What is Data Obfuscation?
As the name suggests, data obfuscation is the process of hiding sensitive data with modified or other data to secure it. Many are often confused by the term data obfuscation and what it entails, as it is a broad term used for several data security techniques such as anonymization, pseudonymization, masking, encryption, and tokenization.
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.
Let’s look at some of the best practices you can follow for data obfuscation:
1) Understand your options
It is vital to understand the difference between different data obfuscation techniques such as anonymization and pseudonymization, and encryption, masking, and tokenization. Unless you’re knowledgeable about the various methods of data security and their benefits, you cannot make an informed choice to fulfill your data security needs.
2) Keep in mind the purpose of your data
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 functionality of the data while ensuring security. The method of obfuscation chosen should facilitate the purpose for which your data is intended.
3) Enable regulatory compliance
Of course, data security is a broader term when compared to compliance, but does being secure mean you’re compliant too? Data protection standards and laws such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, 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. Security and compliance are not the same – ensure both.
4) Follow the principle of least privilege
The principle of least privilege is 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.
5) Use repeatable and irreversible techniques
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.
While data obfuscation is important to ensure the protection of your sensitive data, security experts must ensure that they do not implement a solution just to tick a check box. Data Security solutions, when implemented correctly can go a long way to save millions of dollars in revenue for the organization.