The need for data obfuscation is omnipresent, with companies needing to achieve business objectives such as auditing, cross-border data sharing, and the like. Apart from this, the high rate of cybercrime is also a pressing reason for companies to invest in technology that can help protect their data, especially now, given the remote working condition due to the CoVid pandemic.
Despite the widespread use and importance of data obfuscation, many are often confused by the term and what it entails.
Let’s look at how you might be going wrong with data obfuscation:
- Not knowing your options
Data obfuscation includes several methods of data protection, and it is vital to understand the difference between each of those techniques – anonymization and pseudonymization, and encryption, masking, and tokenization. Unless you’re knowledgeable about the various methods of data obfuscation and their benefits, you cannot make an informed choice to fulfill your data security needs.
- Security or Functionality?
Of course, the need of the hour is to secure your data. But every data element has a specific purpose. For example, if the data is needed for analytical purposes, you cannot go ahead with a simple encryption algorithm and expect good results. You need to select a technique, such as masking, that will preserve the data’s functionality without compromising security. The method of obfuscation chosen should facilitate the purpose for which your data is intended.
- Compliance takes a back seat
Of course, data security is a broader term when compared to compliance, but being secure doesn’t mean you’re compliant too. Data protection standards and laws such as HIPAA, PCI, GDPR, and CCPA are limited to a defined area and aim to secure that particular information. So, it is imperative to figure out which of those laws you are required to comply with and implement procedures in place to ensure the same. You don’t want to do well in security only to hit a wall with compliance – make sure you are doing both.
- Do you know who has access to your data?
How many people have access to your sensitive information, and how many of them really need that access? If you find that a lot of them have unnecessary access, this increases the chances of your sensitive information falling into the wrong hands, or worse, being misused. In such cases, it’s advisable to follow the principle of least privilege – the idea that any user, program, or process should have only the bare minimum privileges necessary to perform its function. It works by allowing only enough access to perform the required job. Apart from hiding sensitive data from those unauthorized, data obfuscation techniques like dynamic data masking can also be used to provide user-based access to private information.
- Are your techniques repeatable and irreversible?
For the most part, wherever applicable, it would be advisable to use reliable techniques that produce the same results every time. And even if the data were to be seized by a hacker, it shouldn’t be reversible. Repeatable and irreversible techniques are more secure when it comes to protecting your data.
Although the guidelines mentioned above are not specific to any one method of data obfuscation or company objective, following them will enable a robust security posture overall.