When linking or integrating data, we use a separate, secure computer network in the Data Integration Services Centre (DISC) which is not connected to the Internet or to any other AIHW system. Once the data is linked, researchers can access it through the DISC data lab, a locked room within DISC that requires authorised entry. Only DISC staff, the systems manager and approved users can use this network and the data lab.

The AIHW uses best practice technology, procedures and policies to protect data including:

  • changing passwords regularly
  • locking out accounts after three failed attempts
  • testing application software updates and applying them as soon as practical after release
  • constantly updating anti-virus software
  • hardening desktops to prevent users from installing software or tampering with the system.

Before integrated data is ready for a researcher to use, DISC staff must confirm that the dataset:

  1. only contains variables agreed with the data custodian
  2. has had first-level confidentiality protection applied (for example, collapsing values on certain variables), as agreed with data custodians.

Only then is the data moved to the data lab where the researcher can access it.

Each data lab user is assigned their own personal virtual computing environment and the computers in the data lab can only be used to connect to this virtual environment.

Data can be freely manipulated in the data lab to produce output in the formats researchers require.

All output is stored in a temporary work area during the researcher’s session. When the researcher is confident they have produced the output they need, the data is moved to a checking area. Here it becomes available only to an AIHW user who ensures the data is confidential and suitable for release.

In summary, access is provided to individuals for each stage of a project. This allows the AIHW to determine and log all access rights to the data throughout the process.

At the end of the project, and as per the data retention date, AIHW uses sdelete (Microsoft) to remove all files relating to a project from hard disk. Data is overwritten on a four-weekly cycle, in line with DISC data retention and backup cycle procedures. Data is encrypted as part of the archive process, performed using Commvault.