Chief Commerical Officer, Northdoor
12 November 2018
In this blog, AJ Thompson explains how traditional approaches to data masking are difficult to scale up in support of the development and testing of new applications. With solutions for automating the creation of consistent, reliable, right-sized fictitious data sets, Northdoor can simplify and de-risk data masking, enabling fast development and GDPR compliance to go hand in hand.
In light of the GDPR, many companies have ramped up their efforts around the masking of data – that is, the removal identifying characteristics like real names without changing the structure or format. This is particularly important in the development and testing of new applications, where realistic sets of data are required to ensure that the software will work as expected in the real world. Particularly where development is handled by third-party organisations, companies need to be exceptionally careful that personal identifiers are correctly and reliably masked.
Creating fictitious or masked data can be a major drain on time and resources, particularly where multiple sources of data are involved. Existing manual processes may struggle to scale up to growing needs, particularly as time-to-market pressures increase – which will raise the risk of non-compliance through human error.
Modern agile development practices are characterised by multiple, frequent updates to code, each of which requires testing. If developers need to spend time preparing masked data for each test cycle, delays and costs will rise very rapidly, and delivery deadlines are likely to be missed.
Data masking is simple enough in principle, but with multiple data sources to manage, scaling up the practice to meet the needs of software development and testing teams is proving difficult, time-consuming, costly and inconsistent for many companies today.
So how can companies support digital transformation by ensuring that data masking is rapid, reliable, inexpensive and scalable?
Northdoor has extensive experience in industrialising the discovery, categorisation, and reliable masking of data. Using tried-and-trusted technologies from leading global vendors, Northdoor provides a comprehensive range of solutions that make it easy to mask sensitive data and metadata, automatically creating new and unique reference codes for each masking run.
In-built custom routines empower organisations to mask, blank, anonymise or pseudonymise personal data as required. The solutions also enable the easy generation of valid sample data for use in software development and testing, significantly reducing both the cost and the potential for human error. The inclusion of pre-built metadata for packaged applications enables almost plug-and-play deployment, cutting costs and reducing the level of internal expertise required. Compliance effort is also reduced: masked reference codes remain linked to the source data, enabling authorised personnel to trace masked data back to the original records as required.
Northdoor solutions empower companies to mask data accurately and in a context-sensitive manner. This ensures that integrity is preserved, with masked elements propagated consistently across applications to generate valid results.
For organisations that are struggling to manage the volume of requests to mask personal data from software development and testing teams, Northdoor’s automated approach promises to save significant time and effort for technical specialists. Freed from manual data masking responsibilities, these specialists can focus on their core activities while the organisation benefits from greater control over, and visibility into, data masking.
Northdoor can help you accelerate the delivery of masked data for any use, while reducing effort through automation and diminishing the potential for human error. For software development and testing, Northdoor data masking solutions provide the required speed and consistency to meet the needs of agile practices, helping you maintain short time-to-market. As new data sources emerge, automated discovery and classification help ensure that your data masking capabilities remain viable.
As an approved supplier on the UK government’s G-Cloud 9 (G9) supplier list for Data Pseudonymisation, Northdoor is able to offer compliance solutions to public sector organisations seeking to automatically protect, anonymise and safeguard personal and sensitive information.
Northdoor helps companies transform data masking from an uncontrolled manual process into an industrialised and highly automated production line. Our solutions – built on software from leading global vendors – help organisations scale up to meet the challenges of masking data reliably and cost-effectively.
For more information on how industrialised data masking solutions from Northdoor can reduce the cost and effort of compliance, while accelerating application development, please do get in touch with me.