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What are Some Best Practices for Researchers to Protect Research Data?

  1. Remain Current with Safe Computing Practices
    • Review information at the TTU Safe Computing website
    • Be alert to announcements that pertain to safe computing practices.
    • Review security logs daily (System Administrators).
    • Stay current by reading technological articles.
  2. Install Anti-virus Software
    • Symantec Endpoint Protection is available for download, free of charge, through the eRaider website. In addition to Symantec, other anti-virus applications may be considered.
  3. Install a Firewall
  4. Update and Patch Operating System
    • Windows OS
    • Unix / Linux OS
      • Most UNIX or Linux operating system vendors release security patches regularly. You should check the vendor websites for new patches at least weekly, and immediately after any announcement of a new vulnerability.
      • Most vendors also allow users to subscribe to security mailing lists for their operating systems.
  5. Data Classification
    • Research data is classified to identify access control, data encryption and backup requirements. The following matrix may be used as a guide to classify your information and data:
      DATA CLASSIFICATION MATRIX Confidential Sensitive Public
      Mission Critical      
      Non-Mission Critical      
  6. System Authentication and Security
    • Ensure that access to all confidential and sensitive data is managed appropriately.
      • Use strong passwords. (Password integrity relies heavily upon the password length, complexity, reuse, and aging.)
      • Change the default administrator accounts and passwords.
    • Social Security numbers must not be used as a primary or secondary identifiers. Use university provided eRaider authentication for access computer systems and applications.
    • For database and web applications, use eRaider authentication. Programming assistance for the front-end authentication is provided by Technology Support.
    • You may choose to enhance the security of data on the hard drive by the following two methods:
      • Restrict user access to the directory file structure.
      • Restrict user permissions to the directory file structure.
    • Lock workstations or use password protected screen savers when users are away.
    • For secure remote access to university computer systems from off-campus, use Virtual Private Networking (VPN). Information is available at IT Help Central.
    • Other practices and tools may be used to increase the security of the system. For example, you may take periodic system snapshots by using a security scanner available from Microsoft.
  7. Data Backup Options
    • The University offers a central data backup service for computers within the TTU domain with mission critical data.
    • You may also choose to perform your own data backup.
  8. Data Encryption
    • Data encryption may be used to further protect confidential and sensitive research data.
    • If data is encrypted, ensure that the encryption will stay with the data as it travels through the network, web servers, application servers, and database server.
    • To encrypt confidential and sensitive email communications, view information available from VeriSign.
  9. Protection of Research Labs
    • Secure physical access to research labs
      • Contact the University Police Department for consultation on ways to protect access to research labs.
      • A criminal background check on employees is strongly recommended.
    • Consult with TTU Environmental Health and Safety to guard against environmental hazards

For more information or to pursue options outlined above, please contact the HPCC at 806-742-4350.

 

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