What is Data Masking?

2017 has brought with it back to back news about data security breaches around the world: criminal charges brought due to the hacking of over 500 million Yahoo accounts, American Express notified customers that their information may have been compromised, and the infamous Ransomware attack, which created havoc around the world, as it affected data security in government agencies, universities, hospitals, and private businesses in about 150 countries.

This is why, despite the traditional ways to protect your data (firewalls, updating software, backing up information, scanning for viruses, etc…), you need to up your game to cover all your bases. This is where data masking comes in.

So what is it, and how does it work?

Every single business has sensitive data. Whether they are trade secrets or employees’ social security numbers, you have a fiduciary duty towards your organization and the people working for you to protect it. By utilizing data masking, as the name implies, you are obscuring sensitive information and replacing it with proxy data.

You can then used the masked data while it’s in transit, or when testing out security software. It’s also useful when your employees do not need to be privy to all of your business data, but do need to have some access to it (such as banks, hospitals, or credit card companies’ employees).

How is it different from encryption?

One of the most valuable tools of data masking is that once you mask the information, it is irreversible. Using the employees example above, you wouldn’t want to make client’s credit card or banking information available to people working at your call centers. This would expose your clients to identity theft and your business to potential litigation. Your employees will still be able to read some of the information, but won’t be able to unmask what you’ve obfuscated.

With encryption, information is completely scrambled and illegible to anyone who sees it. However, the intended recipient would be able to unscramble the information once it is received.

How do I pick out the best data masking for my business?

         Masking data is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Depending on what type of protection you need and the amount of information that needs to be concealed, there’s a myriad of options available for you. If you’re at a loss about how to move forward with data masking, Soaring Eagle Consulting can help. Contact us and let’s talk about what we can do for you.