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What is Oracle Data Masking?

Oracle Data Masking is an Option offered for use with Oracle’s databases. Data masking provides a way to de-identify data. When might a company need to de-identify its data? Well, companies service their customers through data stored in their production databases. However, the production database isn’t the only place that sensitive data is stored. Almost every company supports its production databases with various data stores called testing, development or staging databases.

Privacy and regulatory mandates call for securing and protecting personal and sensitive customer data, no matter where it’s stored. Now if a company outsources its development efforts, for example, it needs to make its development databases available to its outsourcing agency’s personnel. But these development databases, as well as the databases the company uses for testing its applications before deploying them in production, contain the same sensitive data as the production databases!

According to studies, fully half of the companies don’t know exactly where all their sensitive data is stored and about a quarter of the companies have revealed that they suspect that some of the data in those “secondary” databases might have been lost or stolen. Oracle Data Masking literally masks the sensitive data, by replacing actual names, addresses and social security numbers, for example, with made up counterparts. The idea is that the functionality of the applications will remain the same, because all the interrelationships in the database are preserved – the key idea here is that sensitive data is, in effect, removed from non-production databases. Note that this is different from data encryption, where data is secured by encrypting it with special key, which then has to be decrypted with another set of keys. Data masking helps you comply with a host of data privacy and security mandates and allows you to share your production data safely for development, testing and for offshore outsourcing without any concerns about jeopardizing the security and privacy of your customers.

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