What are the risks?

If your research is obtained by an unauthorized third-party, you and your research could be affected in a number of other ways.

Unwanted access and potential interference: Research data can be accessed without consent or subject to interference and tampering if obtained by a malicious actor. The effects of these actions could have significant impacts on a researcher or research team’s trust and credibility. In extreme cases it could lead to a loss of control over data or findings, if another individual patents your research or restricts access to it by other means. It is important to monitor which individuals have access to your research data, assessing and determining whether privileged access is necessary.

Theft of research data: Your research data may be at risk of theft or misappropriation, which may result in lost work, effort, professional recognition and benefit, and possible monetary loss. Good research security and cyber hygiene practices can minimize the risk of theft and ensure that your research remains in your control.

Loss of intellectual property, patent opportunities, and potential revenue: Knowledge generated from your research could hold significant future commercial value, which may not be immediately apparent. It is important to be aware of the potential commercial applications of your research so that you can respond appropriately to the level of risk. If your research discoveries or ideas are diverted to others - including other countries - without your knowledge, this could reduce potential commercial opportunities stemming from your research or work.

Legal or administrative reprisal: Whether intentional or not, failure to comply with legislation may expose you to administrative sanctions, litigation, or criminal charges. As a result, you should familiarize yourself with relevant laws from the outset of your research project or partnership. Breaches of confidential information may infringe on your institutional policies, your partnership agreements or the Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy of the Federal Research Funding Organizations. As a result, your existing or potential partners may lose confidence in your abilities to hold confidential information in the future. In addition, a breach of the Tri-Agency Framework on the Responsible Conduct of Research can lead to a range of recourse, including ineligibility for future federal funding opportunities.

Loss of potential future partnerships: If a commercial or international partner loses confidence in your ability to safeguard research, it may prevent you from securing future funding. Research partners may not invest or renew their support if an industry competitor gains access to their confidential information and research data.

Tarnished reputation: Conducting research in a way that fosters trusting relationships across all partners is vital to safeguarding your research. If it becomes known that your research has been used for military, strategic, or technological advancement by another country, this may have an impact on your reputation and that of your institution, which can harm your future success.

See some possible scenarios that illustrate how a breach in the security of your research could impact you, your institution, and future prospects.