Data security and encryption


Data Security is the protection of data from unauthorized access, use, change, disclosure and destruction.  UVA classifies data as either highly sensitive, moderately sensitive, or non-sensitive (public), and the requirements for data security are different for each one. The University Data Protection Standards (behind NetBadge) provides guidance on the requirements for each type.

Make sure your data is safe in regards to:

  • Network security
    • Keep confidential data off the internet
    • Put highly sensitive materials on computers not connected to the internet
  • Physical Security
    • Restrict access to buildings and rooms where computers or media are kept
    • Only let trusted individuals troubleshoot computer problems
  • Computer Systems & Files
    • Keep virus protection up to date
    • Don’t sent confidential data via e-mail or FTP (use encryption, if you must)
    • Use strong passwords on files and computers


Encryption offers protection by scrambling data, so only the owner of the key or password can read the data.  This protects the confidentiality of the data so that if an unauthorized person gained access to the storage device or service, they would be unable to see the data.  It also protects the integrity of the data so that it cannot be tampered with without the owner knowing it.

VPN: A VPN scrambles data as it is transmitted between your mobile device and a server. This allows you to access sensitive data securely stored on a remote server. UVA offers three types of VPNs for accessing resources: the UVA Anywhere VPN, the UVA More Secure Network (MSN), and the High Security VPN.

  • UVA Anywhere VPN: Provides an off-Grounds connection to resources that normally require you to be on Grounds to use them such as Library resources, the UVA Home Directory Service, the Exchange Server, servers restricted by departments, etc. It provides an on-Grounds IP address for all applications on your computer, thereby protecting all network traffic, whether or not it is Web-based, between your machine and the UVA network.
  • UVa More Secure Network (MSN): The MSN uses a firewall, a network security device designed to help protect your computer from hackers and other malicious people on the Internet. Your computer can make outbound connections to access resources on the internet, but the firewall blocks inbound connections from remote computers.
  • Joint VPN: Enables academic users access to resources protected by the highest security using a UVA Identity Token, from on- or off-grounds.

Hard Drive: When you have no option other than to store sensitive data on your hard drive, and such storage has been approved, you must encrypt your hard drive or the relevant files on your hard drive. If you lose your computer or electronic media, the encryption will protect the data, and render it invisible to anyone but you, since you alone know the password.

Windows computers running Windows 10 should use the Bitlocker utility which can encrypt both full drives and folders.  Information for computers that are running Windows 7 are available from Microsoft. FAQs for Windows 7. Mac computers should use the Disk Utility which can create encrypted folders, or FileVault which can encrypt full disks. Additional information about Disk Utility.

Additional information about protecting sensitive data and the options that are approved by UVA.

Information Security Office (ISPRO)