University of Wisconsin–Madison

Section IV: SSCC Computing Resources and Accessing Silo

SSCC General Support

The SSCC web site contains many helpful publications with general computing help.

SSCC also offers group training and individual support for programs they make available.

For questions and support, contact the SSCC helpdesk.

Silo Environments for Programmers and Researchers

Silo is the SSCC’s restricted data environment, made up of two environments with different levels of security. Both consist of an isolated file system and servers for running analysis with statistical software installed.

RD is appropriate for data sets classified as fully-identified “Protected Health Information” (PHI) under HIPAA and other data with similar requirements.  IRP programming staff have access to Silo RD as they work with personally identifying information and fully-identified protected health information.

Silo (previously referred to as “Silo LDS”) is appropriate for data sets classified as “Limited Data Sets” under HIPAA and other data with similar security requirements. Researchers using state administrative data use this Silo environment.

Once everything is set up, using Silo is very similar to using WinStat, but there are some additional steps required at set up (such as two-factor authentication). The security measures required by the kinds of data Silo was built to work with do impose some limitations:

  • Silo cannot access the Internet
  • Stata ado files and R packages must be installed by the system administrators
  • You cannot copy and paste between Silo and your own computer
  • Silo cannot access disk space on your computer
  • You cannot print from Silo
  • Silo does not have as much software installed as Winstat

Read the following article from SSCC about setting up and using Silo, including information on setting up 2-factor authentication:

Before gaining access to Silo, researchers must first sign the SSCC Silo Access Agreement.

Remote Computing Policies

If you will be working with and accessing IRP individual-level data on Silo from a remote location (outside of the Social Science building):

  1. Only access Silo in a non-public place, such as another campus office location, or your home office. Do not access Silo while in computer labs, libraries, common spaces, coffee shops, restaurants, etc.
  2. Run up-to-date anti-virus software and install security updates on your PC or laptop.

Also, please remember that laptops and other portable electronic devices are often the targets of theft.  This is one of the reasons that it is prohibited to store research data on any hard drives or removable media.  This is also why SSCC login and password information should not be “saved” in any of software programs on your computer, laptop, or portable electronic device.

SSCC offers articles on remote computing methods in their knowledge base:

UW-Madison Office of Campus Information Security has more information about securing your home computer and offers free Anti-virus software:

If you will be accessing data on silo, please be sure you have read the SSCC publication Using Silo.

Continue to SECTION V of the manual.