Data Security Measures

It is absolutely essential that your research data is secure and safe throughout the process, especially sensitive data.  When considering data security, one should consider the following things: network security, physical security, computer systems and files, and encryption. 

  • 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 or use external hard drives
    • 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. Some of these include Bitlocker (Windows), FileVault/FileVault2 (Mac).
    • Avoid relying solely on 3rd party encryption
    • Use electronic signatures or watermarking to keep track of authorship and data file changes. All active Harvard students, faculty, and staff have access to Adobe Acrobat Sign for signatures and tracking.