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The Global Poverty Research Lab at the Northwestern University

Javier Madrazo (The Global Poverty Research Lab of the Northwestern University)
Javier Madrazo

The Global Poverty Research Lab (Northwestern University)

Keeping Research Projects Secure: The Global Poverty Research Lab at the Northwestern University

The Global Poverty Research Lab (GPRL) is a research center based at Northwestern University. Their aim is to help people globally improve their standard of living through generating empirical evidence on the effectiveness of policies and programs.

With the help of Boxcryptor, confidential data of individuals throughout the project is securely encrypted and protected from unauthorized access throughout the cycle of their projects. This way, the Global Poverty Research Lab can successfully examine the way poverty intersects with topics like finance, entrepreneurship, education, gender, and more, while not having to worry about data breaches.

Sensitive Data of University Projects Secure in the Cloud

For projects, especially at universities, it is important to enable collaboration in the cloud while keeping sensitive data secure. Students and professors need to be able to access their project data from anywhere. They need security software which does not require excessive knowledge of IT, allowing them to keep up with their current workflow. Through privacy-compliant encryption, students’ projects and work are stored securely and accessibly in the cloud.

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Interview with Javier Madrazo from the GPRL

We talked to Javier Madrazo from the GPRL at the Northwestern University on why they chose Boxcryptor to secure their project work and surveys, what problems the GPRL solves with the encryption solution, and why it is important to their organization.

“How did you first find out about Boxcryptor?”

Javier: I personally first found out about Boxcryptor when I started working at the lab over three years ago. The security of survey respondents’ personal information has been of the utmost importance to us since the lab was established, so Boxcryptor has been an indispensable tool for us ever since.

“Why did you decide to use Boxcryptor?”

Javier: Our lab conducts human subjects research, which includes collecting survey data from households. Boxcryptor’s encryption software allows us to securely store people’s sensitive information and helps us to ensure that only people with permission to access this data can do so. Maintaining the highest standards on data security is a crucial component of the Respect for Persons ethical principle of human subjects research and is required by Institutional Review Boards (IRBs).

“What problem does Boxcryptor solve for GPRL?”

Javier: Boxcryptor allows us to have a very granular level of control over permissions to access certain files and folders. This allows us to make sure only people who are approved by an IRB to access people’s personal identifiable information (PII) can have access to those files.

“How did you experience the onboarding phase?”

Javier: Our employees quickly get used to working securely with Boxcryptor. As part of our onboarding process, we have a Boxcryptor tutorial session where we cover important topics on data security, such as encrypting data, managing permissions, and ensuring data is stored safely.

“How do you use Boxcryptor in your every day’s work?”

Javier: On a day-to-day basis, full datasets containing PII are kept encrypted using Boxcryptor. Only staff working with data containing PII use Boxcryptor. Staff members who do not work on data analysis or who only look at the results of the analysis rather than the data itself do not use Boxcryptor often.

“Why is Boxcryptor essential for GPRL?”

Javier: Privacy and data protection is a crucial part of what we do. Households share their personal information with us, which comes with the responsibility of guarding this data and holding ourselves to the highest standards of data security. For that reason, Boxcryptor is an essential tool for our work.

“To whom would you recommend Boxcryptor?”

Javier: To anyone who needs to keep data securely stored. I would recommend it to anyone storing sensitive information, such as the data we collect as human subjects researchers.