Science-IT data policy


This was originally developed at CS, but applies to all departments managed by the Science-IT team.

In Aalto, large amounts of data with variety of requirements are being processed daily. This describes the responsibilities of IT support and users with respect to data management.

Everyone should know the summary items below. The full policy is for reference in case of doubts (items in bold are things which are not completely obvious).

This policy is designed to avoid the most common problems by advance planning for the majority case. Science-IT is eager to provide a higher level of service for those who need it, but users must discuss with staff. This policy is jointly implemented by department IT and Science-IT.

Summary for users

  • Do not store research data in home directories, this is not accessible should something happen to you or when you leave. They will be automatically deleted.

  • Project directories are accessible to ALL members, files not intended for access by ALL members should be stored in a separate project.

  • Workstations and mobile devices are NOT backed up. Directories with backups are noted. It is your responsible to make sure that you store in backed up places. Don’t consider only disk failure, but also user error, loss of device, etc.

  • Data stored in project directories is managed by the (professor, supervisor) who owns the directory, and they can make decisions regarding access now and in the future. Any special considerations should be discussed with them.

  • Data is not archived or saved for individual users. Data which must be saved should be in a shared project directory with an owner who is still at Aalto. Triton’s individual users data is permantently deleted after 6 months from the expiration date of the user account (Aalto home directories may be deleted even sooner).

  • There is no default named security level - of course we keep all data secure, but should you be dealing with legally confidential files, you must ask us.

Summary for data directory owners (professors or long-term staff)

  • Data in the shared directories controlled by you and you make decisions on it.

  • All data within a project is accessible by all members of that project. Make more projects if more granularity is needed.

  • Data must have an expiration time, and this is extended as needed. Improperly managed data is not stored indefinitely. If data is long-term archived, it must still have an administrative owner at Aalto who can make decisions about it.

  • There must be a succession plan for the data, should the data owner leave or become unavailable to answer questions. By default this is the supervisor or department head. They will make decisions about access, management, and end-of-life.

  • We will try to handle whatever data you may need us to. The only prerequisite is that it is managed well. We can’t really define “managed well”, but at least it means you know what it contains and where the space is going.

Detailed policy

This is the detailed policy. The important summary for users and owners is above, but the full details are written below for avoidance of doubts.


  1. This policy concerns all data stored in the main provided locations or managed by Science-IT staff (including its core departments).


  1. In data processing and rules we follow Finnish legislation and Aalto university policies in this order.

  2. If there are agreements with a third party organization for data access those rules are honored next. Regarding this type of data we must be consulted first prior to the storing the data.

  3. Users are expected to follow all Aalto and CS policies, as well as good security practices.

  4. IT is expected to provided a good service, data security, and instruction on best practices.


  1. All data must have owner and given lifespan. Data cannot be stored indefinitely, but of course lifespan is routinely extended when needed. There are other long-term archival services.

  2. Work related data should always be stored outside users HOME directory. HOME is meant only for private and non-work related files. (IT staff is not allowed to retrieve lost research files from a user’s home directory)

  3. Other centrally available folders (i.e. Project, Archive, Scratch) than HOME are meant for work related information only.

  4. Desktop computers are considered as stateless. They can be re-installed at any point by IT if necessary. Data stored on local workstations is always considered as temporary data and is not backed up. IT support will still try to inform users of changes.

  5. Backed-up data locations are listed. It is the user’s responsibility to ensure that data is stored in backed-up locations as needed. Mobile devices (laptops) and personal workstations are not backed up.

Ownership, and access rights, and end-of-life

  1. Access rights in this policy refer only to file system rights. Other rights (e.g. IPR) to the stored information are not part of this policy.

  2. There must be a clear owner and chain of responsibility (successor) for all data (who owns it and can make decisions and who to ask when they leave or become unavailable).

  3. For group directories (e.g. project, archive, scratch), file system permissions (possibility to read, write, copy, modify and delete) of these files belongs to group. There is not more granular access, for example single files with more restrictive permissions. Permissions will be fixed by IT on request from group members.

  4. The group owner-on-file can make any decisions related to data access, management, or end-of-life.

  5. Should a data owner of a group directory become unavailable or unable to answer questions about access, management, or end-of-life, the successor they named may make decisions regarding the data access, including end-of-life. This defaults to their supervisor (e.g. head of department), but should be discussed on data opening.

  6. Triton data stored on folders that are not group directories (e.g. the content of /scratch/work/USERNAME or /home/USERNAME) will be permanently deleted after 6 months from the user’s account expiration. Please remember to back up your data if you know that your account is expiring soon. (Note that Aalto home directory data may be removed even earlier)

  7. Should researchers need a more complex access scheme, this must be discussed with IT support.


  1. Unless there is a notification, there is no particular guaranteed service level regarding confidential data. However, all services are expected to be as secure as possible and are designed to support confidential data.

  2. Should a specific security level be needed, that must be agreed separately.

  3. Data stored to the provided storage location is not encrypted at rest.

  4. Confidentiality is enforced by file system permissions will be set and access changes will be always confirmed from data owner.

  5. All storage medium (hard drives, etc), should be securely wiped to the extend technically feasible at end of life. This is handled by IT, but if it is required it must be handled by the end users.

  6. All remote data access should use strong encryption.

  7. Users must notify IT support or their supervisor about any security issues or misuse of data.

  8. Security of laptops, mobile devices and personal devices is not currently guaranteed by IT support. Confidential data should use centralized IT-provided services only.

  9. Users and data owners must take primary responsibility for data security, since technical security is only one part of the process.


  1. Details about centrally provided folders and best practices are available in online documentation.

  2. Changes to policy will be coordinated by department management. All changes will at least be announced to data owners, but individual approvals are not needed unless a service level drops.