In-Use Encryption, Tokenization & Masking

Dynamic Data Masking vs. Static Data Masking

Choosing the Right Approach for Your Data Security Needs

rectangle Written by: Anne Gotay rectangle 2 5 min read

Data Masking Demystified

Data masking has become a crucial tool in the data security arsenal, as organizations must protect sensitive information from unauthorized access while still allowing their teams to work effectively. There are two primary methods for data masking: dynamic data masking and static data masking. Both techniques have their benefits and drawbacks, and the appropriate choice depends on the specific use case and compliance requirements.

In this blog post, we will explore the differences between dynamic and static data masking, discuss when to use each type, and delve into some use cases to provide a better understanding of their applications. We will also highlight relevant compliance requirements where masking plays a critical role.


Dynamic Data Masking Defined

Dynamic data masking (DDM) is a real-time, on-the-fly technique that obfuscates sensitive data as it is queried. DDM intercepts the query and modifies the result set to mask the sensitive data, returning the masked information to the user. This approach ensures that unauthorized users never see the actual data while still providing them with the necessary information to perform their tasks. Dynamic data masking is best suited for scenarios where there is a need for real-time data access and masking, such as:

Customer support: Support teams often require access to customer data to resolve issues. DDM can mask sensitive data like credit card numbers and personal identification information while allowing support teams to view the necessary details.

Data analytics: Data scientists and analysts need access to large data sets for analysis, but they don’t always require the actual sensitive information. DDM ensures they can perform their tasks without exposing sensitive data.


Static Data Masking Defined

Static data masking (SDM), on the other hand, involves masking the data at rest before it is accessed or queried. This means creating a separate copy of the data where sensitive information has been replaced with realistic but fictional values. This approach is best suited for situations where there is no need for real-time access to sensitive data, such as:

Development and testing environments: Developers and testers often require access to realistic data sets to build and test applications. SDM provides these teams with de-identified data that closely resembles the production data, allowing them to work effectively without risking exposure of sensitive information.

Data migration and sharing: When transferring data between systems or sharing it with third parties, organizations must ensure that sensitive data remains protected. SDM allows for secure data transfers without the risk of unauthorized access.


Compliance Requirements and Data Masking

Compliance regulations like GDPR, HIPAA, and CCPA have strict requirements for protecting sensitive data, and data masking plays a critical role in achieving compliance. Depending on the specific regulation, organizations may need to implement one or both types of data masking to ensure they are compliant.

For example, GDPR requires that data subjects’ personal data be protected through pseudonymization, which can be achieved using either dynamic or static data masking. HIPAA, on the other hand, specifically requires the use of de-identified data when sharing protected health information (PHI), making static data masking the preferred choice in this case.


Finding a Data Security Platform That Offers All Flavors of Data Protection

Choosing between dynamic and static data masking depends on the specific use case and compliance requirements. Dynamic data masking is best suited for situations requiring real-time data access and masking, while static data masking is ideal for use cases where sensitive data can be replaced with fictional values before being accessed or queried.

Organizations must consider their unique needs and requirements when selecting the appropriate data masking solution, ensuring they are not only compliant with relevant regulations but also providing their teams with the necessary tools to work effectively and securely. In addition to offering in-use data protection where data does not have to be decrypted for real-time access, as well as tokenization, Sotero also offers dynamic and static data masking capabilities. To learn more about these offerings and the best fit for your organization, contact Sotero.


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