Most businesses are using Microsoft SQL Server databases to store their data, but there are some things that can trip you up if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Learn how to use masks (also known as wildcards) when querying data with SQL Server. I’ve been using these masks quite a bit recently and wanted to share some of the things that I have learned about how they work. I will explain how to mask data and what kind of masking you can perform.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to hide and modify data with a few simple steps.
Determine the Purpose of the Query
A query is any question or series of questions you ask a human being. The first step in answering any query is to determine the purpose of the query because your answers to these questions will determine which method to use to achieve that purpose.
If you are trying to get the user to sign up for a mailing list, you want to know the email address the user wants to receive future emails from. The purpose of that question is to get the user to provide his or her email address.
The purpose of query masking is to protect the privacy of individuals. The data can be used for statistical analysis or any other purpose but it should be masked so that individual identities are not revealed.
The data is anonymized so that it cannot be tied back to any specific person, rather than just a group of people. The main reason to mask the data is to avoid misuse of the data by researchers who use it for a different purpose.
Plan Your Approach to the Problem
The idea behind data masking is that customers don’t want to give up their personal information. They’ll happily reveal a little bit of information to get something of value, like a discount, but if the customer has to divulge too much of his or her personal data, he or she will be reluctant to give up their personal information.
Delphix Data masking can be used effectively to make a website more attractive to customers and drive conversions.
Build a Visualization Model
You can’t see any data in the world you’re dealing with, so a visualization model is a tool to help you visualize how things are, what their structure is, and how they’re related. Think of a visualization model as a blueprint of how things work in a system. You can then use your knowledge of that blueprint to make sense of new data.
Visualization models are most useful when you’re trying to understand an underlying pattern, process, or relationship in something complex. If you’ve ever taken an intro to math or physics class, you’ve likely used a visualization model to understand those types of concepts.
To get started, you need to ask yourself two questions: What does it look like when the problem is solved? and What does it look like when it doesn’t? When you answer these questions, you’ll have a better idea of the data’s quality. The first step is to create a visualization of the problem.
This visualization can be made by creating a chart that shows what a person would see if they looked at your data. You might be surprised by how bad the data is if you see what the chart looks like. Then, take the data apart piece by piece and look for inconsistencies.
Get the Data from SQL Server
This was a very interesting question and we were lucky to have an audience member who had already been using SQL Server Reporting Services for his company. He gave us a good example of how to get the data from your server using SSRS.
His process consisted of creating a stored procedure (that he then called using a query), then querying that stored procedure in SSRS. When we asked if he could explain more of his process to us, he said that the benefit of this method over querying directly against the database was that it kept the data clean.
By keeping the data clean, the results returned by SSRS were always consistent. This was important for him as he was also able to use this data to build up reports that his users could run.
Apply the Visualization Model
The second tip is visualization-and it’s a technique I’ve learned in my years of business. It has proven to be very effective at helping me to see things that I don’t see or that are hidden from me. And when you’re starting out, it’s the most effective way to learn how to work with SQL Server.
For example, when working with data, you may have a table that contains one row of data with a column containing a date in the format dd/mm/yyyy, whereas another table in the database has a column containing a date in the yyyy-mm-dd format.
When you join these two tables together, they won’t match up. It would be a good idea to use visualization and see what happens when you join them together.
The Visualization Model is the primary method for identifying the problems you want to solve. I’m a big fan of using this model because it’s a great starting point and can be adapted to meet your needs. The model itself is pretty simple: we visualize a problem and then use what we see to determine how to solve it.
- Hack: Prevent SQL Server from auto-detecting your passwords when you create a new database.
- Hack: Add new users to a SQL Server database without revealing your password.
- Hack: Use the WITH LOGIN clause to automatically create logins and assign them to the current user.
- Hack: Add multiple users to a single database by creating a linked server.
- Hack: Get rid of unwanted login names by removing them from the sys.login$ catalog view.
In conclusion, in this blog post, we’ll look at how to mask data in SQL Server by using a new table called a covering index. Covering indexes are a special kind of index that can mask the data on a table and make it appear to the end user as if it was being retrieved from a different table.
This can be useful if you’re writing queries that span multiple tables and need to mask some of the data between the tables. You can read more about covering indexes in my next blog.
Check out the free whitepaper “How to Mask Data in SQL Server: Step by Step”, which shows how to easily mask and replace sensitive data, while still being able to query the database.