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Research Data Management

Learn how to better manage your research team's data throughout all phases of the research lifecycle.

2.4 Data Security

Data Security Measures:

During research, it is absolutely essential that the research data that you are working on is secure and safe throughout the process, especially sensitive data.   A lack of data security could violate confidentiality and the integrity of research participants and in effect the law.  In addition, it could compromise the reputation of the researcher and the institution involved in the research.  When considering data security, one should consider the following things: network security, physical security, computer systems and files, and encryption.  Let’s have a look at these things in more detail:

Data cloud with a lock
  • Network Security
    • Confidential data should not be stored online (i.e. over the Internet); think about storing information on computers that are not connected to the Internet
    • If your system is connected to the Internet, use a firewall
  • Physical Security
    • Put access restrictions on rooms where key data computers are kept
    • Fixing computer problems should be left to only very trusted individuals
    • Store physical paper files in locked file cabinets
  • Computer systems and files
    • Anti-virus computer programs should be current
    • Avoid sending confidential/sensitive data through email or FTP
    • Password protect files and computers
  • Encryption
    • Encrypt sensitive data; use common/”mainstream” encryption tools
    • Avoid keeping passwords and keys online; store them on paper
    • Avoid relying solely on 3rd party encryption
    • Use electronic signatures or watermarking to keep track of authorship and data file changes

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