Best practices for data masking

We often hear news about the theft of confidential data, hackers breaking into a company’s secure storage, and scammers stealing credit card information of users. All of this goes to show that data breaches are a major issue in the digital world.

data maskingDespite the fact that there are a variety of data masking software and tools available to neutralize breach attempts, organizations still fail to keep hackers at bay. The reason is that companies don’t implement the right data masking strategies to protect their confidential information. Data masking, also called data obfuscation, replaces the sensitive data with fictitious values that appear realistic. Confidential information like names, patient health information or credit card numbers can be rendered inert with the help of data masking. However, the masked data can still be used by the organization.

In this article, we will lay down some of the best practices for data masking.

1. Use irreversible methods

If a company wants to mask their confidential data to protect it from hackers, it should use a tool that transforms confidential information in such a way that the transformed data cannot be changed back to the original. That way, even in the event the environment is compromised, there will be no way to revert back to original values and hackers will never be able to get their hands on the original data.

2. Focus on the environment

Environments that are used for development, backup, testing, and analytics represent a major area of risk for the breach of data. Any masking strategy should focus obfuscation methods on these environments to ensure that they are well-protected from hackers and scammers.

3. Referential integrity should be maintained

Tools should be used to consistently masked data. Even data that is derived from several heterogeneous sources should be masked consistently with the help of advanced data masking tools. This ensures that values stay preserved even after the data has been transformed.

4. Be quick to deliver masked data

Data keeps on changing and continues to evolve over time. Therefore, companies must repeatedly mask data and deliver it quickly through secured channels. If a company is developing a data masking strategy, then that strategy should encompass a safe way to easily and quickly move masked data downstream.

5. End-to-end approach is essential

Simply masking data isn’t enough. Organizations should have an approach for identifying sensitive information, applying the appropriate obfuscation method, and then audit data sources to ensure that protective strategies are working.

A data breach can be costly for any organization. Therefore, every organization should follow the best practices for data masking. This way, they can keep the confidential data of their company secured from hackers. In addition to following the practices discussed over, companies should consider using a data masking software to reduce the risk of breach.