How secure is my data?

Statistics Canada takes security and privacy very seriously. We take all the necessary precautions to secure your data through industry-standard encryption protocols, firewalls and encryption layers.

Who is responsible for the security of my information after I transmit my electronic questionnaire?

We are responsible for the security of your information once we receive it, and we take the necessary precautions to ensure the confidentiality of the data transmitted over the Internet. Using SSL encryption protects the information because it verifies the identity of the parties on both ends of the Internet connection before any confidential information is exchanged. Throughout the session, we take the necessary measures to maintain security.

How can I ensure that a hacker does not gain access to the personal information stored on my hard drive?

Unless you are using a firewall to prevent hackers from accessing your hard drive, we suggest that you remove any personal information, such as your electronic questionnaire responses, from your hard drive and store it on an external device or medium (e.g., USB key).

Be aware, if you install peer-to-peer networking products, such as those used on some popular Internet music sharing websites, a firewall may not protect your computer. Therefore, removing your personal data from your hard drive is again recommended. As a minimum precaution, make sure that you are not storing any personal data in a shared folder.

How can Statistics Canada be certain that it can stop illegal access to its electronic collection site?

We take every precaution to minimize risk and protect our systems from hackers. Secure sockets layer (SSL) protocol enhances the security of the information passing from your browser to our servers. SSL protocol encrypts the information to ensure that data are transmitted and authenticated safely. Data cannot be compromised when SSL is in use. This is the most secure form of encryption widely available in North America.

In other words, SSL breaks down your electronic questionnaire responses into small, separate packages of information called packets. These encrypted packets are sent to the Internet individually, like pieces of a puzzle, each individually addressed. Once they have all reached the safety of our secure servers, they are transferred to our internal servers, deleted from our external servers, reassembled and then decrypted.

Sophisticated security techniques, such as firewalls, are used to protect your information. For security reasons, we cannot give more details about these techniques.

What if I have a firewall or anti-virus software?

If you have a firewall, you may have problems connecting to our secure servers. You may need to change the settings on your firewall to allow communication between our server and your computer. The same applies to anti-virus software. If you have a network administrator, they may be of assistance for this type of issue.

What can I do to ensure the security of my information after an online session?

It is important to clear your browser’s cache after an online session to prevent someone from being able to view your information later. Most browsers cache images or files that you have viewed and store them locally to improve performance. Some browsers have an option to not cache encrypted sessions.

What systems/processes does Statistics Canada have in place to ensure the security and confidentiality of respondent information if electronic systems fail?

To protect the confidentiality of respondents’ information, Statistics Canada has layers of security hardware, software, and processes in place, in accordance with best practices recommended by the industry and government. In the event of a system failure, there are safeguards in place to prevent access to respondents’ data.

What if I get a message “Connection timed out” or “Page is not available”?

Here are some suggestions if you get one of the above messages:

  • Ensure that your browser is set to accept cookies and has Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) bit technology.
  • Clear your cache.
  • Ensure that all firewalls (external or other) are configured to allow file uploads.
  • If you have a router, make sure that it allows file uploads and that the maximum transmission unit (MTU) is correct, (this number may need to be adjusted, depending on the operating system).
  • Try another browser.
  • Ensure that you do not have a virus on your computer.
  • If all else fails, try another computer.

If you are using a computer connected to a local area network (LAN), such as a computer at work, the security settings on that computer may prevent you from accessing Statistics Canada’s online surveys. Try a computer at home or a computer not connected to a LAN.