Security refers to two main areas: 1) safeguarding the integrity of the data itself and 2) restricting access to sensitive data (such as geographic, administrative, or medical information about individuals).


  • Everyone should keep their digital data safe from attack by computer malware.
  • If you work with sensitive data, you may need to comply with requirements and policies of the university, state, federal government, and granting agencies for keeping it private.  Some of the following policies may be applicable:
PolicyDescriptionHow to Comply
UW-Madison data policiesProtects sensitive personal data handled by UW-Madison personnel in the course of their work.Campus IT policies, including those for sensitive information.
Methods for handling restricted data.
FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)Laws protecting private student data and its access by parents, schools, and others.Guidance from the Family Policy Compliance Office at the Department of Education.
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)Rules safeguarding the privacy of personal health information and its access by health care providers and others. Resources to assist UW-Madison researchers with HIPAA compliance.


The same recommendations for keeping protecting digital information in other areas of your life apply to the valuable digital assets from your research:
Secure your computer.Follow the instructions at the CIO's Office of Cybersecurity.
Be cautious sharing data via email, portable media, or network drives.Tips from the DoIT HelpDesk on minimizing risks of computer virus contamination when sharing data files.
Keep private data private. This may require handling data in secure locations (data enclaves), setting up authentication/authorization, encrypting data, and other measures.


The following campus resources may be able to help you with questions or specific needs regarding data security:

Resource Description
Campus Office of Cybersecurity Provides information on security policies and may be able to assist you with methods for restricting access to sensitive data.
Data & Information Services Center (DISC) in Social SciencesHas staff expertise and facilities for working with restricted data.