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Data Masking in Oracle

Data Masking in Oracle

oracle data masking

Data breaches can lead to significant financial losses and legal consequences. Oracle Database is a popular system that helps manage data for businesses. It has a feature called Data Redaction for security. This article will discuss data masking in Oracle Database, its advantages, and how it protects organizations’ sensitive information.

What is Data Masking?

Data masking is a crucial data security technique that involves replacing sensitive information with fictitious but realistic data. This process keeps sensitive data private and secure, making sure it stays safe from unauthorized people or systems. Organizations can use sensitive data safely for testing new software, developing systems, or analyzing data by masking it.

Data masking works by creating a replica of the original data set, but with sensitive information altered or obscured. This can involve techniques such as encryption or data shuffling to make the masked data usable and realistic. Data masking helps organizations follow privacy rules and prevent data breaches or cyber attacks.

Data masking is important for keeping sensitive data secure and private. It helps organizations share and use this data safely without risking its privacy. Using strong data masking techniques helps organizations protect sensitive information and keep data safe and secure.

Oracle Data Redaction

Data Redaction in Oracle Database masks sensitive data in real-time, helping organizations protect it effectively. Sensitive information from the database is automatically hidden or changed to protect the real values when a user requests it. We do this to ensure that the real values remain confidential and secure. This helps prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information and reduces the risk of data breaches.

Data Redaction has a major benefit: it doesn’t need any changes to the original data. This means that organizations can easily implement data masking without having to modify their existing database schema or applications. Data Redaction allows organizations to create specific rules for redacting information, ensuring that only authorized individuals can access sensitive data.

Overall, Data Redaction provides a comprehensive solution for data masking that helps organizations protect their sensitive data and comply with data privacy regulations. Organizations can lower the risk of data breaches by hiding sensitive data instantly. This helps ensure only authorized users can see the information.

How Oracle Data Redaction Works

Oracle Data Redaction works by masking sensitive data returned in query results. When a user searches the database, Data Redaction masks sensitive columns in the result set. The system returns the masked data to the user, while keeping the original data unchanged in the database.

Data Redaction Policies

To implement data masking in Oracle Database, you need to create redaction policies. These policies determine which columns and data types to redact and outline the suitable masking format. Oracle Data Redaction supports various redaction formats, including:

  • Full Redaction: This format replaces the entire value with a fixed string or a null value.
  • Partial Redaction: This format masks a portion of the value while leaving the remaining characters visible.
  • Redaction using regular expressions: You can use a pattern to hide certain parts of the value.
  • Random Redaction: This format replaces the original value with a randomly generated value of the same data type.

Creating a Data Redaction Policy

To create a data redaction policy in Oracle Database, you can use the DBMS_REDACT package. Here’s an example of how to create a policy that masks the “SALARY” column in the “EMPLOYEES” table:

object_schema => 'HR',
object_name => 'EMPLOYEES',
column_name => 'SALARY',
policy_name => 'MASK_SALARY',
function_type => DBMS_REDACT.FULL,
expression => '***********'

In this example, we use the ADD_POLICY procedure to create a redaction policy named “MASK_SALARY”. The policy mandates hiding the “SALARY” column in the “HR.EMPLOYEES” table and replaces the original value with asterisks (‘***********’).

Applying Data Redaction Policies

Once you create a data redaction policy, it applies automatically whenever the specified column is in a query. For example, if a user executes the following query:


The result set will include the masked salary values instead of the original values:

John 		Doe  		***********
Jane		Smith  		***********

Benefits of Data Masking in Oracle Database

Implementing data masking in Oracle Database offers several benefits to organizations:

  1. Data masking: keep sensitive information safe by preventing unauthorized access, reducing the chances of data breaches and maintaining privacy.
  2. Compliance with Regulations: Many industries have stringent data privacy regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI DSS. Data masking enables organizations to comply with these regulations by protecting sensitive data and demonstrating a proactive approach to data security.
  3. Enabling Secure Data Sharing: Data masking helps organizations share data safely with outside parties, like partners or vendors, without revealing sensitive information. You can use masked data for testing, development, or analytics purposes while maintaining data privacy.
  4. Seamless Integration: Oracle Data Redaction integrates seamlessly with existing applications and processes. It operates transparently, requiring no changes to application code or database structures. This makes it easy to implement data masking without disrupting existing workflows.
  5. Centralized Management: The Oracle Database centrally manages Data Redaction policies. This makes it easy to control data masking for different applications and users. This centralized management simplifies policy administration and ensures consistent data protection.

Best Practices for Implementing Data Masking

To effectively implement data masking in Oracle Database, consider the following best practices:

  1. Identify Sensitive Data: Conduct a thorough analyzing of your database to identify columns and tables that contain sensitive information. This will help you prioritize which data you need to mask.
  2. Create Masking Policies: Clearly outline masking policies based on the data’s sensitivity and your needs. Consider factors such as compliance regulations, data usage scenarios, and user roles when creating policies.
  3. Test Masking Policies: Try out masking policies in a test environment first. This will help ensure they function properly and don’t impact application performance. Only implement them in a live environment once you have confirmed their effectiveness.
  4. Monitor and Audit: Regularly monitor and audit data access to ensure that masking policies are effective and consistently applied. Oracle Data Redaction integrates with Oracle Audit Vault and Database Firewall, enabling comprehensive auditing and monitoring capabilities.
  5. Teach users about data masking: through training programs to protect sensitive information and raise awareness about its importance. Ensure that users understand their responsibilities in handling masked data and reporting any potential issues.


Data masking is a critical component of data security in Oracle Database. By leveraging the Data Redaction feature, organizations can protect sensitive information from unauthorized access, comply with data privacy regulations, and enable secure data sharing. Oracle Data Redaction helps organizations protect data by masking it with customizable formats, policies, and centralized management.

Implementing data masking in Oracle Database requires careful planning, policy definition, testing, and monitoring. Companies can keep data safe and build trust by using Oracle Data Redaction and following best practices for security.

Data masking is a technique used by organizations to protect their valuable information assets from unauthorized access. It involves replacing sensitive data with realistic but fictional data, making it impossible for hackers or unauthorized users to decipher the original information.

In Oracle Database, data masking is a crucial tool for organizations looking to safeguard their sensitive data. By implementing data masking techniques, organizations can prevent data breaches and maintain the privacy of their customers and employees. This is important in industries like healthcare, finance, and government, where protecting sensitive information is crucial.

Data masking in Oracle Database works by applying masking rules to specific columns or tables within the database. Rules can change the masked data in ways like substitution, shuffling, or encryption. This keeps the data realistic and usable for testing or development, while also protecting the original sensitive information.

Overall, data masking in Oracle Database is an essential component of a comprehensive data security strategy. Data masking helps organizations reduce data breach risks, protect valuable information, and comply with privacy regulations.


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