There are many reasons to care about research security. Researchers depend on the availability and integrity of their research data to continue the vital work of innovation, discovery, and improvement. Research participants rely on researchers and their teams to protect their information and privacy at every stage of the research process. These responsibilities are core principles of research ethics across disciplines, often required by research sponsors, and in many cases, mandated by law.

The digital era offers incredible possibilities to researchers–new capabilities in data collection and analysis, collaboration with colleagues around the world, and continuous availability of data from anywhere, any time. The use of technology offers numerous benefits, but researchers aren’t alone in their enjoyment of this technological boon. Cybercriminals also see opportunities.

Your research may be valuable because it involves information about a ground-breaking, life-saving, world-changing product or device, or it might be valuable simply because it involves private information about your participants. Without attention to security, your research data, intellectual property, and your participants’ personal information could be stolen, corrupted, deleted, or held for a ransom.

Sometimes, security problems aren’t the result of cybercrime. They can also result from a lack of awareness of secure solutions, mistakes, accidents, or using insecure processes that seem easier in some way.

No matter what the cause, neglecting security usually becomes more costly in every way imaginable. Security incidents can undermine years of research, bring research activities to a complete stop, result in legal or financial consequences, and damage the reputations of researcher, their disciplines, and their institution.

There’s a lot to think about in research, including security. The Office of Information Security is here to help you protect your research, data, and participant information. You’ll find helpful information, guidance, forms, and services for researchers throughout our website. Here, we ask and answer some essential questions to help you start thinking about your research security needs.