As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to protect your business’s sensitive data from unauthorized access. Statistics show that the average data breach costs U.S. businesses approximately $8.6 million. Some businesses, of course, spend even more money to recover from data breaches. Fortunately, you don’t have to delete your business’s data; data masking offers an alternative solution to protect against data breaches.

What Is Data Masking?

Also known as data obfuscation, data masking is the process of hiding sensitive data. It typically involves the creation of an alternative data set that can’t be deciphered by unauthorized users. Authorized users, of course, will still be able to access and decipher the sensitive data. Masking simply conceals sensitive data so that hackers and other unauthorized users can’t decipher it.

Many medical providers use data masking. In the healthcare industry, medical providers must take precautions to protect against data breaches. Data masking, of course, is effective at preventing data breaches. Even if you work in a different industry, though, you may want to use data masking. All businesses that collect and store sensitive data can benefit from data masking.

Data Masking Techniques

There are several different data masking techniques. One of the most common data masking techniques is tokenization. Tokenization revolves around the use of tokens. Sensitive data is replaced with characters or strings of characters known as tokens. Even if an unauthorized user is able to view a given record, he or she will see tokens in place of the sensitive data.

Sensitive data can be deleted, instead. If a record only has a few pieces of sensitive data, you may want to delete it. Deleting sensitive data is considered a data masking technique. The sensitive data is removed so that unauthorized users are unable to access it.

Encryption is another data masking technique. Encryption doesn’t actually delete data. Like tokenization, it conceals sensitive data. Encryption requires the use of an algorithm. The algorithm will scramble the data with which it’s used. To read the data, you’ll need to decrypt it. Therefore, unauthorized users won’t be able to decipher it. Encrypted data is protected from breaches. Unless a user can decrypt, he or she won’t be able to access and use the data.

In Conclusion

Data masking is an effective way to protect against data breaches. It doesn’t necessarily prevent unauthorized users from accessing a network, server or database. Rather, it prevents them from deciphering and using sensitive data for nefarious purposes. Some of the most common data masking techniques include tokenization, deletion and encryption.