It goes without saying that research data is incredibly valuable to the institution it belongs to, and in many instances, it can also be incredibly sensitive. With these concerns in mind, it follows that researchers in the healthcare, corporate and public sector industries would do everything within their power to ensure that research data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Data breaches are more common than you may realise however, and in many instances damaging breaches may easily have been avoided. Take a look at these five research data security best practice techniques to see whether you’re doing enough to keep your data safe…
Reduce the chance of human error
Believe it or not, the vast majority of UK data breaches aren’t caused by external agents at all, but are instead instigated by internal human error. The more people along the chain who have access to your research data and the more security responsibility invested in your staff, the more likely you are to suffer a data breach. Automating your research data capture processes can help to reduce reliance upon data entry operatives, thus minimising the risk of a breach.
Digitise your data
We’ve all heard the horror stories about top government institutions leaving vital, sensitive data on public transport or in other places where it can be picked up and read by just anyone. Traditional printed data forms are easy to misplace and even easier to read, whereas digital data can be stored in a non-physical (and thus harder to misplace) format, and can even be encrypted in order to keep unwanted individuals out of the loop.
Prioritise password security
Hackers and cybercriminals prey on weak passwords in order to extract the valuable data stored on the hard-drives of companies and individuals. If your passwords are strong, could your password reminder be easily guessed, or your password quickly reset? You need to think of such potential chinks in your data armour and close them down – fast. Using the name of your institution or the department you work in are easy passwords to guess.
Defend against external threats
While you’re far more likely to suffer a data breach due to employee incompetence or oversight rather than the malicious acts of an external agent, you still need to take steps to keep your system free from malware attacks. Spyware is used by cybercriminals to extract valuable data without the knowledge of their victims, so you need to protect your system with adequate digital security software if you want your research data to remain safe and secure.
It’s crucial that you take steps to protect your sensitive research data from harm, because a breach could undermine your entire project as well as tarnishing the reputation of your organisation. Good data security begins with structure and consistency, so to minimise the risk of human error and ensure that your data is stored safely and in one place, make the most of our accurate, secure, automated data capture services and see how your research could benefit this year.