ShieldConex FAQ

Frequently asked questions.

Cybersecurity Protection

Tokenization Overview and How ShieldConex Works

With more data and payment security regulations than ever, it’s imperative that organizations protect all data when it is entered online and when it is stored. Learn more about how ShieldConex secures your sensitive data and helps you comply with data privacy requirements.

Tokenization / Encryption Questions

What is Format Preserving Encryption (FPE)?

Encryption is the process of devaluing sensitive data by using an algorithm to encode sensitive data elements. In format-preserving encryption (FPE), the encoded data elements preserve the same alphabet as the original data. Bluefin leverages FPE to allow your tokenized data to exist within your legacy systems without requiring any refactoring.

What is Format Preserving Tokenization (FPT)?

Tokenization is the process of devaluing sensitive data by substituting sensitive data elements with randomly generated symbols that represent the original sensitive data. In format-preserving tokenization (FPT), the randomly generated symbols use the same alphabet as the original data. Bluefin leverages FPT to allow your tokenized data to exist within your legacy systems without requiring any refactoring.

What is Vaultless Tokenization?

Tokenization is the process of devaluing data by substituting sensitive data elements with randomly generated symbols that represent the original sensitive data.

Most providers initially implemented a token Vault. Here, the data is received, encrypted, and stored – and a “token” is generated and provided back to the Client. In this model, the Service Provider retains the original data in an encrypted format in their Vault. At some point in the future, the “token” is provided by the Client to the Service Provider, who looks up the token, decrypts it, and returns the original data to the Client.

The downside to this model is twofold. First, the Service Provider, rather than the Client, retains the data. This can potentially lead to data sovereignty issues (who has my data and where is it?). Second, the Service Provider typically operates a multi-tenant solution.  The Vault could grow to thousands or millions of rows of data. At some point, performance inevitably becomes an issue. It takes longer and longer to retrieve data.

ShieldConex offers a vaultless approach. With ShieldConex, the tokenized data is returned to the Client for storage. ShieldConex does not store the original data in an encrypted format – it is always tokenized and returned to the Client, mitigating any data sovereignty issues. Additionally, there is no Vault to lead to performance issues. And detokenization requests are returned instantaneously to the Client.

ShieldConex Data Security Questions

Does ShieldConex store any of my data?

ShieldConex is a “vaultless” token solution, so the actual data is never stored in a “vault” or database. Secured data can be unmasked at any time by calling the ShieldConex service using your assigned API key.

Does ShieldConex protect my organization from data breaches?

No, but it will make a data breach irrelevant. ShieldConex devalues your data by replacing it with meaningless values. Thus, if your system is ever breached, the breached data would be useless.

If one of my organization’s computers is stolen or compromised, can sensitive data be compromised?

No, the data on your computer would still be meaningless. Anyone trying to access the data would still need to detokenize or decrypt the data, which would be impossible because they would require API Authentication from Bluefin to do so.

Can ShieldConex protect my existing data?

Yes, ShieldConex is able to protect your existing data at rest by using the API to call the ShieldConex token service.

Can ShieldConex protect my webpage from being compromised?

ShieldConex can add protection. When using the ShieldConex iFrame as a Service (iFaaS), the sensitive data is being captured by ShieldConex directly – not on the webpage of the customer. It also requires an out-of-band, 2-step process to retrieve this data from ShieldConex, adding an additional layer of security. Even with this in place, Bluefin recommends:

  • Regularly analyze all of your own website scripts throughout the development lifecycle
  • Implement client-side protections such as web skimming or malware protection
  • Deploy a bot management solution that is able to detect and defend against sophisticated botnets that result from browser-based attacks.

Can I use ShieldConex to protect data that is entered via a mobile application?

Yes, ShieldConex will also protect data in a mobile environment! If the app is written in a native app framework, the app would need to call Bluefin’s ShieldConex API. If the app is written within a web app framework, it will be able to either leverage the ShieldConex API or leverage the ShieldConex Secure iFrame, depending on your organization’s preference.

What does ShieldConex do that TLS and SSL don’t do?

TLS and SSL are for transport security. That means protecting data as it is transmitted. The purpose of ShieldConex is to give organizations devalued data that they do not need to worry about protecting. ShieldConex tokens protect data at rest (when stored) and allow them to be shared internally and externally under complete control of the customer.

Using ShieldConex Tokens Questions

Can I search customer records (by customer’s name) if the data is anonymized?

In most cases, a customer’s name is not sensitive. It is the metadata about the customer that specifically identifies the customer. For example, there are many John Smith’s but only one that lives at 123 Street in Anytown, NY with a phone number of 516-324-9613.

When defining an anonymization strategy, one should discuss how to find a record – perhaps the last four digits of a social security or phone number, the numeric part of a street address, a name which begins with a specific letter, and so on

ShieldConex is a flexible solution that can be implemented without disrupting your existing business processes. You can integrate ShieldConex into specific business functions as needed. For example, you can integrate ShieldConex with the specific functionality that supports your Data Analysis team where the data needs to an anonymized. (This means, you do not need to integrate ShieldConex with the functionality that supports front desk staff who regularly need to access customer information.)

Will my database require an encryption or tokenization key if I need to access my original data?

No, you do not need to store any keys for this solution—key management is entirely managed by Bluefin. If you ever need to access your original data, your application will call Bluefin’s ShieldConex API.

Will there be any latency in processing tokenizations or detokenizing my data due to ShieldConex?

In legacy “vaulted” tokenization solutions, data is stored on a token server and must be retrieved to use. This form of tokenization requires large databases to map tokens to their original data.

Unlike those legacy vaulted solutions, ShieldConex leverages vaultless tokenization. In this case, tokens are generated on the fly using Hardware Security Modules, eliminating the need for storing any sensitive data. Typical response times are about 1/10th of a second – not perceptible by humans – meaning data is available instantaneously.

Do I need to re-encrypt/retokenize my data after requesting the original data?

No.  The data will remain in a secure state within your backend applications.

Can I update data that’s already been tokenized (or encrypted)?

Yes. You would update the original information as needed and then re-encrypt/retokenize it.

Compliance Questions

Which compliance standards will ShieldConex help me adhere to?

ShieldConex pseudonymizes data. Using ShieldConex’s iFrame as a service, sensitive cardholder data is tokenized and devalued prior to being provided to your organization.  When used with Bluefin’s PayConex processing solution, the tokenized data can be sent directly to PayConex for processing. PayConex will detokenize the data directly with ShieldConex and process the payment transaction. This will make your organization eligible to complete PCI SAQ A, while meeting GDPR and CCPA requirements.

Are there compliance standards for PII and PHI?

Currently, there are numerous compliance standards for PII, including GDPR and CCPA. Most standards that protect PII follow GDPR’s definition of personal data, which include:

  • Name
  • Phone Number
  • Address
  • Identifying Numbers
  • Email Address
  • Photo
  • Geo-location data and IP Addresses
  • Mobile Device Identification
    Biometric information
  • Behavior profile
  • Demographic information

For PHI, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets the standards for protecting PHI in the US. HIPAA requires companies to have physical, network, and process methods for securing PHI. ShieldConex is fully compliant with HIPAA and undergoes yearly HIPAA 3rd Party audits.

Implementation Questions

What effort is required to implement ShieldConex for my organization?

ShieldConex requires little effort to implement for your organization. There is no lengthy on-premise implementation process. ShieldConex is an entirely cloud-based product that leverages APIs and secure iFrames configured through our ShieldConex Manager administration portal. Bluefin will provide access to the ShieldConex APIs, login credentials to ShieldConex Manager, and online integration documentation. We also provide integration assistance as needed to get you organization live with ShieldConex in a timely and successful manner.

Are there software requirements for ShieldConex implementations?

To use our APIs, your application needs to be able to make API calls to ShieldConex.  Our Bluefin-Hosted iFrame feature works as any iFrame would. Simple as that.

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