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April 2012

Understanding tokenization: What is tokenization and when to use it

What's the best way to protect sensitive data from being stolen? Remove it entirely: If data is not present in a system, it can’t be stolen. A steady stream of data breaches demonstrates that IT systems are under attack and underscores how even firms with good security knowledge get it wrong. Just ask Sony, RSA, HBGary Federal, or Stratfor. Information security is hard to do, and the complexity of IT operations hinders our ability to protect data. So why don't we just get rid of sensitive data? No, I am not saying you should delete all your data in order to protect it. I am saying replace sensitive information with something that, if stolen, doesn’t matter. That’s precisely what tokenization does. Tokenization technology removes sensitive data and replaces it with a worthless token. IT systems use the token placeholder as a reference, continuing to function as before, but the risk of leaking information is greatly reduced. There has been quite a buzz around tokenization in heavily regulated industries such as payment processing....

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