Difference between Data Masking and Data Obfuscation

Key Difference: Data Masking or data obfuscation refers to the process that helps in concealing private data. It is also referred to as Data anonymization. Therefore, there is no difference between the two. These processes help in protecting the sensitive information in the production database so that the information can be easily provided to entities like test team.

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Data Masking or data obfuscation refers to the process that helps in concealing private data. It is also referred to as Data anonymization. Therefore, there is no difference between the two. These processes help in protecting the sensitive information in the production database so that the information can be easily provided to entities like test team.

Hiding of sensitive data is an important issue. Therefore various methods are applied to hide this information. Many approaches are used to hide information. For example – new data generation can be done or data encryption. Shuffling is another method where data can be shuffled in one column.

The data is masked in a manner that it looks real and also appears consistent. Data masking helps in the protection of sensitive and personal data, and thus reduces the risk of exposure. It is important to mention that in this process, the format of data remains the same. However, changes are made on the values. The data is altered by using any of the various methods. The values are changed in a way that it is possible to make out the changes or reverse engineering later. Numerous data masking products are available in the market by vendors like IBM, Informatica, Oracle, etc.

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In a real scenario, a combination of various approaches for data masking is also applied for different data fields. Data masking also reduces the risk of potential test data breaches. It generally follows the steps of sensitive data identification, monitoring, masking the data and auditing. The policy of data masking must cover all the areas where data is being shared or there is a possibility of it to be shared. Data should be masked to reduce both external and internal risks. A proper tool must be selected for data masking or obfuscation, according to the requirement.

Comparison between Data Masking and Obfuscation:

 

Data Masking

Data Obfuscation

Meaning

Data Masking refers to the process that helps in concealing private data. It is also referred to as Data anonymization. These processes help in protecting the sensitive information in the production database so that the information can be easily provided to entities like test team.

It is the same as data masking. Therefore, there is no difference between the two.

Techniques

  • Random substitution – the value to be masked is replaced by a random value.
  • Algorithmic substitution – Certain fields use certain algorithms for making.
  • Sequence – it generates a sequence of data
  • Selective Mask – Only a particular portion is masked.
  • Blurring – A random variance is added  to the existing values
  • Expressions – Custom rules or expressions are used to mask complicated fields.

Same as data masking

Vendors of tools

IBM, Informatica, Oracle, etc.

 

IBM, Informatica, Oracle, etc.

Image Courtesy: securosis.com

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