IBM offers tool to mask private data

Von Marc L.

IBM this week announced a middleware tool that it said will enable users to access and analyze private information without revealing details that are off-limits to the users.

Called DB2 Anonymous Resolution, the software will let organizations -- most likely in the financial services, health care and retail markets -- share and compare data for study, but will keep sensitive information such as a person"s identity masked. For instance, with a patient"s identity or other personal information cloaked, public health care organizations can collaborate on medical research, yet avoid violating regulatory privacy requirements.

In a statement, IBM said the masking is accomplished by assigning the data a digital signature that ensures the integrity of the information. The tool can also examine the information and detect if two different pieces of data originated from a single source.

"With the recent rise in identity theft and unintentional information disclosure, customers across all industries are telling us that the ability to safely and securely share data is a top priority for their businesses," said John Slitz, vice president of the IBM Entity Analytics unit, which is offering the Anonymous Resolution software.

Moreover, said IBM, it can enable a way of sharing information that is even more secure than using data encryption.

DB2 Anonymous Resolution is available immediately. It is priced at US$25,000 per CPU.