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Research Data Management: Data Security

Guide on research data management, with resources and tools for data planning, data organization, data documentation, data sharing, data security, data analysis and visualization

Data Security

Always consider security issues carefully when your data contains sensitive information such as identification and health information. 

  • Network Security: Store the data in a facility either connected to a secured network or disconnected to Internet.
  • Physical Security: Strictly control the access to the buildings in which facilities storing sensitive data are located.
  • Information Security: To enhance information security, encrypt the data sets before sending them to the storage facility.

Backup Datasets

Cloud based storage and synchronizing service

Use this option only when there is no sensitive information in the data set. A good strategy is to keep multiple copies of the back-ups using both a cloud based storage service and local hard drive.

Please contact us if you have tools to SUGGEST or you want to give us feedback about any of the options listed below. We appreciate your help to improve the quality of this guide.


Encryption Tools

Consider these tools to encrypt your data files.


GNU Privacy Guard (GnuPG)
(Windows/Mac/Linux, Free)
Open source implementation of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP). Standard GnuPG is a command line tool. Graphic wrappers of GnuPG are listed here.

Disk Utility
Disk Utility
(Mac buildin, Free)
OS X buildin application. The icon is a screen shot of part of its interface.

TrueCrypt (recommended)
(Windows/Mac/Linux, Free)
An on-the-fly encryption tool. Once installed, files will automatically be decrypted when accessed, and encrypted when you no longer in use.

(Windows, Free)
Can be used as a lightweight encryption tool. Suitable for encrypting documents.

(Windows, Free)
Integrate with Windows shell. Provider right-click encryption/decryption functionality.


Source: Five Best File Encryption Tools from lifehacker.

Quick access to

Research data sources

Research and publishing support

Research grants

Ink (Institutional knowledge at SMU)


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