This post is about data masking tools. More specifically, it’s about which data masking tools are worth checking out.
Why is this important, and how does it relate to software testing? Well, protecting customer data has never been so important. This is not only because it’s the right, moral thing to do, but also because failing to do so can bring about dire financial and legal consequences for your organization. After all, GDPR and similar regulations are here to stay.
Compliance plays an important role in testing as well. In a world where testing in production is more common, it’s important to leverage data masking/data redacting tools to ensure sensitive data doesn’t leak during testing activities.
This post will help you navigate the landscape of existing data masking tools. We’ll open the post by exploring some of the challenges an engineer might face when choosing a data masking tool. Then, we’ll walk you through five of the main tools at your disposal. Let’s begin.
Data Masking Tools: What Every Engineer Should Know Before Going Shopping
From a developer’s point of view, what factors should you consider when evaluating data masking tools?
The first point to evaluate is whether the tool supports the database you use. If your organization relies on, say, SQL Server, all tools that don’t support that RDBMS are automatically disqualified.
Even though the developer isn’t typically the person who signs the check, the cost is another crucial factor to analyze. Bear in mind that you shouldn’t measure cost only in dollars. The ease—or lack thereof—of the initial setup is something you must also consider when evaluating the overall ROI of a data masking tool, or any testing tool, for that matter.
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You might also want to take a look at how the company treats its userbase. Is the documentation comprehensive and easy to use? What about customer support? Does this look like a company you want to have a continuing relationship with?
The list above isn’t exhaustive, of course, but it’s a place to start.
The Data Masking Tools You Should Check Out
We’ve just talked about some of the main factors you should consider when looking for a data masking tool. Now let’s walk through our list of data masking tools, evaluating each tool according to the criteria we’ve just discussed.
The order of the tools doesn’t imply any ranking; they’re listed in alphabetical order.
Broadcom Test Data Manager
Broadcom Test Data Manager offers not only data masking capabilities but also more general test data management features. The tool can identify sensitive data that needs masking. It can also improve the quality of production data by detecting and filling gaps in the data. It’s also possible to reuse existing data and even create virtual copies of test data.
When it comes to compliance, Test Data Manager also helps by offering great synthetic data creation capabilities.
- Great synthetic data creation features
- Data subsetting capabilities allow users to extract only a slice of production data
- TDM Portal helps users manage test data in a friendly way
- Somewhat complex initial setup
- The UI could use some improvement
- Integrations with other tools could see improvement
- It only supports Windows machines
DATPROF comes with built-in data generators that can identify and mask sensitive data. Alternatively, it can generate synthetic data.
- Performs well over large datasets
- Offers free trials
- Easy to use
- Offers good customer support
- Supports a wide range of database providers, including Oracle, MS SQL Server, MySQL, and MariaDB
- It might require some tuning to achieve great performance
- It might take some work to apply the same masking tools repeatedly throughout the database
Delphix Data Masking
Delphix cherishes ease of use. It comes with pre-defined rules to make your test data comply with the major privacy regulations.
- Data can be masked according to either private standards or regulations such as GDPR, CCPA, and HIPAA
- Identifies and masks sensitive data automatically
- High cost and not many trial opportunities available
Rather than being a single product, Mentis is a suite of solutions. It’s a data governance platform that allows users to identify and protect sensitive enterprise data. It offers both dynamic and static data masking capabilities through its iMask and iScramble solutions, respectively.
- It comes out of the box with configurations that meet most enterprises’ needs, making getting started easier
- It offers an intuitive and easy to use UI
- It might take some tuning to achieve excellent performance
- The documentation could use some improvement
Not disclosed by the vendor. There’s no free version or free trial, but it’s possible to book a demo.
Solix Data Masking
Solix Data Masking is a solution for securing sensitive data in testing environments.
It comes with a set of predefined rules that helps you discover and mask sensitive data. If those rules aren’t enough, you can also create custom rules.
The rules preserve the consistency, format, and referential integrity of the data after masking. That way, data is still fit for testing purposes while being compliant.
- Strong customer service
- Predefined rules for masking sensitive data
- Support for all the major databases, including SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, MongoDB, and even flat files
- One-way obfuscation of real data
- Based on review websites, Solix doesn’t appear to have a large user base.
- Per the same source, Solix doesn’t have a lot of user recommendations.
Data Masking Tools: Are They the Only Alternative?
The fact that automated software testing is crucial, from small companies to enterprises, is something no one in their right mind would argue in 2021. It’s also indisputable that test data is critical. And by taking into account the necessity of ensuring customer data is kept private and protected—especially but not exclusively due to GDPR and similar regulations—it becomes evident that data masking is a crucial endeavor.
We’ve walked you through some of the main contenders in the data masking tools space in this post. For every tool, we’ve included a description of its most important features, a brief list of pros and cons, the website, and, when available, pricing information.
As you can see, it’s not typical for those vendors to offer free trials, which might make it unfeasible for many organizations to try such solutions due to the high investment required. Is a dedicated data masking tool the only solution, though? There must be some alternative. Luckily, there is.
Testim Automate is an AI-powered test automation solution that solves the biggest problems in test automation: It makes test authoring easy and generates robust test suites that don’t make an unnecessary burden out of test maintenance. Despite not offering data masking per se, Testim comes with data redacting capabilities, which can black out personal information during testing execution, preventing sensitive information from being captured.
We invite you to try Testim Automate today.
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