Data Masker vNext: Have your say on the future of data masking

Back in 2017 Redgate acquired Net2000, a leading provider of data masking solutions for SQL Server databases. Since then, we’ve invested heavily in the data masking tools to ensure our customers can balance the need to deliver software faster with the requirement to remain compliant with legislation like the GDPR.

Our efforts didn’t stop with the tools, however, because we have a vision to provide a solution that solves the real problems our customers face. The teams at Redgate have been working hard behind the scenes to shape and improve the future of data masking, and our customers are playing a huge part in this story.

Why work on data masking?

Right from the start, we were convinced there were unresolved problems and unmet needs around data masking. Over the months, our research with a variety of organizations showed some common patterns.

  1. Setting up masks either through a custom script or data masking tool can be tedious. It’s time consuming to write a script that achieves as close a level of realism as production, and scripts are hard to change to suit the demands of the business.
  2. Users are unsure about what or how to mask data. They know how the masked data should look and behave, but not the best way to achieve it.
  3. Users worry that even with masking, personally identifiable data may be exposed. Finding out where the personally identifiable data is across organizations is a tedious, manual audit activity, and there’s a worry that columns could be missed due to oversight.
  4. Masking is part of a wider process across organizations. Whenever the database state changes, masking must be considered. For example, a new database may require masking to be set up. This can be made easier by knowing which data is sensitive. Furthermore, schema changes require masking plans to be reviewed and updated to keep up with the changes.

These areas have been driving us to build a new masking solution that is:

  • Easy to get started and efficient to use
  • Helps you discover sensitive data and mask it sufficiently
  • Mindful and reactive to changes to your data over time

What we’ve done so far

With our prototype, V-Next, we focused on the first area – a solution that is easy and efficient to use. We wanted to make it simple for anyone to get started with setting up masks for their databases. Our target was that you should be able to set up masking for your database in under five minutes.

We want to do the hard work for you. Consider this scenario: you have two first name columns in two tables, and they have a PK-FK relationship via an ID column. You want to mask both columns in such a way that the relationship stays intact. With V-Next, you can simply check a box and the software will then figure out how to do the rest.

We wanted to help you be confident about the masking setup. As you choose how the mask will work, you’ll see how the data will change via a “before and after” view. Making the right choices upfront in such a way reduces the time wasted fixing mistakes.

These are some of the ways we’re making it easy to set up masks, and all this was only possible through feedback. By regularly researching with users, we were able to better understand their problems and make sure our solutions solved them.

Where are we heading?

Some of the areas that are coming up next in the development of V-Next include:

  • Using your classification as a starting point
  • Suggesting how to mask columns
  • Keeping up with schema changes
  • Automation and integrating with your existing process
  • Managing all your masking plans
  • Templates to get you started
  • Working within database constraints
  • Maintaining masked values across databases
  • Maintaining data distribution

Help us make it useful for you

We want to continue working with users to make a world class masking solution that works for you and your organization, and makes this part of your working life easier.

If you or anyone you know fits that description, please sign up to our early access program to download the VNext for free.

In doing so, you’ll help us gain a deep understanding of your organization’s requirements for compliance and SQL Server data masking. We would like to regularly talk to you about your experience, your plans and your concerns about putting this into place.

In return you’ll have early access to new releases and insights into new features, along with our close support to get up and running.

For more information about the program, visit us online.