Data anonymization – everything you need to know

Learn everything you need to know about data anonymization in this article. What is this process, when should you anonymize and how to do it?

Data anonymization, in short, is a process that consists in transforming personal data in such a way that it is impossible to assign specific information to a given natural person. Anonymization makes it possible to remove any link between the data and the data subject.

Due to the fact that the GDPR is to ensure the protection of personal data, we are talking about pseudonymization. This is one of the methods of anonymization, however, it is less secure for information. In this process, the identification data is replaced by so-called codenames which are still personal data (but encrypted) that are subject to the protection of the GDPR.
The use of anonymization in the context of the GDPR is extremely important, because the provisions on encrypted data are much less restrictive than in the case of pure data (those that have not been pseudonymized). This ensures, among other things, much greater legal security and generates lower costs. Anonymized data can also be used for purposes other than those initially assumed. They can also be stored indefinitely. One should also not forget about the undoubted advantage of ensuring the security of personal data thanks to the anonymization process.

There are many ways to anonymize:

randomization – it is a purely random division of data, which eliminates the close relationship between these data and an individual,
pseudonymization – it is a kind of data coding. Depending on the needs, it can be a reversible or irreversible process,
generalization – lowering the precision of data. It consists in the use of generalization (e.g. instead of a specific age, the use of intervals, etc.),
character masking – consists in partially changing the characters of specific data by using a fixed symbol.

Other methods of anonymization are, for example: register suppression, attribute suppression, data perturbation or data aggregation. An interesting solution that greatly facilitates work with sensitive personal data is the software that automates GALL data masking. Thanks to the use of this type of solutions, you gain confidence and guarantee of data security and compliance with the provisions of the GDPR.

You should also not forget about the right to be forgotten guaranteed by the GDPR. Pseudo-anonymization allows you to replace real personal data of the client with anonymized data, while maintaining the consistency of the database.