First impressions from German Testing Day 2014

German_Testing_Day_7There is always a special kind of excitement when you attend and exhibit at the conference you haven’t been before. Now it’s clear that our appearance on the German Testing Days 2014 in Berlin paid off. The conference proved to be very successful in many ways. First of all, we built a stronger relationship with a German testing process specialist, the imbus AG, who were also generous enough to share with us the booth space so we could present BizDataX seamlessly to the German Testing Day attendees. The conference itself was very focused on testing and QA processes, vast majority of the attendees were testing professionals so it was quite easy for us to present test data management tool like BizDataX and we had quite a lot of great feedback. Venue and the services were great, so most likely we will return next year. For our German clients: mehr über die Konferenz und zusätzliche Photos finden Sie hier!

Get updated BizDataX documents

We have just updated some of the basic BizDataX documentation to reflect recent changes in the new 2.0 version. Feel free to download BizDataX Data Sheet and the white paper BizDataX Test Data Management Concepts and let us know your comments on that!

Next stop TechDays 2013, Basel, Switzerland

A premier Microsoft conference in Switzerland, the TechDays 2013 took place on November 12th and 13th in Basel. Over 1000 participants had a chance to take part on both development and IT pro sessions presenting Windows 8.1, Windows Phone, Windows Azure, Web Technologies, Office 365, SharePoint, Private-Public-Hybrid Cloud, Windows Server and Client, SQL Server, Office System, just to name a few. Not less interesting was in the exhibition hall where 14 sponsors (including Ekobit / BizDataX) presented their products and solutions. We presented BizDataX, our Test Data Management Platform and TeamCompanion, an Outlook AddIn that connects Outlook with the Team Foundation Server.
If you think that challenges of generating high quality test data would not be interesting to audience comprised primarily of developers and IT professionals you will be wrong! We got lots of feedback from the attendees describing their significant efforts in generating test data for the application pools. It is clear that IT departments need to focus more on automating the process of test data management (if they want to stay efficient and comply to the data privacy acts). Anyway, we had great two days in Basel, delivered a number of presentations and enjoyed talking to attendees and other sponsors. Here are just a couple of pictures, to recall a great atmosphere on the conference!

BizDataX was showcased at EuroSTAR conference in Gothenburg, Sweden!

EuroSTAR conference definitely met our expectations and we enjoyed the conference, excellent speakers and interesting topics around software testing. We want to thank all attendees who visited our booth and talked to us about BizDataX, Test Data Management and Data Masking giving us valuable feedback.

Here are a couple of pictures, just to recall a great atmosphere on the conference and the party!

Start with data masking: Step by step Implementation of BizDataX Design Components

V2.0 is about to be released! We'll be publishing info about new features in a series of blog posts. In this post we’ll be explaining the basics and overall process of development of data masking packages with BizDataX Design Components.

BizDataX Design Components enables designing of data masking packages visually which makes it easier to implement and maintain data transformations and data masking logic specifics. The tool is integrated with Visual Studio development environment. Integration with Workflow Designer, a part of clip_image001Windows Workflow Foundation, enables visual implementation and visual insight into implemented data masking logic. Entity Designer, a part of clip_image001[1]Entity Framework, is used to model entities representing data. Testing of data masking logic is supported by clip_image001[2]Visual Studio Debugger. Figure 1 shows a typical screen layout with toolbox to the left (1), design surface in the middle (2) and properties (3) to the right.

Figure 1: BizDataX Design Components integration with Visual Studio and typical user interface layout

Figure 1: BizDataX Design Components integration with Visual Studio and typical user interface layout

In order to start using data masking, the organization has to analyze the data and applications, implement and test the masking logic, produce a deployment package, deploy the package and use it to mask production data.

First step – Deciding on masking methods

Handling of sensitive data requires systematic approach. The process should always start with analysis phase, the phase in which data owners, experts, developers and testers should sit together to analyze data structures and interactions between different IT systems. The team needs to agree up front what data is sensitive. Different masking methods should be discussed, together with effects that they could cause to the application as a whole and in detail at the column level.

Second step – Implementing and testing masking logic

Implementation of the masking logic starts with the definition of a data model. Entity Framework can be used to build the model from scratch or from an existing database with “generate from database” option. Figure 2 shows a sample entity diagram.

Figure 2: Entity diagram representing the database

Figure 2: Entity diagram representing the database

The data masking logic is defined visually with tools provided by Windows Workflow Foundation. BizDataX Design Components adds many toolbox groups and items which are specialized for data masking such as tools for generating random numbers and dates, picking of random replacement first or last names, data shuffling or replacing credit card or social security numbers.

Figure 3: BizDataX toolbox items

Figure 3: BizDataX toolbox items

Individual tools can be combined into sequences, blocks, or conditional and distribution branches which enable definition of complex data masking logic. Items can be rearranged with natural drag-drop or copy-paste. The view can be zoomed and navigated. In short, the design experience provides everything that is expected from a modern visual development environment.

Figure 4: Visual definition of a data masking logic, segment for masking US social security numbers

Figure 4: Visual definition of a data masking logic, segment for masking US social security numbers

In addition to visual design tools, BizDataX Design Components ships with comprehensive and powerful data masking API to support advanced scenarios. API enables making any .Net or native SQL code snippets a part of the data masking package.

Third step - Producing deployment package

Visual Studio build process can be used to build release binaries and prepare the data masking package for deployment to a staging or production environment with BizDataX Runtime Features installed. The build process identifies dependencies and copies all the binaries and all the dependencies into one location. The build process also generates the manifest data containing the information about configuration parameters, process structure and other execution and progress reporting capabilities implemented.

Fourth step - Deploying package and start masking process

The package is copied and registered with BizDataX Runtime (see of clip_image001[3]BizDataX Runtime Help for details). BizDataX Runtime enables immediate or scheduled execution of registered masking packages. Administrators configure execution environment, define execution parameters, configure hosting environment, monitor and manage executions.

Figure 5: BizDataX Runtime

Figure 5: BizDataX Runtime

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This is the overall process which can be repeated iteratively. In fact, the organization should establish normal project control mechanisms and start planning i.e. continuous maintenance of data masking if changes to applications or data structures are expected. BizDataX Design Components supports the process.

In the next post we will go one step further with the implementation BizDataX to keep explaining. See you soon!

Organizations start to be aware of the importance of protecting their data

Recent consumerization trends are forcing organizations to open information systems (IT) to customers, partners, contractors and employees. The systems are accessed by many devices, some of them are mobile or not company owned. At the same time, regulations and industry standards enforce more strict rules, and the organizations are becoming aware that they need to do more to protect their trade secrets and intellectual property. Traditional methods, such as encryption and classical access control technologies are losing the battle. We hear and read about privacy breaches on a daily basis. USA’s Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is just one of many organizations that keep records and make information about incidents publicly available. Details can be accessed at https://www.privacyrights.org/. For example in 2012, PRC records show 673 incidents that led to the exposure of more than 26 million sensitive records. The highest ratios of incidents, 45% of them, were caused by some unexpected event and were categorized as“random incidents”. 13% of the incidents resulted from insider attacks, which became more subtle and complex, and were connected to industrial espionage or identity theft sometimes.

Data masking appears to be simple solution to the problem

Data masking, sometimes called data obfuscation, anonymization or un-identification, looks very promising. The data is sufficiently altered to protect the privacy and yet, masked data is real enough to allow normal operations. For example, instead of using real names, different processes within the organization can use fake customer names most of the time. By doing that, organizations are reducing risk significantly. The idea is very simple, however, organizations underestimate the effort needed to implement it properly which leads to poor results. For example, by trying to develop scripts or home-grown data masking solution in some other form, organizations are generating even more pressure on already overwhelmed resources such as DBAs and software developers.

Systematic approach and data masking platforms are the way to go. Data masking projects benefit from using data masking tools and platforms, for instance our BizDataX is powerful and flexible tool that has been design for enterprise companies. Feel free to contact us and we will help you to keep your sensitive data safe!

BizDataX was showcased at Swiss Testing Day conference in Zurich!

Ekobit presented BizDataX at this year’s Swiss Testing Day conference that was held on March 13th, in Zurich, Switzerland

BizDataX, an innovative data masking platform was showcased at the Swiss Testing Day conference. The testing audience was able to learn more about this customizable data masking solution that enables safe secondary usage of data. BizDataX was available for live testing with constant presence of an expert from Ekobit team that answered numerous questions and chatted with the participants during the conference.

BizDataX attracted interest of Swiss Testing Day participants due to the growing importance of testing data quality, privacy concerns and the flexibility which BizDataX platform offers. For more news on BizDataX and the importance of preserving data privacy when testing your applications, contact us or follow BizDataX on Twitter.

Swiss Testing Day conference is the premier software testing conference that brings the most up-to-date information, tools, and technologies available in the industry today. The Ekobit presenters of BizDataX hope to see you all next year as well!

BizdataX was presented at ALM Summit 3, in Redmond, Washington, USA

BizDataX was on a tour again. This time we attended ALM Summit 3 conference, from January 28th to February 1st at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond, Washington!

ALM Summit

Ekobit was one of the Gold Sponsors of this year’s ALM Summit 3 conference where we presented our data masking solution - BizDataX. Besides interesting conversations and friendly atmosphere we gained deeper insight into application lifecycle management. We learned out about case studies that show industry's best practices and development challenges from ALM area. We had a chance to gather the expertise and learn how Microsoft's ALM Solutions enable and support best practices.

This year's ALM Summit plenary sessions hosted by Microsoft executives and industry experts were focusing on ALM Leadership, Agile Development, and new this year; DevOps and Testing. Also, popular full-time Hands-On-Lab featuring self-guided tutorials on TFS and Test Lab Management.

Most importantly, BizDataX solution was presented at the conference as a part of sponsor’s expo,. There we had a chance to talk and present this product to the conference attendees.

Big thanks to all participants and our new friends! We are at your disposal for more information about the BizDataX product.

BDX BoothBizDataX Booth 1Ekobit BoothIMG_1264IMG_1272

BizDataX at Case conference about data privacy: Protect sensitive by working with near-real data

BizDataX, premium data masking tool, was presented at Case conference in Zagreb in December. Martin Kralj from Ekobit talked about the challenges of managing sensitive data and the importance of data masking.

“Why is data so important? A lot of information about all of us is collected and preserved in different databases on daily basis. For example, information where you live, when you go to sleep, which coffee shops you visited, which hotels you stayed in, and for how long. With a little database cross-referencing, one can learn a lot about us, for example which wine you bought at local restaurant, what you ate for lunch, which size of shoes you wear, when you last time visited your ophtalmologyst, all this without talking to you, without setting foot in your house, and without speaking to your closest friends and family”, said Mr. Kralj.

(Un)fortunately, contemporary organizations need this information to grow and survive on the competitive market. But in order to protect this important and sensitive data from unauthorized use and theft, organizations need to implement different methods of protection. This helps prevent financial losses, helps to achieve compliance with mandatory regulations and saves companies’ image.

“Building high quality test databases can be a tricky task, however with the use of tools and a structured methodology it is possible to quickly improve the quality of your testing data and bring tangible benefits in the quality of your delivered applications, while ensuring you comply with data protection laws”, said Kralj.

The key is to lower the risks by avoiding using raw sensitive data and using masked data instead. Different data masking techniques include suppression, redaction (blacking-out), substitution, randomization, generalization and shuffling.

Data masking can make data management of sensitive information a lot easier. It lowers the risks while enabling normal functioning of all other processes that are fuelled by data. Find out more about data masking through BizDataX blog!

Visual Studio ALM Days: Successful conference participation for BizDataX

After a notable presentation at the StarWest conference in USA, BizDataX, a premium data masking tool, was successfully presented at the Visual Studio ALM Days in Munich, Germany.

Protection of data is a major topic among experts and users worldwide. An ever-increasing quantity and importance of data suggests that data breaches, when they occur, are becoming more dangerous and expensive for the company. Therefore, it is not surprising that BizDataX, an innovative data masking platform from Ekobit, caused a lot of interest from the participants of Visual Studio ALM Days conference.

ALM Days Munich

The conference was held from 22nd to 24th of November, in which time BizDataX was showcased to a number of manufacturers, service providers, experts and users. The conference proved to be an excellent opportunity to share first-hand experiences, feedback, questions and engage in direct conversation about current issues in the data masking industry.

It is worth noting that ALM Days gathered a large number of renowned experts from Microsoft-ALM community, including several Microsoft’s MVPs and keynote speakers such as Sam Guckenheimer, the Product Owner of Microsoft Visual Studio product line and Brian Harry, a Microsoft Technical Fellow.

The positive atmosphere and a vibrant working environment is a certain motive for the expert team of BizDataX to visit ALM conference next year as well!

BizDataX BoothParticipants at ALM Days