Security sensitive research and encryption

Security sensitive research

When undertaking your research project, please consider whether the Guidance Policy for Security Sensitive Material applies to you.

Security sensitive materials are defined as:

  • Materials that are covered by the Official Secrets Act 1989 and the Terrorism Act 2006
  • Materials that could be considered ‘extremist’ according to the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015
  • Defined as ‘vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs
  • Materials that require security clearance before accessing.

It should be noted that other material could be regarded as security sensitive, and, if in doubt, researchers should consult their relevant Research Ethics Officer. Work commissioned by the Ministry of Defence is handled separately under MOD regulations.

Staff and students conducting research involving security sensitive materials, and those affected indirectly by such research, are reminded that they should consider not only UK regulations but also the regulations from wherever in the world the research may be linked or carried out. Material could be in audio, visual and written formats and may include, but is not limited to; online, digital, electronic, telecommunication or hard copy sources. Full details can be found in the Guidance Policy for Security Sensitive Material.

Guidance for researchers and research managers

It is important that you:

NOTE: You will need to complete a secure laptop agreement form which should be attached to the service desk request. This is to provide IT services with information about the project and its schedule, as well as, the researcher understanding what needs to happen with the data once the project is completed.


The research secure laptops have an encryption feature enabled. BitLocker is a built-in Windows feature that encrypts one or more hard drives on a computer. It helps prevent data theft from lost, stolen or inappropriately decommissioned computers. For example, BitLocker prevents a thief from reading a hard drive by transferring it from the stolen machine to another computer. BitLocker will not prevent data theft if an attacker knows the user's logon credentials 

How it works

On powering up the laptop and before the logon screen, you’ll be presented with a screen to input the access code. This will then go through to the normal log on windows menu for you to put in your normal Brookes credentials. 

Other ways to keep secure

2-step verification for your Google account

All users of University email and document storage are advised to activate the Google "2-step verification"* feature which adds an extra layer of security to your account when you log into Google for your email, calendar and documents. Simple steps to set this up can be found at: online. You will need to have your mobile phone with you.

File transfer via encryption

File encryption is increasingly considered as a robust means of protecting sensitive and/or confidential documents whether or not they are to be shared. The University has two tools for use with Windows and MacOs computers: 7-zip and Keka.

The IT Service Desk will be happy to assist with installation and use of these encryption tools.