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Data Anonymization: Everything You Need to Know

Are you worried about a potential breach of your data? We now spend so much of our time sharing our data online. At times, this is with our consent, and other times our data is shared unwillingly.

Regardless, you want to find a way to protect your personal data. In the wrong hands, someone can compromise your privacy and security when they access your data.

You should consider protecting your personal data through the Data Anonymization. This is a process to conceal your data once it’s collected.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Choose Your Services Wisely

The first step is to actually think about what services you use online. In other words, the best protection is prevention.

For example, you can consider a service such as Decibel. This allows businesses to enhance their digital experience.

You can also choose encrypted email services for communication. You can find alternatives to Google and Bing as your preferred search engine. It’s also ideal to avoid social media to protect your data.

As more service providers collect our data, it’s wise to learn about how you can protect your data from them.

Ask them how they collect your data and how you can delete your data from their services. Ask how you can opt-out from a service provider before you can opt-in. You want to ask for how long they keep data and if they ever delete it.

It’s always best to choose a service that deletes your data after you opt-out of a service.

Some companies might be obliged to keep some data for legal purposes. But otherwise, no ethical company will keep your data long after you’ve left their service. You might need to look for alternatives to the most popular services to find ones that value privacy.

Now let’s look at different techniques for the Data Anonymization.

2. Directory Replacement

This technique involves changing the name of someone associated with the data.

For example, if you want to log in, you can provide a passcode rather than your personal information. Your personal information is stored separately on a secure server.

At any moment, you can also delete the personal information associated with the data from the server. Ask your service provider if they use the directory replacement method to protect your personal data.

3. Masking Personal Data

This is one of the most common ways to protect your personal data. When you pay with your credit card online, you might notice that the first 12 digits get censored.

So you’ll see XXXX XXXX XXXX and then the last four digits of the card number. This is often used for Social Security Numbers and many other similar numbers.

If you run a business that collects such personal data, you want to consider offering masking services. You also want to opt for services that allow you to mask such data.

4. Shuffling

The shuffling process involves moving around words or numbers to hide the actual data.

For example, if your PIN code is 123456 you can shuffle it to 456312. This protects someone from having their PIN code stolen.

Sometimes text can be jumbled up for security reasons. For example, Pieter Levels uploaded his book MAKE on the internet. But he wanted to make sure that no one could read the book unless they paid for it.

If you pay for the book, you’ll be able to read it online. If you don’t, the text will be jumbled up. This is another way to protect your personal data and often stumps many hackers.

5. Blurring

The next technique is to blur the data from users. For example, someone might need to enter a password to read the data. Otherwise, it’ll be blurred for the general viewer.

You can use blurring when you only want to show data for temporary reasons. For example, if a user forgets their password, they can temporarily remove the blur.

Within a few seconds, the blur will reappear, so the user cannot easily copy and paste the password. Or, it also prevents someone else from looking at the screen to see the password.

6. Substitution

This technique will substitute a list of data with pre-made “fake” data. The people in charge of managing the data will know with whom the “fake” data corresponds.

For example, if Jean-Pierre’s birthplace is Paris, the “fake” data will list “Europa” as the birthplace. A data manager will see “Europa” and know that the actual birthplace is “Paris” and that Jean-Pierre is the person associated with the data.

As such, if the data gets stolen, the hacker doesn’t see the actual personal data. They will see fake data without knowing that it’s fake data. This is one of the best methods to protect your personal data.

7. Privacy Options

This returns back to our first point on choosing your services wisely. For example, are you allowed to make your profile private?

You shouldn’t use any services that require you to make your profile public at all times. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram would be less popular if they didn’t enjoy private profile options.

You also want to see if you can download your data and delete it from servers. You want to have the option to forgo sharing your data.

In other words, you should be informed if your data is to get collected. You should be able to avoid sharing data with any third party.

While we often ignore Terms and Conditions, it’s best to read them to see how your data gets collected. Make sure you also read the Privacy Policy of any service that you use.

8. Give Importance to the Data Anonymization

Now that you know how the Data Anonymization works, you can find ways to protect your personal data.

If you run a business, you can use these techniques to protect your customer’s data.

It’s also important that we develop a culture of protecting our data. This will incentivize companies to protect our data and not compromise it without our consent.

You can find more great content on tech and the internet on our website!

Check out: The Inside Out of a Consent Verification System

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