Tell Us What You Want: Protecting Private or Sensitive Data with OWB

We know people read this blog, and so we try to use it to disseminate helpful tips and tricks.


But we hope to make this more than a one-way conversation with our customers, current and potential.  So occasionally, we'll post a raw idea here-- something for which we don't necessarily have a complete answer today.


We want to know if these issues are really problems for you, and what you'd like to see done about them.


When designing a report or other output based upon your warehouse, the designer may well not know the origin of the data included in those outputs. Thus the person developing a seemingly innocent report-- say, a list of student grades or housing assignments-- might inadvertently include a column exposing social security numbers in the form of a student identifier. Your organization could suddenly run afoul of some privacy law.


Heterogeneous data sources and targets compound this issue, in that features at the database level may not preserve whatever metadata about sensitive information was available at the source.


There are ways to use Warehouse Builder to mitigate some of these risks. For example:



  • Starting with any columns in the source that contain sensitive data, use impact analysis to identify any objects downstream that are based on the column.

  • If you have metadata for your outputs in OWB, you can trace back the lineage from that end to identify any sensitive fields, and determine whether the values have been adequately obfuscated along the way.

  • Data profiling techniques could be used to determine whether any data "looks like" sensitive data (e.g. matches the built-in data rules for a social security number).

Of course, the more metadata OWB has about your sources, targets and generated outputs, the more effective these mitigation techniques are-- which, conveniently, gives you additional incentives to use Warehouse Builder. :)


But you know more about your problems than we do. Let us know what, if anything, like this keeps you awake at night.


Are we going to build exactly what you ask for? Probably not. (If only life worked that way.) But are we are listening? Absolutely. The more we hear from you, the faster we can evolve OWB to fit your needs.

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