Dimension’s User Anonymization makes Data Protection Easy

Brendan Patterson's picture

27 Jun 2016 By Brendan Patterson
Categories: Dimension and WSM


Data privacy and protection is a BIG deal, and many countries are setting new regulatory standards for how to move, store, view, and report on data containing users’ personally identifiable information, or PII.

The European Union (EU) in particular is setting precedents with some of the most stringent data and privacy protection controls in the world. In April 2016, the EU Parliament officially adopted the General Data Protection Regulation framework, or GDPR, scheduled for full enforcement in two years. Obligations coming as part of the GDPR are significant, and accountability – especially regarding a business’s workforce – is an important component of compliancy. Malicious insider activities are a major source of data abuse and breaches. “Encrypt everything” is a great start, but it’s just a band-aid solution for meeting compliance obligations.

Among a new set of requirements, EU businesses will be required to demonstrate compliance with GDPR measures that include:

  • Appointing a Data Protection Officer, or DPO
  • Ensuring the pseudonymization of personal data – PII is anonymized to the extent that it cannot be attributable to its owner during any stage of processing.

WatchGuard’s Dimension™ visibility platform delivers a new User Anonymization feature that takes an organization’s ability to comply with the GDPR framework to the next level. The feature works very simply, is easily accessible and configurable, and was designed with GDPR compliance and the reality of insider threats in mind.

The best way to understand the new feature is to look at the screenshot below:

When enabled, User Anonymization works by dynamically replacing all PII – user names, IP addresses, host names, and mobile devices – in Dimension’s reports, dashboards, and summary pages with hashed placeholder text.

The Anonymization Officer, a new role available in Dimension to support GDPR compliance, was inspired by the Data Protection Officer (DPO) role introduced in the GDPR framework. The Anonymization Officer role was created in such a way that a technical or non-technical person can hold it, and it fulfills the “four-eyes” or two-logins approach to role-based access. For example, when an IT admin needs to de-anonymize Dimension, the admin would need approval from the Anonymization Officer. This avoids situations where a single person holds all the access to PII without any accountability or external verification.

Does your current solution provide such a comprehensive yet simple approach to data privacy protection? To find out more about WatchGuard’s solution, check out our User Anonymization Tech Brief. Also feel free to check out our Dimension demos - one with Anonymized Mode off and the other with it enabled. (They share the same login credentials.)

Note: WatchGuard Dimension is included at no charge with all Firebox and XTMv models.