Financial Data at Risk in Development: A Call for Data Masking
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Overview: This Informatica sponsored study, conducted by the Ponemon Institute, surveyed 437 senior IT professionals in the financial services industry whose organizations have been engaged in application testing and development in order to better understand if the risk of using real data in development is being addressed.
An overlooked privacy risk for financial services organizations is the vulnerability of personal and business information used for testing and application development. During the test and development phase of new software applications that real data – including financial records, transactional records, and other personally identifiable information (PII) – is being used by as many as 80 percent of organizations. Further, test environments are less secure because data is exposed to a variety of unauthorized sources, including in-house testing staff, consultants, partners and offshore development personnel.
The study findings suggests that security decision-making may be motivated more by achieving business objectives than by addressing data security risks through compliance and the application of best security practices. The study also suggests that the cost-saving advantages of these services may be taking precedence over security considerations.
Given the potential for heavy fines and penalties, customer churn, reputational damage, and the overall costs associated with a data breach, it is recommended that financial services organizations proceed with great caution before outsourcing to third parties. This should include a vigorous evaluation of any prospective partner’s security policies and procedures, and with detailed contractual provisions to further ensure information security remains a priority throughout the process.