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SAFER FAQ

A Steward is on vacation and we need to make access changes that can't wait until the Steward is back. What should we do?

  • The remaining Steward (who is not on vacation) must first transfer the vacation-Steward's responsibility to a new Steward (either temporarily or permanently). Then you will have two present Stewards who are able to execute the necessary action. Use the Replace a Steward form.

Both Stewards are on vacation or away and we need to make access changes to a folder. What do we do?

  • Please contact Weinberg College IT for access changes in the absence of both Stewards. Please be aware that access changes will be made only rarely by Weinberg IT. Also, Weinberg IT will be in touch with the Director of this Share for permission to make these changes. In the absence of both Stewards and the Director, changes will not be made. Stewards should be selected for their expertise regarding folder content and also their availability to make these changes.

Someone is being hired and they'll need access to SAFER folders. What is the process?

  • If the newly hired person needs access to a small number of top-level folders or folders underneath only a few top-level folders, the relevant Stewards can fill out the Change Collaborator Access form for each folder.  If the newly hired person needs access to a large number of folders or folders under multiple top-level folders within a Share, the Directors of the Share can complete the Duplicate Collaborator Access form and grant the newly hired person the permission set of the previous employee in the same role (or similar role).  

An employee is leaving and they need their access removed from SAFER folders in our Share. What's the process?

  • Stewards can remove the person from individual folders with the Change Collaborator Access form, however that will not remove all of the person's access, necessarily, given that the person might have access to folders in more than one steward pair's jurisdiction and access to non-SAFER folders.  To remove all of one person's access to SAFER folders in an entire Share, complete the Remove Collaborator Access form.  Multiple forms for multiple Shares may be needed, depending.  


A person needs access to a folder that isn't sensitive. Do they have to go through SAFER to get access?

  • SAFER only regulates access to folders that are registered in a SAFER Share - as described in this section of the site: How It Works. You can log in online to Box and potentially grant access directly as an owner or editor of the non-sensitive folder without using SAFER. In the Box interface, click on the button that says "Share this Folder" when inside the folder and fill out the form that appears.  If the option is grayed-out, it means you do not have sufficient privileges to grant access to that folder and the cause might be that it is a SAFER-registered folder.  SAFER-registered folders have "sensitive" tags. 

How do I know if folders are in a SAFER Share or SAFER-registered?

  • SAFER folders are located within a SAFER Share - as described in this section of this site: How It Works.  (All folders in the Weinberg Dean's Office are SAFER folders by default.)  Furthermore, when you put in the URL of a folder into the Register a Subfolder form, the system will tell you if it's already a SAFER-registered folder.  The Box interface online will also have purple tags that say "sensitive" on SAFER-registered folders.  Your organization's Stewards will also know which folders are in a SAFER share.      

I think I need access (or someone else does) to certain folders, but I don't know who the Stewards are and I don't know whom to ask for permission.

  • A SAFER Share's list of Stewards will be available to you when you log-in with your NetID into the SAFER application if you already have access to at least one folder in the Share.  Look under "Reports" for the one labeled "Directors and Stewards."  If you do not already have access to at least one folder in the Share, you will only be able to view the Directors, but you can contact them for further direction.  

What is "SAFER-registered?" What is a "SAFER-registered" folder?

Can I register just a subfolder and not the top-level folder?

  • No, the top-level folder must exist in a SAFER share and must be registered.  That process also requires appointing two individuals to serve as Stewards for the top-level folder. You cannot register just a subfolder and not the top-level first. If you created the top level folder with the Create a Top-Level Folder form, it is registered immediately as part of that process.  However, if you moved a folder tree into the SAFER share, the tree must be registered beginning with the top-level folder. 
  • To modify access to a subfolder, first register the top-level folder (if it isn't already registered), then register the subfolder in question (if it isn't already registered).  Use the Register a Top Level Folder and its Tree Form to register the top-level folder.  Then use the Register a Subfolder Form for the subfolder, if needed. 
  • Please note, if you use the Register a Top Level Folder and its Tree form, it may also register your subfolder in the process if its collaborator set differs from its parent's.  
  • To modify anyone's access to an already registered folder, use the Change Collaborator Access form. 
  • See above for the answer to How do you know if folders are SAFER-registered or not? 

I'm a Director and I've just been notified that a Steward transfer (or other action) has taken place that I don't agree with. What should I do?

  • Notify the Steward who made the change that you want the change reversed or altered. One of the two standing Stewards can re-instate the departed Steward or designate a new Steward entirely with the Replace a Steward form. If this is not possible because of Stewards being unavailable, please contact Weinberg College IT.

I'm an Org Admin and I realized that a Director has left and needs to be replaced. How do I replace them?

  • Log in to the admin site and replace the Director as soon as possible. On the "Accounts" page, "manage" the Account and then select "Edit" under the appropriate Share.  From there you can add a second Director, if needed, and eliminate the first.  

There's a folder that potentially has sensitive data in it and maybe should be managed by SAFER. How do I know if that's necessary?

  • Follow the guidelines of the University Data Access Policy to determine if there is sensitive data in your folder(s). Then, if you determine SAFER is necessary and you are affiliated with Weinberg College, Weinberg College IT can move your folders into a SAFER Share.  Contact us if you're interested.  If you are affiliated with a different school or IT group, email safer@northwestern.edu or consultant@northwestern.edu and request further guidance from Northwestern IT. 

Will anything happen to existing permissions on a folder if I register it?

  • Simply registering a folder in a SAFER share does not change permissions.  Permissions will remain once the folder (and its tree) are registered.  For example, if you register a subfolder in a SAFER share with the Register a Subfolder form, existing permissions are preserved and you can then modify them after registering the folder.  Additionally, if you move a folder tree into a SAFER Share at the top level (to make it a top-level folder) and you use the Register a Top-Level Folder and its Tree form, all permissions in the entire folder tree will be preserved.  
  • However,  permissions may be lost in other circumstances.  For example, if a person had access to a folder structure in its original location because s/he had inherited access from above it and you then move the folder tree into a SAFER share, that person will no longer have access.  Their access was inherited (not explicit) and inheritance was broken. 
  • Also, if you move a folder structure from outside a SAFER Share under an existing top-level SAFER folder, SAFER will strip any permissions off the moved folder structure that do not match the permissions of the destination folder. However, Stewards can use the Register a Subfolder form to restore permissions.  Weinberg College IT or Northwestern IT can also help you ensure access is restored as part of the move process. 
  • Read the section on registering folders on this page: Steward Actions with Forms.  Email safer@northwestern.edu for more guidance.

I want to move a folder from a non-SAFER folder into a SAFER folder. What will happen if I do that?

  • If you move a folder tree from outside a SAFER share into a SAFER Share at the top level (to make it a top-level folder) and you use the Register a Top-Level Folder and its Tree form, all permissions in the entire folder tree will be preserved. 
  • If you move a folder tree from outside a SAFER Share under an existing top-level SAFER folder, SAFER will strip any permissions off the moved folder tree that do not match the permissions of the destination folder. Only the permissions inherited from the destination SAFER folder tree will remain; differing permissions will be stripped. However, Stewards can use the Register a Subfolder form to restore permissions. 
  • This stripping process exists to maintain the access integrity of the destination SAFER folder tree to only those people previously approved by the Stewards.  
  • Please note that the stewards of the SAFER folder tree will be notified of this kind of move.  

I want to move a folder from a SAFER share to a non-sensitive one. What will happen if I do that?

  • Sensitive data should not be moved out of SAFER shares. Ensure first that all the folders and subfolders you are moving do not contain sensitive data.  However, if you also have access to the destination folder, you can move your folders into it.  Please note that the stewards of the original SAFER folder tree will be notified of this move.  

I want to grant access to a SAFER folder to someone outside of the Northwestern community. How do I do that?

  • Invite your external collaborators with their email address that is associated with a Box account.  They can create a free Box account if they do not have one already.  Stewards can use the Change Collaborator Access form or the Register a Subfolder form and input your external collaborators' email addresses.  They should leave the NetID field blank. Note that your external collaborators may have "auto-accept" off in Box for folder invites and so they would then have to accept the invitation in their email first in order to have access, after both stewards approve the form.  Until then, they will be listed in Box as a "pending" collaborator.  External collaborators cannot be stewards.    

I want to change the name of a folder. Is there a form for that?

  • You can make file and folder name changes yourself in the Box interface, if you have the right permissions.  You must be at least an editor or viewer-uploader of that folder.  SAFER will notify the Stewards of the name change.  

There is a "pending" status next to one of my collaborators. What does that mean? 

  • Pending status means either that your Northwestern collaborator has never logged into their Box account, or it means that your external collaborator has not accepted your invite to the folder in their email yet.  
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