Secure Data Service

Article dated: 19 June 2009

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) the UKDA Secure Data Service is a new service to allow controlled restricted access of potentially disclosive microdata files to some users (Approved Researchers), subject to conditions of eligibility, purpose of use, security procedures, and other features associated with access to the SDS data. SDS image

It is based around a Citrix infrastructure which turns the end user’s computer into a ‘remote terminal’ giving access to data, statistical software, and collaboratory spaces on a central secure server held within the UKDA. The system is flexible, in that depending upon the wishes of the data custodians, access can be restricted to particular users (safe people) and/or particular locations (safe rooms/machines). It is secure because all data manipulation occurs on the server, which is maintained to very strict security protocols.

All data processing is carried out on a central secure server, which processes all requests centrally and returns information about the results. No data travels over the network, except the statistical results sent from the central server to the remote location by an encrypted email after the final outputs are checked against statistical disclosure controls.

Access to the SDS will only be granted after users have attended an SDS training session. There will be vetting of data analysis outputs for disclosure issues by SDS staff, to ensure that nothing escapes the secure data setting which could compromise the data security (safe output). The service will be fully operational in Autumn 2009.