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Business Processes, Privacy Leaks and Data Masking

Business Processes, Privacy Leaks and Data Masking

Data Masking is a simple and a lightweight technical solution for a fundamental business problem of data leaks

By Vitaly Dubravin

Data Masking is a simple and a lightweight technical solution for a fundamental business problem of data leaks. Yes, data leaks, contrary to a common misperception, are triggered not by the holes in our security systems, but by the business processes and  mysterious “business needs”.   Business decisions, often spontaneous, are responsible for most privacy violations and personal data leak disasters of the 21stcentury.

Amount of data accumulated in the computer systems worldwide is doubled every 11 hours (per IBM research) and it would be rational to blame IT for the inability to manage and protect big data. IT security budgets are exploding, corporate strategists put data protection on the top of CxO’s score card, and privacy challenges are getting into board meeting agendas.  You’d assume that spotlighting privacy protection should bring some tangible results, but the issue is only getting worse. Either corporate IT is managed by mentally retarded people worldwide, that is hard to believe, or we are looking for a solution in the wrong place. The Sony privacy disaster sequel is most recognizable by the public, but is not the only one. Wikileaks has vividly demonstrated how sensitive information can easily be obtained without hacking though whistleblowers and simple social engineering attacks. But the people being targeted in such attacks should not, for any practical reason, have access to datasets they’ve disclosed.

Vitaly Dubravin @ Security Conference

“The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat.” ― Confucius

Modern IT security technologies focus on intruders and efficiently block their ability to penetrate corporate infrastructure. Firewalls, VPNs, digital certificates, tokens, location-based access restrictions, and identity management are just a few to mention from the long list of protective measures.  These technologies allow authorized people to safely and securely access protected data and share it with strangers!  Here are just a few examples. Are you using production snapshots for development projects overseas? Was training facility dataset generated from the last month production backup? Do you allow a 3rd party marketing firm to work with very detailed account information to prove that their new campaign may generate millions? Data goes beyond the event horizon in all those cases and this is just the tip of the iceberg. What is the answer? The Data Masking.

Vitaly Dubravin's Data Masking Presentation @ Security Conference

Download Presentation

Data Masking is a process of obscuring data that replaces sensitive information with realistic, but not real data. It allows you to generate realistic datasets for all cases above without disclosing real customer information, meanwhile preserving data patters. Data Masking solution includes data discovery, data obfuscation and data subsetting and can work in batch (“static data masking”) and real-time (“dynamic data masking”) modes.  Data Masking does not encrypt or tokenize private data, but physically removes it from the places where sensitive information does not belong, thus enforcing “need to know” security rules. Masking makes whistleblower’s and social engineer’s work much harder or even impossible.  Learn more about data masking from my presentation “Security, Privacy, Compliance” at Data Connectors Tech-Security Conferences in Chicago, Milwaukee and Washington attached to this post.

The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat.”  ― Confucius

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