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Cybersecurity at the U.S Census Bureau Means Strict and Innovative Safeguards

Josefina Hicho

As the country celebrates National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the nation’s leading provider of quality data — the U.S. Census Bureau — wants you to know that our highest priority is keeping the data we collect safe.

How does the Census Bureau keep your information safe?

Not even Census Bureau employees can access all the data the agency collects.

Census 2020 Logo

Read below for examples of the measures and tactics the Census Bureau uses to ensure the data on the nation’s 328.7 million people — and counting — remains confidential and secure not only when collected but also when it’s stored.

Starting With a Data Stewardship Culture

Knowing that culture is at the core of successful and secure operations, the Census Bureau is focused on maintaining a strong data stewardship culture and integrating it into day-to-day thinking and decision-making.

This approach encompasses our employees, processes and technology working together to protect data as dictated by law in Title 13 of the U.S. Code. The Census Bureau’s chief information officer recently discussed our data stewardship culture in his blog.

It is a team effort, and every Census Bureau employee knows the importance of protecting respondent information. This is not a new concept for the Census Bureau, which has ensured privacy through decades of practice, training and behavior. 

Using Advanced Cloud and Physical Security Design Principles

Following industry best practices, we have designed our systems with layered defense to protect our networks from external threats, manage and secure data inside the network, and enable our ability to immediately isolate any portion network, if an anomaly is detected. The design enables us to assure you your data is safe and continuously sustain survey service to the American public.

Think of an apartment building that has a secure entry system at the main door, deadbolt locks on each apartment door, motion detectors in the hallways, and alarms on each of the windows. If someone enters through the main door, there are several additional security features that protect valuables inside each apartment.

Continuously Improving Our Security Posture

Because the security threat landscape continues to evolve, we have implemented leading industry tools and techniques to strengthen our security posture and protect data from a potential breach.

While we are able to share with the public our use of some security tactics like two-factor authentication, data encryption and system monitoring, we protect our overall cybersecurity strategy so that potential adversaries are not aware of our approach.

Preventing disruptions to our systems while ensuring our readiness to respond against increasing and sophisticated threats is a never-ending effort. We continually work with cybersecurity experts to ensure we stay abreast of critical knowledge, advanced techniques and up-to-date technology to protect your data, especially during the 2020 Census.

Limited Access Ensures Data Security and Privacy

Not even Census Bureau employees can access all the data the agency collects. To safeguard your data, the Census Bureau limits access to the information and constantly monitors the systems to make sure the information stays secure.

From the moment a respondent answers a census or survey to the time the statistical data are released, the information is protected and kept anonymous.

Cybersecurity Community

Understanding that we are stronger through partnerships, the Census Bureau works with the federal intelligence community and industry experts to stay abreast of emerging cyber threats, identify counter measures, and make the most informed decisions to protect the data we collect and maintain.

We share expertise and learn from each other to improve our ability to respond quickly and collectively to any cyber threat. Our vigilance starts with identifying and detecting problems and continues with protecting, responding and recovering from cybersecurity challenges.

Your Role in Securing Your Information

While our dedicated cybersecurity experts work continuously to protect the data we collect and store in our system, we also know that you have a role to play to protect your information on your personal devices and internet connections.

To ensure your data remains protected at all times, we encourage you to visit:

Contact Us

We know the accuracy of our statistics depends on the accuracy of the data we collect. If you suspect “phishing” or other scams, contact the Census Bureau’s regional office for your state or the Census Bureau’s National Processing Center immediately for verification and further instructions.

 

Josefina Hicho is a Census Bureau public affairs specialist.

 

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America Counts tells the stories behind the numbers in a new inviting way. We feature stories on various topics such as families, housing, employment, business, education, the economy, emergency management, health, population, income and poverty.

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