Data masking is a technique that is used to protect sensitive data. Sensitive data can include things like social security numbers, credit card numbers, and other personal information. Data masking is used to make sure that this information is not accessible to unauthorized individuals. Beyond this basic data masking meaning, though, you may wonder what is involved in the data masking process.

The data-masking process is a critical step in protecting sensitive information. This process involves obscuring data so that it cannot be used to identify individuals. There are many ways to mask data, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Some of the most common methods are encryption, hashing, substitution, steganography., and deletion.

Data Masking Through Encryption

Encryption is a process of transforming readable data into an unreadable format. In this method, confidential information is converted into an unreadable format. This can be done by using a mathematical algorithm to scramble the data. Only people who have the encryption key can decrypt the data and view it in its original form. This makes it a popular choice for protecting sensitive information. However, encryption can be difficult to use and can slow down the performance of applications.

Data Masking Through Hashing

The most common way is to use a hashing algorithm. Hashing is a process of transforming data into a fixed-length value. A hashing algorithm takes input data and creates a unique, fixed-length output. This output can be used to compare two pieces of data, to ensure that they are the same. A hashing algorithm can be used to create a "mask" for data. This mask will hide the original data, while still allowing it to be used for comparisons. The mask is created by hashing the original data and then truncating the output to a specific length. This length can be anything, but it is usually chosen to be shorter than the original hash. This makes it a popular choice for verifying the integrity of data. However, hashing is not a good choice for encrypting data, as it is easy to restore the original data if you have the hash value.

Data Masking Through Substitution

Another especially common method of data-masking is substitution. In this method, confidential information is replaced with a fictitious value. This value can be a random number or a code that is known only to the data-masking software and the person who is authorized to view the data. There are several benefits to using data substitution for data masking. First, it can help to ensure that the data is not compromised if the data is stolen or leaked. Second, it can help to protect the privacy of the data subjects. And third, it can help to reduce the risk of identity theft.

Data Masking Through Steganography

Data Masking
Data Masking

Steganography is the process of hiding data within other data. This can be done by adding the data to an image or audio file, or by using a special type of file format. Steganography is a popular choice for hiding sensitive information, as it is difficult to detect. However, it can be difficult to extract the hidden data if you do not know the format of the file. It is important to note that steganography can be detected if it is used excessively or if the alterations to the data are too obvious.

Data Masking Through Deletion

Deletion is another common method of data-masking. In this method, confidential information is permanently removed from the data set. This can be done by deleting the information outright or by replacing it with a fictitious value. Deleting data is a great way to protect sensitive information. When data is deleted, it is permanently removed from the database and is no longer accessible. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, for unauthorized individuals to access the information.

The data-masking process is designed to protect the privacy of individuals and to help ensure that the data is not accessed or used by unauthorized individuals. By using the proper safeguards, the data-masking process can help to protect the privacy of individuals and organizations.