4. Find a quiet place to setup, make sure the background (behind you) is suitable to be on screen.
  5. Use headphones to alleviate echo, feedback and help you hear more clearly. If you have one with a built-in mic, even better.
  6. Book your meeting with additional time in the beginning and at the end. Online meetings can sometimes take longer to get set-up and going and having a buffer is helpful.
  7. Be on time.

Running/hosting a meeting:

  1. Have a clear agenda or purpose. Be explicit about calling the meeting to order and adjourning.
  2. Create ample space for people to chime in. It's easy to sit in the background on a conference. Asking people directly for input often works best.
  3. If you are presenting, keep it simple, don't share a lot of detail. Participants will likely have small laptop screens and may find it difficult to see what you are presenting.
  4. Follow up with notes and actions via email after the meeting to ensure everyone is clear on the outcomes and next steps.

If you run into problems:

  1. Don't panic! Ensure you have a backup plan and stick to it. Don't spend precious time troubleshooting.
  2. If things really go south, its sometimes better to cut your losses and reschedule, then to waste time trying to fix the issue.
  3. Don't try to switch solutions on the fly – your participants may end up in limbo.
  4. If you find your connection cutting in and out at home, it might be your internet connection or home wireless quality. Try switching off your video to see if that improves the connection. You can also switch to phone participation, and do more testing to determine the issue.

Staying Vigilant

Working remotely requires increased information security. We've made it easy by listing the top 5 things you can do to keep your information secure:

Take the Privacy Fundamentals Training

Protect your password(s)

    Passwords are an important part of our digital lives. Have you ever considered the implications of what would happen if your password was stolen? Click here to learn how to protect your passwords.

Protect your (and other's) personal information

Don't get phished: recognizing phishing and spear-phishing dangers

    People who want to steal your information can be clever. A common trick used by cybercriminals is to send you an email, that appears to come from someone you trust. Phishing messages can come in many different disguises, from sophisticated deception to obvious fraud. Read more about phishing, spear-phishing and how to protect yourself against both.

Collaborate securely over video

To avoid unwelcome participants and undesirable contributions, consider sharing unique meeting IDs for each class and ask your class not to share the link.
Keep these further suggestions on hand when setting up a future virtual meeting:

Prevent Zoom Bombings

You may have heard of a practice called Zoom bombing where during a Zoom session, intruders hijack the session by saying or showing inappropriate content. Zoom bombers who are successful in disrupting sessions can also post video footage of those incidents to video sharing platforms such as TikTok and YouTube. The compromised Zoom session can typically shut down by the host.
Click here to learn more about preventing Zoom bombings.

Report suspicious emails

Remember: "Think before you click the link". If you have any concerns about a message or link, don't open the message or click the link. Instead forward it to security@ubc.ca.

Your IT Toolbox

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