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Comments Sought on Scientific Data Security Concerns and Practices

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Scientific cyberinfrastructure brings unique challenges for cybersecurity due to its open nature, use of unique instruments, large and complex data sets, and rich ecosystems of collaboration across countries and between disciplines.

The Trustworthy Data Working Group is seeking feedback from the scientific community on their initial draft report that provides guidance on trustworthy data for science projects, including science gateways. This report builds off key findings from its previously published survey report regarding trustworthy data and provides recommendations to address those concerns.

The report covers stakeholders of trustworthy data, the definition of trustworthiness, findings from the survey report, barriers to trustworthiness, tools and technologies for trustworthy data, and communication of trustworthiness. Comments will be used as the group develops final guidance on trustworthy data for science projects and cyberinfrastructure developers.

Comments can be submitted via the working group mailing list. You may also email input directly to Jim Basney, an NCSA cybersecurity senior research scientist who also serves as deputy director of Trusted CI and chairs the Trustworthy Data Working Group.

A Science Gateways webinar on Wednesday, October 7 at noon CDT will present an overview of the guidance report.

The Trustworthy Data Working Group is a collaborative effort of Trusted CI, the four NSF Big Data Innovation Hubs, the NSF CI CoE Pilot, the Ostrom Workshop on Data Management and Information Governance, the NSF Engagement and Performance Operations Center (EPOC), the Indiana Geological and Water Survey, the Open Storage Network, and other interested community members. The goal of the working group is to understand scientific data security concerns and provide guidance on ensuring the trustworthiness of data.

Working group membership is open to all who are interested. Please visit their webpage for more information, and read the Executive Summary of the initial report:

In April and May of 2020, the Trustworthy Data Working Group conducted a survey of the scientific community about data security concerns and practices. 111 participants completed the survey from a wide range of positions and roles within their organizations and projects, respectively. The working group analyzed the survey results with an eye for patterns, themes, correlations, and aggregates and produced a report in June 2020 detailing the process, survey methodology, and their analysis.

Several key findings emerged from the report, including:

  1. Data owners, maintainers and users are concerned about the trustworthiness of data throughout the lifecycle of the scientific process, especially with regard to the loss of reputation if data trustworthiness isn’t preserved.
  2. Data owners and maintainers welcome help in securing trustworthy data workflows with encryption, provenance, and regulatory compliance (e.g., FERPA, HIPAA, FISMA).
  3. Trustworthiness is not precisely defined in the scientific community.

This document, a follow-up to the analysis report mentioned above, delves into the key findings identified, explores the concerns reported and provides recommendations of existing solutions to address the survey participants’ concerns regarding trustworthiness of data.


The National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides supercomputing and advanced digital resources for the nation’s science enterprise. At NCSA, University of Illinois faculty, staff, students and collaborators from around the globe use these resources to address research challenges for the benefit of science and society. NCSA has been advancing many of the world’s industry giants for over 35 years by bringing industry, researchers and students together to solve grand challenges at rapid speed and scale.

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