Data Masking: What Is it and How To Do it in 2023

Data Masking: What Is it and How To Do it in 2023

Are you interested in the world of data security? Have you ever heard of data masking? If not, don’t worry, because in this blog post, we’re going to dive deep into the topic of data masking and explore what it is and why it’s important.

In today’s world, data is king. From personal information to financial records, data plays a crucial role in our daily lives. However, with the rise of cybercrime, protecting sensitive data has become more important than ever before. That’s where data masking comes in.

Data masking is a technique used to protect sensitive data by replacing it with a fictional version.

This fictional data retains the format and structure of the original data, but is altered in a way that makes it unusable to anyone who may have unauthorized access to it.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the different types of data masking techniques, their applications in various industries, and how they help keep our personal information and sensitive data safe from prying eyes. So, let’s get started!

What Is Data Masking?

As I indicated before, data masking is a strong approach that helps protect sensitive information by disguising it with fake data. But how exactly does it function, and what are the many kinds of data masking techniques that are available today?

The term “randomization” refers to one sort of data masking that is quite widespread.

This entails replacing sensitive data with random values that have a structure and format that is comparable to the data that was originally stored.

For instance, a credit card number could be changed to a completely different sequence of numbers, but this new set of numbers would still have the same number of digits and would still follow the same pattern as a real credit card number.

The term “substitution” refers to yet another method of concealing sensitive data.

With this technique, sensitive data is replaced with similar but fictional data that doesn’t reveal the original information. For example, a person’s name might be replaced with a random name, or a phone number might be replaced with a fictional number that has the same area code and prefix.

A third type of data masking is called “shuffling.” This method includes rearranging the values of a dataset in such a way that sensitive information is severed from its connection to the record from which it was originally taken.

You could, for instance, shuffle the data so that each customer’s credit card number is associated with a different customer if you have a list of customers and their credit card numbers. In this scenario, you would have access to both sets of information.

Let’s move on to discussing the significance of data masking now that we’ve gone over some of the fundamentals of the practise. Data breaches and cyber attacks are becoming increasingly commonplace in today’s world.

Hackers and other online criminals are always on the lookout for valuable data that they can use to their own financial advantage or for other nefarious purposes.

The process of data masking is an essential tool for safeguarding sensitive information and avoiding situations in which it could end up in the wrong hands. Data masking helps ensure that even in the event that there is a data breach, the stolen data will be useless to anyone who does not have the key to unlock it. This is accomplished by disguising sensitive information with data that is made up.

Data masking is utilised in a range of areas, from healthcare to banking to retail. For example, in the healthcare industry, data masking is used to protect patient information and comply with HIPAA regulations.

Data masking is a tool that is utilised in the banking and finance sector to assist in the protection of sensitive financial information such as credit card numbers and account balances. In addition, data masking is utilised in the retail sector to safeguard sensitive customer information such as addresses and phone numbers.

In conclusion, data masking is an important technique for protecting sensitive data in today’s world.

Because there is so much information that could be useful, it is imperative that we make use of all the resources that are available to us in order to protect the data. Data masking is a technique that helps ensure sensitive data remains secure in spite of the presence of cyber threats. It accomplishes this by employing methods such as randomization, substitution, and shuffling.

Advantages Of Data Masking

Advantages Of Data Masking | MediaOne Marketing Singapore

Data masking is a technique used to protect sensitive information by disguising it with fictional data. It is an effective instrument that provides a variety of benefits to companies of varying sizes and scopes.

In this section, we will discuss some of the most important advantages of using data masking.

Enhanced Security

The most obvious advantage of data masking is the increased level of data protection that it provides. Because there is so much valuable data at risk, it is imperative that we make use of all the tools at our disposal in order to protect that data.

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By disguising sensitive information with fictional data, data masking helps prevent data breaches and cyber attacks.

Even if a hacker manages to get into a database and discovers sensitive information there, they won’t be able to make use of it and it won’t be of any value to them because they won’t have the key to unlock the data that has been disguised.

Compliance with Regulations

Several sectors are subject to regulations that demand the safeguarding of sensitive data.

For example, the healthcare industry is subject to HIPAA regulations, while the financial industry is subject to PCI DSS regulations.

Data masking is a powerful tool for complying with these regulations, as it helps ensure that sensitive information remains protected.

Businesses have the ability to avoid costly fines and other penalties for non-compliance with regulations if they use data masking.


The protection of sensitive information through the use of data masking is an efficient and cost-effective method.

Data masking, on the other hand, can be done relatively easily and at a low cost, in contrast to other security measures, the implementation of which can be costly.

This is of utmost significance for small and medium-sized businesses, as they may lack the financial resources necessary to implement more expensive security measures.

Data masking allows companies to protect their confidential information without having to spend an excessive amount of money.

Maintains Data Integrity

The integrity of the data is preserved, which is one of the most important advantages of data masking.

As a result of the fact that the fictitious data that is used to mask sensitive information is structured and formatted in the same manner as the original data, the overall structure of the dataset is preserved.

This is critical for organisations that rely on accurate data to make informed decisions.

Businesses are able to protect the confidentiality of their sensitive data by utilising data masking, which also guarantees that the overall structure of the dataset will be preserved.

Improved Collaboration

Data masking can also improve collaboration between different teams or departments.

In some cases, sensitive data needs to be shared between teams or departments for a specific project or initiative.

Companies are able to maintain the confidentiality of sensitive information while yet facilitating collaboration by employing a technique known as data masking.

This can help improve productivity and make it easier for teams to work together on important projects.

Avoids Embarrassment

In conclusion, the process of data masking can assist companies in avoiding embarrassing situations. If confidential information were to become public, it might cause embarrassment or financial harm in certain circumstances.

The use of data masking helps to ensure that this information continues to be secured, hence lowering the likelihood that an organization’s reputation would be harmed or embarrassed.

By adopting data masking, businesses may protect their sensitive data and keep the trust of their consumers and partners.

The benefits of data masking include greater security, compliance with rules, cost-effectiveness, data integrity, improved collaboration, and avoidance of shame.

By adopting data masking, businesses may protect their sensitive data and keep the trust of their consumers and partners.

Allows for Testing as Well as Development

The ability of data masking to facilitate testing and development is yet another significant advantage of using this technique. In many circumstances, developers require access to sensitive data in order to test new apps or software.

However, giving them access to actual sensitive data can be risky.

Businesses have the ability to supply software developers with a cleansed version of the data, which still enables the developers to test and develop new applications, when they make use of data masking.

This ensures that sensitive information remains protected while still allowing for the development of new technology.

Helps Make Outsourcing Possible

Masking data can also make it easier to outsource work.

Several companies now contract out certain tasks like cussomer service and information technology support. However, outsourcing can be risky if sensitive data is involved.

By adopting data masking, firms can give outsourced personnel with a sanitised version of the data that still allows them to execute their jobs.

This allows for the outsourcing of work without compromising the confidentiality of any sensitive information that may be involved.

Helps Bring Down the Costs of Data Management

Finally, data masking can assist firms decrease data management expenditures. The handling and storage of sensitive data must be done in a specific way, which can be expensive.

Businesses are able to reduce the expenses involved with managing and safeguarding sensitive data by employing a technique known as data masking to protect sensitive data.

This may result in resources becoming available for use in other areas of the company.

In general, there are a great number of significant benefits that come with data masking.

Whether you run a small company or a large enterprise, using data masking can assist you in safeguarding sensitive information, adhering to rules, cutting expenses, preserving data integrity, and performing a number of other important tasks.

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Businesses are able to guarantee the safety of their sensitive data by making use of data masking, which also enables the firms to continue vital operations such as cooperation, development, and outsourcing without restricting access to their data.

Types Of Data Masking

Types Of Data Masking | MediaOne Marketing Singapore

The process of data masking is an effective method for guarding against unauthorised access to sensitive information; however, not all data masking strategies are made equal.

There are numerous distinct varieties of data masking, each of which has a unique set of advantages and disadvantages.

In today’s post here on the blog, we’re going to discuss some of the most common varieties of data masking.

Static Data Masking

The most fundamental type of data masking is known as static data masking.

In this method, sensitive data is substituted with a fixed value, such as an asterisk (*), before being transmitted. For example, a social security number might be replaced with *********.

This method does not require the data being protected to be analysed or otherwise manipulated before it can be applied, and it is also simple to put into practise.

However, there are several restrictions associated with the use of static data masking. It is possible to easily reverse-engineer the original data if the masked value is compared with the information contained in the dataset.

This is due to the fact that the same value is used to replace all instances of sensitive data.

Dynamic Data Masking

Dynamic Data Masking | MediaOne Marketing Singapore

Dynamic data masking is a more advanced technique that allows sensitive data to be masked in real-time when it is accessed by users or programmes. This type of masking can only be achieved through the usage of dynamic data masking.

This method is frequently utilised in circumstances in which individuals want access to sensitive data in order to complete specific tasks, but in which the entire data collection ought not to be viewable.

For instance, a representative working in customer service might require access to a customer’s phone number but not their credit card information in order to do their job properly.

At the application level, dynamic data masking can be done, which means that only authorised users will be able to view the entire data set. This keeps sensitive information secure.


The process of replacing sensitive data with a singular identifier, known as a token, is what is referred to as the data masking technique of tokenization. The original data is then stored in a separate location, where it can only be accessed by authorised individuals.

Tokenization is a technique that is frequently utilised in circumstances in which sensitive data must be held for extended periods of time, but in which the data does not need to be accessed on a routine basis.

For instance, a credit card number could be replaced with a token, which could then be used to process payments without revealing the actual credit card number. This would keep the actual credit card number private.

Cryptography That Maintains Its Format

Format-preserving encryption is a data masking technique that allows sensitive data to be encrypted while preserving its original format.

This technique is often used in situations where the format of the data is important, such as in databases or other structured data sets.

Protecting sensitive data with encryption that maintains its original format offers the benefit of not requiring any adjustments to be made to the storing or processing of the data.

On the other hand, in comparison to other methods of data masking, this method is more complicated and may be more challenging to put into practise.

Data Subsetting

The process of producing a subset of the original data set that only contains non-sensitive data is known as data subsetting. This is a type of data masking technique.

This subset can then be put to use for purposes such as testing, development, or anything else that does not require access to sensitive data.

Data subsetting is a strategy that can be utilised to cut down on the volume of sensitive information that must be safeguarded, while still enabling the creation of new software applications and conducting quality assurance testing on those applications.

In general, there are a wide variety of different kinds of data masking techniques, each of which has its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

For the purpose of securing the sensitive information you have, one or more of these strategies might be appropriate, depending on the particular requirements and conditions of your situation.

If you are familiar with the various forms of data masking, you will be able to select the method that will serve both your company and its data in the most effective manner.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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