What are the differences between data masking and encryption?

data masking and encryption

All of us are connected on the internet in such a cluster that breaches are most likely to happen every now and then.

Sensitive information that you have on your computer or phones might be at a risk due to different programs or vulnerabilities that you can face during your normal internet browsing.

And to save all this sensitive data of yours from getting breached or compromised, concepts like data masking and encryption come into the picture.

Now, data masking and encryption and two different concepts. Both revolve around the same job, yet have different things to take care of.

Data Masking vs encryption: An Overview

People usually confuse encryption as to a form of data masking, which isn’t true.

And the worst part is that both these concepts align for a lot of people to be the same. Well, that?s not true again.

Data masking and data encryption are two distinct processes.

Of course, there are a few similarities between data masking and data encryption, but the differences are significant.

No doubt both of these concepts are designed to ensure data protection, but there are a few things that are the difference and you might actually believe the same when you reach the end of this post.

So, let’s start pointing out some of the major differences between data masking and encryption.


For the encryption part, there?s a strong need for reversibility. However, for masking, the same reversibility is a weakness.

For the key differences part, let?s take the help of a table that we could use to make you understand both these concepts.

Data Masking

  • Data Masking hides the elements that certain users are not allowed to see. The same is replaced with similar-looking fake data which typically saves the original data from being accessed.
  • It is like a wall of data that is built against the real data so as to save vital information.
  • It doesn?t encrypt the information. The data is present in the naive form and no decryption key is required.
  • It is commonly used to secure real-time transactional systems along with taking care of data privacy, compliance implementation, and data maintenance.?

Data Encryption

  • It’s the process of the conversion of information into unreadable algorithms for everybody except the one who has the decryption key.
  • In Data Encryption, there is no fake data layer over the real data. However, the data is converted into a scrambled collection that?s non-readable.
  • To access the data and restore the messages, a corresponding decrypting algorithm along with the original encryption key is used.
  • It’s commonly used for protecting files on a local network, cloud disk drive, email traffic protection, and network communication.

Data Masking vs Data Encryption: The fundamental functioning?

Data Masking is usually used by users who test with sensitive data or perform research on sensitive projects. Data, when asked for, goes through a number of systems. The same could pose a risk for the data to be misused or worse, stolen.

However, with the process of redacting, the important elements of the whole data set are protected by forming a masked layer, yet it is often irreversible.

Just like redacting, processes like de-identification also identify the information in the data set. This prevents the identification of data, even by the people who are conducting the research in the first place.?

Masking is a method that’s commonly used in internet solutions, at least in 2020. Even the most brutal data attacks find it hard to read the information under data masking.

Data Encryption, on the other hand, is used to protect data that are transferred through a variety of networks or computers.?

When sensitive data is transferred, a breach could result in a heavy loss of sensitive information. Encryption is more like a lock on top of the data that basically unlocks gibberish when a breach is attempted.

Conversion of the same data into random phrases or alphabets and numbers creates a very secure result. To access the data, the only way is to unlock it with a key or a password that an authorized user has access to.


Obviously, at this point, your question would be, What data process offers the best protection??

Right, here’s an obvious answer.?

Both of these processes have their own uses and are used for different purposes. The whole comparison is irrelevant because their use barely aligns with each other.

Masking is more secure, of course, but the data that?s present inside is rendered useless.

Do the masked data have no value for anyone who steals it and the information can?t be used for anything but to run tests on software that?s still in a development state.

There’s nothing valuable for hackers in masked data. They would rather attempt on encrypted data than masked data. At this point, the choice and need are yours.