Disclosure Risk Assessment Step 2

| November 30, 2020

Key variables are your indirect identifiers that are most likely to lead to a disclosure whereas keys are all the unique combinations of values those indirect identifiers take. For the key variables ‘Marital Status’ and ‘Gender’ you could have keys such as ‘Married, Female’, ‘Married, Male’ and ‘Single, Female’. The number of times, or the frequency, a given key appears in a dataset is the basis for many disclosure risk measures.


| November 30, 2020

Selecting key variables does take some practice. When in doubt, we recommend you working with a few colleagues to do the selection. You can also select different sets of key variables and run a disclosure risk assessment on each. Finally, remember that it is important for you to have an understanding of the data environment before selecting the key variables. Selecting key variables correctly requires you to make assumptions about the data that others are likely to have access to as well as whether specific data is sensitive in your context (even if it might not be considered sensitive in another context).