TCS To Develop Data Masking Tool

by Julia Fernandes    Jul 07, 2005

Tata Research Development and Design Centre (TRDDC), a division of Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., is working on a data-masking tool that will enable transmission of masked data while retaining the original characteristics.

Enumerating to CXOtoday the factors that motivated TRDDC to develop such a solution, Dr. Sachin Lodha, said, “Clients often find it difficult to send data for testing a new software application, especially so if the data contains sensitive information. This is commonly encountered in the finance and health sectors.”

“Many countries in the West have privacy laws that make it mandatory for a corporation to guarantee confidentiality and privacy to their customers. Therefore, whenever any of these corporations has an application under development by TCS, they provide synthetic test data. Such data is often not sufficient to test the application adequately,” added Lodha.

Speaking further he continued, “Meaningful validation and testing cannot be done unless real data or something real-like data is provided. This essentially motivated us to develop a data-masking tool, which addresses the privacy concerns of our clients and the data utility concerns of TCS development teams.”

Lodha who is leading the 10-member team working on the project informed that the solution is being built on Java, JDBC, Java swing.

Exploring the security aspect Lodha said, “Our data-masking tool will include different data masking techniques that will allow the user to pick and choose a method that is most appropriate for particular data. All these methods accept a security parameter from the user and do the masking accordingly. They are based on solid mathematical foundations, therefore, their security is mathematically guaranteed.”

However, which specific verticals is the solution targeted at?

Said Lodha, “We are targeting mainly finance and health sectors, although this tool could be useful to anyone. We have been working on this problem for almost a year. The technology is being tried out in pilot projects - finance - in TCS. We will have the first release in mid-October.

According to him, the tool will be tested and validated by a trusted third party. “We are sure it will be very useful for off-site testing projects and for many other applications involving corporate or personal data privacy,” signed off Lodha.

TRDDC is today one of India’s premier R&D centres in software engineering and process engineering.