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An explosion in apps development means security headaches for CIOs

App development teams need to test against copies of the production database — each copy increases the risk of a major security breach.

Security breaches never look good on a CIO resumé, yet the explosion in app development is rapidly increasing the likelihood of a serious data breach. That's because each app development team needs a copy of the production data to test against, adding another route for hackers.

A recent study commissioned by Actian found that 43% of CEOs would fire their CIO/CTO if there was a security breach from a tech investment.

CIOs are under pressure to accelerate the development of apps. Each app development team needs a clone of the production database to test against. That clone contains sensitive information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, and more.

When there's multiple app development teams, there's now multiple new ways for that sensitive data to be breached.

Business at the speed of apps...

"There's an app for that...," has entered our language and everyday use. Business performance is increasingly tied to speedy apps development -- it is how "customer experience" is defined for a digital business. But the pressure to develop more apps and faster, is increasing the security risk for the entire enterprise.

What can a CIO do? Even if they bought every single computer security tool sold at the huge annual RSA conference, it likely wouldn't be enough. Determined hackers will always find a way inside.

Data masking, however, combined with a virtual database approach, is a solution that is gaining traction. It is being used by some of the world's largest organizations, such as Cisco Systems and Molina Healthcare.

Unbreakable security...

Data masking is not like encryption, which can be broken. Data masking overwrites the data without changing the format -- making it safe to use by anyone (sorry hackers!). Even if hackers get inside the enterprise the masked data looks real but is utterly useless to them.

Done right, data masking combined with a virtual database approach can speed up a 12-month app development project to six-months or less, especially when organizations adopt a devops approach, which stresses a culture of continual testing and deployment.

When apps can be securely delivered months ahead of schedule it keeps the entire business competitive. And that protects a lot of jobs -- not just the CIO's.

Without the right tools, data masking and provisioning new database clones is hugely labor and time intensive and that means many large enterprises try a short-cut: they build a security perimeter around their app development teams and hope no one finds a hole. There's always a hole.