Data Security

If you are conducting research, then you must have data. It's important to invest some time in keeping that data secure.

  • How are you collecting the data?
  • Where are you storing the data?
  • Who should have access to the data?
  • How is the data being backed up?
  • How will you preserve your data for other researchers?

Data Classification

Your data management process is dependent on the classification of your data. Western's Data Classifications are Public, Sensitive or Confidential. The classification types are defined on the Information Security web site.

Data Security

If your data is considered sensitive or confidential according to Western's Data Classifications, then you need to be encrypting your data or storing it in a secure fashion to protect it from theft, loss or malware.

  • Laptops and Desktop computers - These should be encrypted if you are storing your data on the local hard drive. Bitlocker is bundled with the Professional and Enterprise versions of Windows and can easily be used to encrypt your whole computer. The key used for the encryption is a password that you must not lose. There is a tutorial on setting up Bitlocker on You will need to log in using your Western credentials to view the tutorial.
  • Network Computers - If you are working on a system on the SSC Network, we recommend that you lock your screen to protect your computer against unauthorized access. Then save your data directly on your personal H: drive, or your shared research folder on P:. Data on your own H: drive is accessible only by you. Data on P: is accessible only by the research team members that you specify. Both have the added benefit of being backed up hourly.
  • USB Devices - If you are using USB Flash drives or external hard drives to store or backup your data, you should be encrypting these devices. Western recommends using TrueCrypt for USB drives.
  • Email and Cloud - Sensitive or confidential data should not be emailed or saved in the Cloud using DropBox, OneDrive, Google Docs, or any other cloud service. If you need to share your data with someone on campus, we recommend a shared folder, or the on-campus OneDrive solution.
  • Printing - Care should also be taken when printing confidential or sensitive data. Western provides tips for managing the printing of confidential or sensitive data on the Information Security web site.


Data security includes backing up your data. If your laptop were lost, stolen, or the data was lost due to some malfunction, you want to be able to resume your research with no loss of data. Please see our backup help document for tips and suggestions, or contact us for support in setting up your own backup plan.

Data Management Plan

Western Libraries has put together a new resource for Research Data Management in response to the Tri-Agency Statement of Principles on Digital Data Management. It has many useful tools for planning your research data management from the initial planning stages to the final storage location of your data in a data repository for future researchers.

For support securing your data, please contact or call 519-661-2152 or ext. 82152.