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Data Anonymization: An Essential Tool for Personal Data Privacy

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

1. Overview

Post-Covid, hybrid working environment has become a global norm and data breaches have become all too common. In 2020, there were 3 data breaches per day reported and in 2022, there were close to 6 data breaches being reported in the US [1]. Globally, the numbers are significantly higher. Countless companies are now falling victim to these attacks, resulting in severe damage to their brand reputation, substantial financial losses due to class-action lawsuits and stiff fines by the data privacy regulatory agencies [2].There are many techniques for personal data protection. Technology savvy individual users often resort to encrypting their device data using VPN services. Messaging services such as WhatsApp, Signal and others provide end-to-end encryption. However, these services have significant limitations and cannot be used by the organizations to protect an individual’s personal data. The risks faced by enterprises, where huge volume of personal data is stored, managed, processed and shared by the enterprise, are significant and therefore more advanced solutions are required. This is where data anonymization can help to address this critical data privacy challenge.

The purpose of this blog is to shed light on effective cybersecurity measures and safeguarding the most valuable asset of the enterprise – personal data. Our objective is to protect our corporate clients from modern day cyber threats and ensure that they conform to personal data privacy regulations.

The founders of the nonymus come from telecom background. With many years of VPN, IPv6 and other data security protocols, nonymus team started looking into ways to implement personal data privacy solution that would help enterprises ensure that their data repository and sharing process met regulatory requirements. Initial client engagements were related to anonymizing personal data for medical research. Working with healthcare providers and payers, we have developed better understanding of the need for a layered solution that allowed multiple levels of de-identification depending upon the destination of the data. In addition, we have also developed a safe and patented technique for re-identification that provides better control over the data even after it is no longer within the control of source organization. In order to deal with larger data sets and different types of unstructured data, AI techniques with large language model have been developed.

2. Sensitive Data Security

At nonymus, we have only one goal – Ensure that our clients are able to maintain data privacy while the data is in their environment and after the data leaves their environment. We support industry verticals where dealing with sensitive data is part of daily routine. We serve healthcare, insurance, legal, and banking and finance industries through our SaaS solution. Our solution is powered by AI based large language model that de-identify sensitive data within unstructured datasets including text, image, audio, and video files, and mask databases to safeguard personal data of customers, workers, and patients. Our aim is to ensure compliance with Personal Data Privacy (PDP) laws, and mitigate the risks associated with data breaches.

Nonymus’ core objective is to safeguard sensitive information and data that our clients are entrusted with. We not only assist enterprises but also safeguard individuals' privacy. Our solution is based on anonymization (de-identification), pseudonymization, re-identification and employ tactics such as black-lining, masking, tokenization, classification, and using synthetic data generation. These approaches collectively provide a robust and consistent methodology for data protection and privacy enhancement. In addition, we facilitate our clients to enable re-identification in a layered manner to allow further processing of the data outside of our clients’ environment such that the data privacy is always maintained [4].

3. Benefits

By leveraging our services, our clients’ can achieve the following benefits:

§ Mitigating the Risk of Data Breaches: Our business model ensures that our clients’ sensitive data remains secure, and we safeguard our clients’ organization from potential data breaches. Corporate CISO do not need to have sleepless nights as we ensure that our clients' data will never be exposed, preserving both brand reputation and customer trust.

§ Ensuring Compliance with Privacy Laws: We prioritize compliance with personal data privacy (PDP) regulations such as HIPAA, GDPR and other relevant standards [3]. Our solutions enable enterprises to meet the necessary legal requirements, giving the CXOs peace of mind and avoid potential penalties or legal issues.

§ Facilitating Data Sharing: Our platform empowers enterprises to securely share documentation with third parties or conduct analytics and big data processing. Data privacy does not mean that no one can collaborate with trusted partners or leverage data-driven insights while maintaining the highest level of data protection [5].

In today's techno-landscape, enterprises and their customers have become extremely aware of data breaches and the protection of personal and sensitive information. Many organizations tend to focus solely on structured data and databases, overlooking a significant volume of non-structured data present in office documents, emails, images, scanned documents, PDFs, audio and video files. These unstructured datasets account for 3/4th of the information within the enterprise. This, in essence, is the critical data security need of the day. Personal identifiable information (PII), Personal Health Information (PHI) and Payment Card Industry (PCI) data are different categories of information that organizations and hackers can use to identify individuals to provide them with services or misuse the information. PII, PHI, and PCI fall under the category of information governance under all major data privacy regulations. Governance is defined as the security regulations that organizations must follow to protect sensitive client information and maintain transparency about its use. Within this vast dataset, PII, PHI and PCI must be protected for the enterprise to remain compliant to PDP regulations.

4. Conclusions

It is crucial for public and private entities, states, and public administrations to invest substantial resources in cybersecurity measures to prevent hacking, data breaches, and data theft, however, such efforts are primarily defensive approaches against external intrusions. Nonymus proposes a more comprehensive and elegant approach — one that encompasses not only external-to-internal defensive techniques but also incorporates PII, PHI and PCI data discovery, mapping, anonymization, and masking. By adopting this holistic approach, organizations can proactively protect their data, minimize risks, and enhance overall data security.

5. References

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