At a time when data breaches can devastate operations, finances, and reputations, data masking tools serve as guardians for sensitive data, preventing exposure to unauthorized users. While advanced technologies like AI-generated synthetic data are gaining ground in maintaining data privacy, data masking is still essential for protecting your organization and its customers against cybersecurity threats.
This post explores the various types of data masking tools for data testing, demos, and analytics. We also highlight how Velotix’s intuitive dashboard makes managing data masking a seamless process, offering robust and user-friendly features tailored to meet contemporary data management challenges.
What are Test Data Masking Tools?
When organizations need to use real data without the associated risks of exposing sensitive information, data masking tools simplify the data obfuscation process by creating non-production copies that mimic the original data but make it virtually invisible to prying eyes. The process is essential software development, testing, and quality assurance environments when you need to safeguard data to comply with privacy requirements such as GDPR, CPRA, and CCPA.
Data masking “disguises” sensitive information through various processes, including data anonymization, which replaces sensitive data with fictitious yet realistic data, ensuring it remains useful for testing purposes. For instance, a real customer name is replaced with a pseudonym, preserving the format but protecting the individual’s identity.
Types of data masking tools include:
- Static data masking that replaces sensitive data with realistic information that’s fabricated but retains the original’s characteristics and structure.
- Dynamic data masking that offers up-to-the-minute data masking. Masking rules are automatically applied in real time, which ensures authorized users are the only ones who can view the true data; unauthorized users see obfuscated data.
- Open-source data masking that is a cost-efficient option but often require technical expertise to adequately implement and maintain.
- Commercial data masking provided by established software vendors that feature user-friendly interfaces and offer documentation and support.
- Cloud-based data masking solutions with easy cloud platform integration and native security measures.
- Custom-built data masking tools that use custom apps or scripts built with programming languages such as SQL, Python, and Java to create masking techniques specific to an organization’s needs.
- Vendor database solutions included in existing database management solutions.
Which data masking tool you choose depends on your organization’s requirements, including scalability, integration capabilities, and available resources.
Why Data Masking Tools Are Needed Now More Than Ever
Data masking tools have evolved significantly over the years, reflecting the changing landscape of data security and privacy requirements. Along the way, they’ve evolved from basic manual processes to static and dynamic data masking. Modern data masking tools use automation and integration to manage large datasets efficiently and provide a more cohesive approach to data privacy. The introduction of stringent data protection laws like GDPR and HIPAA made it necessary to create features that effectively handle consent management, data subject rights, and audit trails.
The latest tools use sophisticated algorithms like AI and machine learning to improve data masking’s efficiency and effectiveness, making it easier to identify and mask sensitive data. Cloud and hybrid environments offer solutions specifically for cloud databases, providing data security in cloud migrations and multi-cloud environments. These and other modern tools prioritize data security but also focus on maintaining data’s utility and integrity, ensuring masked data remains authentic and usable for testing and analysis.
Data Masking Tools: What to Look For
When selecting a data masking tool, you want one that meets your organization’s unique data security and privacy needs. Consider these key features when evaluating different solutions.
- Masking technique. Different masking techniques adapt to various types of data and privacy needs, including encryption, substitution, tokenization, shuffling, and data scrambling.
- Flexibility. Nearly every industry has certain data privacy regulations and laws with which it must comply. Your tool should allow for specifying and applying different masking rules that accommodate your organization’s unique sensitive data.
- Data integrity. An effective data masking tool maintains data consistency and integrity throughout the masking process, preserving referential integrity and facilitating accurate testing and analysis.
- Scalability. The tool you select should be able to manage large datasets efficiently with minimal system performance impact. It should also easily scale to accommodate your organization’s needs as data volume grows.
- Database integration. The best data masking tools integrate seamlessly with your existing infrastructure, ensuring a seamless data masking process without workflow disruption.
- Data discovery. Leading-edge data discovery features help identify sensitive data components in complex databases and make it easy to analyze data to determine the proper masking technique for various data types.
- Usability. An easy-to-navigate interface facilitates efficient masking and allows users with various levels of technological expertise to confidently use the tool.
- Support and documentation. Your chosen vendor should offer consistent, reliable support that includes documentation, training, and assistance. Patches and updates should be routinely applied to address security vulnerabilities and install new features.
In one month alone in 2023, cybercriminals compromised nearly 42 million records! Strong security features are critical for safeguarding sensitive information in the masking process, so choose a solution that provides sufficient key management and encryption solutions. You also want software with full auditing competencies that can generate logs and reports needed for compliance reporting.
Dynamic Data Masking Demystified: Tools and Techniques
Dynamic data masking tools protect sensitive data by obscuring it in a way that renders it unusable to unauthorized users but available to those who need it for legitimate purposes. They generally work by:
- Identifying sensitive data that needs to be masked, including names, addresses, social security numbers, health records, and financial details.
- Using various techniques to obscure data, replacing or altering data in a way that makes it unreadable or meaningless.
- Applying masking rules based on type, location, and user access level.
- Maintaining data integrity by preserving the data’s format and characteristics.
Use cases for protecting sensitive data in real-time include:
- Dynamic data masking in CRM systems of information like credit card numbers.
- Real-time data anonymization in healthcare settings where providers share patient data for research or third-party services.
- Using transaction data for testing new financial systems or updates in real time.
- Protecting telecommunication customer identities and sensitive information during system access or when sharing data with partners.
- Securing credit card information and personal data during online retail transactions.
Data masking tools, especially those capable of dynamic masking, provide the crucial layer of security and privacy your organization needs to use and share data safely in real time, ensuring compliance with regulations and protecting against data breaches.
Meeting Your Needs: Selecting the Right Data Masking Tool
The “right” tool is the one that meets your organization’s data masking tool requirements. For instance, if you’re a healthcare provider, you need a tool that’s HIPAA-compliant. Financial institutions typically need a scalable and efficient data masking tool that easily handles large volumes of complex transaction data and complies with regulations like SOX or GLBA. And telecom companies often require a solution that seamlessly integrates with their CRM systems.
You also want a tool flexible enough to handle different data types and able to scale to accommodate future growth. Essentially, you want a data masking solution that balances functionality, ease of use, integration capabilities, and cost.
Price is top-of-mind to most organizations about to invest in data masking software. What data masking tools cost varies based on features, scalability, and support services. Typical cost factors include setup, licensing fees, maintenance, and potential upgrades. Prioritizing tools that align with your organization’s specific needs ensures budget efficiency and continued value for your investment.
With its intuitive dashboard, AI-powered Velotix allows users to easily navigate through various data masking functions to protect sensitive information. It provides an impressive array of masking options, including static, dynamic, and on-the-fly, ensuring flexibility for data testing, demos, and analytics. This versatility ensures your organization chooses the best masking method based on specific context and data sensitivity. And since Velotix is designed for easy integration, there’s less hassle with system migrations and modifications. There’s simply no better solution for organizations that want to fortify their data security posture while navigating modern data management complexities.