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st: Encrypting and decrypting a field


From   bobf@pacbell.net
To   statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu
Subject   st: Encrypting and decrypting a field
Date   Thu, 31 Mar 2005 08:23:36 -0800

I will be receiving data files that include as the primary ID a social security number (SSN). Yes, using SSNs as IDs is a worrisome practice, but the agency we are dealing with is not going to change this policy, at least in the near term.

I am obligated to protect the privacy of this information, and if the data production were a one-time event, I could use some variant of a uniformly distributed random number to generate an alternative ID and keep the cross-walk between the SSN and the uniform random number locked in a separate location. However, there will be ongoing updates that will require match merges based on the SSN, along with the addition of new cases to the population.

Has anyone on the list developed code for encrypting/decrypting a field that they could send me? I know that there is C++ code in the free Cryptlib toolkit but I would prefer not to have to plunge into this unless it's really necessary.

Thanks.

Bob

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