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ISO/IEC 27001:2022: Embracing Data Masking as a Key Security Measure

OCT, 2023

by Andrew Walker.

 

Author Andrew Walker

Andrew Walker is a software architect with 10+ years of experience. Andrew is passionate about his craft, and he loves using his skills to design enterprise solutions for Enov8, in the areas of IT Environments, Release & Data Management. 

ISO/IEC 27001:2022, the most recent version of the international standard for information security management systems (ISMS), has seen significant updates aligning with the dynamic landscape of information security. In this article, we explore the changes introduced in ISO/IEC 27001:2022, with special attention on a pivotal amendment – the incorporation of data masking.

 

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What is ISO 27001?

ISO 27001 is a globally recognized standard aimed at enhancing information security management systems. This standard provides organizations with a systematic approach to manage and protect sensitive information through effective risk management processes. Suitable for organizations of all sizes and industry sectors, ISO 27001 not only ensures the safeguarding of an organization’s information assets but also instills trust among its customers.

Notable Changes in ISO/IEC 27001:2022

The recent ISO/IEC 27001:2022 encompasses several important changes in line with the dynamic information security environment:

1. Greater Emphasis on Risk Management

The 2022 version prioritizes risk management, highlighting the identification, assessment, and treatment of information security risks, essential for the protection of sensitive data.

2. Alignment with Other ISO Standards

To achieve harmonization, ISO 27001:2022 aligns more closely with other ISO standards, like ISO 31000 for risk management and ISO 22301 for business continuity management, ensuring streamlined processes and enhanced security management.

3. Flexible Documentation Approach

This version introduces more flexibility in documentation requirements, making the implementation and upkeep of ISMS more straightforward for organizations.

4. Enhanced Emphasis on Leadership

ISO/IEC 27001:2022 underscores the critical role of leadership in establishing and maintaining ISMS, ensuring that the leadership actively champions information security initiatives.

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Introduction of Data Masking

One of the significant changes in ISO 27001:2022 is the new stipulation for data masking. Data masking is a method of protecting sensitive data by replacing it with realistic but fabricated data. It’s designed to prevent unauthorized access, ensuring only authorized personnel can access the genuine data.

The introduction of this requirement within ISO 27001 aims to bolster protection, especially for personal data like identification details, health records, and financial data. Based on a thorough risk assessment, organizations are mandated to employ data masking techniques on all pertinent data. In essence, the masking level should reflect the data’s associated risk.

For effective compliance, organizations should:

1. Identify Sensitive Data

Employ Data Profiling to discover sensitive data, including personal and financial details, within the organization. The definition of “sensitive” might vary based on various factors like industry and clientele.

2. Assess Risks

Evaluate risks related to sensitive data, considering potential implications of breaches or unauthorized access.

3. Determine Data Masking Techniques

Depending on the risk assessment, select suitable data masking methods, which might include encryption, tokenization, or anonymization.

4. Implement Data Masking

Once appropriate techniques are determined, employ them to safeguard sensitive data. This might involve partnering with third-party vendors, like Enov8, for data masking solutions or creating customized in-house solutions.

5. Monitor and Review

Continuously monitor and evaluate data masking solutions to ensure their persistent efficacy in protecting sensitive information.

Who Should Consider ISO 27001 Compliance?

ISO/IEC 27001:2022 is a globally recognized standard, appropriate for entities of all sizes, across various sectors, and irrespective of their geographical presence. Although its adoption is not mandatory, there may be instances where legal, regulatory, or contractual conditions could require adherence to its guidelines. Many leading organizations across different industries have achieved ISO 27001 certification.

Data Masking Applications

Data masking can be applied in various environments:

1. Production Databases

Protect sensitive data in production databases by masking or hiding data, like redacting customer credit card details in user interfaces.

2. Test and Development Environments 

Shield sensitive data during the software development process, ensuring realistic data is used without exposing sensitive information.

3. Cloud Services

In cloud settings, & cloud landing zones, employ data masking to protect data stored, especially when dealing with data residency requirements.

4. Analytics and Business Intelligence

Apply data masking to data utilized for analytics and business intelligence, addressing challenges of unauthorized access to sensitive fields.

5. AI/ML Algorithms

For AI/ML adoption, data masking can provide engineers with safeguarded yet realistic data versions for training and testing purposes.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the integration of data masking in ISO/IEC 27001:2022 is not merely a reactive step to counter growing digital threats, but a proactive stride towards the future of holistic information security. As the digital frontier expands, so do the vulnerabilities, making the protection of sensitive data not just an operational necessity but a fundamental business responsibility. Herein lies the importance of advanced tools like the Enov8 Test Data Manager. This platform offers essential capabilities such as Data Profiling for sensitive data discovery, robust Data Masking techniques, and Data Validation to ensure compliance. Organizations must understand that in today’s age, data is both an asset and a potential liability. By integrating standards like ISO 27001:2022 with the capabilities of platforms like Enov8, companies not only safeguard their data but also secure trust, ensuring brand integrity, and paving the way for sustainable growth in an increasingly uncertain digital ecosystem. This approach goes beyond mere compliance—it’s about fostering preparedness, resilience, and excellence in a data-driven future.

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