Stolen and compromised data is one of the biggest concern of businesses and individuals in an increasingly cyber-centric world. Companies like Kiddicare have had sensitive customer data exploited during development and testing. Individuals who have had their information stolen due to corporate QA or development testing feel victimized and are often at greater risk for future attacks from cyber criminals. Breaches in security result in emotional and economic consequences for businesses and their customers.
From a development and testing standpoint, the use of live data is enormously valuable. Live data allows for better, more accurate testing of software and programs and is better for predicting realistic results. The problems with using traditional testing methods (e.g. compromised customer information) on live data result from using unencrypted, physical copies and under-informed employees who may not know when and where it is safe to access sensitive data. That’s where virtualization has the potential to increase data security for development teams.
Virtualizing data allows developers to work with secured, clean data in environments that accurately simulate the desired data’s final setting. Good, usable data results from virtualization’s ability to encrypt and tokenize data, irreversibly if required. Encryption is standard in most all virtualization processes as a basic security measure (whereas encryption is not yet standard in testing of physical data), which makes it possible to take John Doe’s information and analyze it as if it were Steve Smith’s. Delphix is one company thriving in the virtualization market. Their Data as a Service platform excels in masking, replicating and provisioning data in a virtualized environment.
Virtualization not only benefits development teams’ security, but it also speeds up development time and makes access for authorized users easier. A virtualized environment removes the need for special authorizations for development teams, allowing them access to the data they need faster. Virtualization also allows hundreds more copies of data to be used at any given time than traditional data management. Instead of a handful of data copies being used by IT, development and QA teams, hundreds can be generated so that each team can run dozens of tests on the same data at the same time. The increased accessibility of data for development teams reduces the time to test and launch new products and software.
A word to this wise: virtualization requires its own security precautions. Many companies out there have the notion that virtualization makes everything safe and that the security measures used for physical data environments are sufficient for virtualized environments, and that’s simply not the case. If secured and used properly, however, virtualization has the potential to be a powerful tool for developers. If used correctly, virtualization can help developers expand and grow their testing potential while also reducing the time it takes to run these tests.