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Test Data Management – 3 Steps to Information Security

Information is a key in today’s software projects. Faster feedback loops and user data all come together to provide insights that lead to better quality and innovative improvements, yet this involves security threats. Keep test data secure with these 3 essential steps.

Three Essential Steps to Information Security

Teams have a wider breadth of test data to access than ever before during the software development process. This comes both from fabricated information (usually done during early project phases) as well as actual user data (gathered from real world use of the project or similar apps).

Depending on the industry and nature of the software, test data can glean a lot of personally-identifiable information that must be protected. Let’s take a look at three essential steps to keeping information secure when used as test data.

1. Identify Sensitive Information

Quality assurance management

The first thing to do is to determine what data is sensitive enough to require protection. This could include items like names, addresses, social security numbers, and birth dates. Leaks of this information could lead to identity theft, fraud, and other such consequences for unsuspecting users.

Quality assurance management must protect information that lives under the regulations set by industry standards. HIPAA rules are essential to follow for any medical or patient data, while PCI security standards governs any financial transactions and information, making it one of the most common laws that organizations must comply with.

While it may be clear what type of documents need safeguards, putting them in place can be much trickier. According to Software Testing Help, cloud-based environments, a popular choice among testers, cannot guarantee user privacy, causing concerns despite the other advantages they bring. Luckily, there are different approaches that teams can experiment with to find the solution that fully covers sensitive information.

2. Use Masking Techniques

Data masking techniques

With all of the data at a team’s disposal, they’ll want to use it, but how can they do so without putting sensitive information at risk? Masking is an easy way to convert these sets into non-sensitive data that can be leveraged for analysis or testing.

Computer Weekly contributor Shalini Gupta noted that the de-identification strategy must make sense to developers and testers alike. Any fields should be substituted out with their appropriate counterparts.

For example, alphanumeric characters must be replaced with other alphanumeric characters. This will help teams understand what type of information went there and still transform sensitive data into something that’s usable.

“These technologies are effective, scalable and easy if performed properly,” Gupta wrote. “For example, only sensitive data must be masked, the masked data must not be reversible, and the masked data must represent real data.”

3. Leverage the Right Tools

Testing tools

Testers must be provisioned with the best tools that will not only keep their test cases straight, but will also integrate well with data masking and protection solutions, and will provide a comprehensive overview. Agile test management tools could be the answer here.

Jira Software, together with Zephyr test management and eazyBI reporting, make a powerful set of Agile software management tools. Together these tools not only enable groups to collaborate effectively across projects and see updates in real time, but they can also help teams assign and track all test cases down to the smallest detail.

The security from bringing these forces together will ease the minds of users as well as developers and testers. These types of tools will also lead to a greater accuracy, better security and overall improved quality while delivering applications faster than ever before.

“Test data privacy must be incorporated into businesses’ overall application testing life-cycles,” wrote Database Trends and Applications contributor, Stuart Feravich. “This fosters greater collaboration between security and IT professionals, by getting everyone on the same page in terms of time-lines and schedules. But perhaps most importantly, ensuring test data privacy can be a relatively easy, cost-efficient way to deliver high-quality, adaptable business applications quickly, while minimizing data security risks and taking people - IT, security professionals, and customers - out of harm’s way.”

Masking techniques can help keep sensitive test data secure.

Sanjay Zalavadia Sanjay Zalavadia, VP of Client Services, Zephyr
As the VP of Client Service for Zephyr, Sanjay brings over 15 years of leadership experience in IT and technical support services. Specialized in Agile, leadership, testing, and quality assurance, he has successfully established and grown premier IT and support service teams for large and small companies.

Are you using Zephyr for your test management? Enable the full power of Agile test management with eazyBI for JRIA Server. Import your Zephyr data, visualize and analyze your tests in real time, gain a comprehensive overview, and dig down to the smallest detail.

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