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Frequently Asked Questions

VT SURE is the Virginia Tech Secure University Research Environment. It is a partnership between Research and Innovation and the Division of IT to give Virginia Tech researchers a centralized, accessible, scalable, and administered space in the cloud for data storage and analysis, balancing security and compliance with user-friendly features that enable collaboration. It will provide a compliant space for research data that contain sensitive identifiable information as well as HIPAA-protected health information.

VT SURE is still in development, but we are currently piloting a version of the environment that is being tested by a small group of researchers. An initial wider release of the environment is planned for early 2023. If you would like to consider being one of our first users, please contact us at

VT SURE is a HIPAA-compliant system that can be used to safely store and analyze personally identifiable, sensitive data, including health information, in a wide variety of formats. If your research project requires compliance with export controls or controlled unclassified protections, please contact the Office of Export and Secure Research Compliance (OESRC) at for guidance.

VT SURE allows researchers to store and analyze sensitive research data while maintaining compliance with regulatory standards, including HIPAA and other sponsor requirements. VT SURE maintains a private cloud environment that works through virtual desktops, enabling data protections for meeting the recommendations and requirements of applicable regulatory and information security bodies.

Data are protected using best practice security safeguards that include encryption for the storage and transmission of data, controlled data access, two-factor authentication, and continuous monitoring for availability and threat detection. 

VT SURE allows research teams to access data and conduct analyses in a shared workspace that can be flexibly configured and is equipped with a variety of analytical tools. We will soon be posting a complete listing of software and R packages that will be available in the environment. Users may bring in their own data, tools, algorithms, and statistical software to the VT SURE research space. To learn more, contact

Authorized students can access the system under the supervision of a principal investigator. The total number of researchers who can access the research environment is unlimited.

No. VT SURE is available to researchers as a service to assist them in meeting privacy requirements of sensitive data. Researchers may use other resources that meet the security needs of the particular data types being collected and analyzed.

In the future, yes. VT SURE is designed to facilitate collaboration with co-investigators other institutions, however, the initial launch will provide the environment to researchers within the Virginia Tech community.  Following the initial deployment, development of the platform will continue and the capability for collaborating with other universities in the U.S. and globally is part of the VT SURE plan.

We will be estimating costs during our VT SURE pilot and early use phase.  We will update this information as soon as it is available.