When conducting research projects in Business, Economics, and the Social Sciences, researchers often need to deal with sensitive data. These sensitive data require increased security standards in information infrastructure and research data centers can‘t provide sensitive data openly due to data protection or confidentiality reasons. Researchers can usually only access sensitive data through on-site guest working stations at research data centers, thus, analyzing sensitive data often involves travelling and might handicap international research projects. This became even more obvious during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020/2021 when many research data centers were physically closed.
To allow researchers to access and analyze sensitive data remotely in a secure environment, we developed the BERD Desktop, a secure virtual desktop.
The BERD Desktop is running in a virtual machine as secured docker container on bwCloud and can be accessed through a secured remote virtual desktop. We set up data analysis tools and frameworks typically needed in the Social Sciences there, such as RStudio, Python and Stata. Only data administrators of ZEW can upload data to the BERD Desktop (folder “input”). Besides login, users do not have further internet access within the BERD Desktop so they can‘t upload, download or install anything on their own. Editing permission is limited to the folder “output” where researchers can store the results of their analysis. Our data administrators will eventually transfer the results to make sure they do not contain any sensitive data.
The BERD Desktop enables researchers to access and analyze the data of the research data center of the ZEW remotely. If you are interested in working with these data, please contact Sandra Gottschalk.
This tool was developed as part of the project BERD@BW funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of Baden-Württemberg from 2019 to 2022.