Why your organisation must seed its databases

Seeding is the practice of planting dummy details into a database. Organisations do this so that they can monitor how the information is being handled and identify when it has been misused or breached.

The practice is becoming increasingly popular, as organisations understand its benefits. For example, it helps:

  • Identify data loss: you can quickly identify unexpected use of your data, enabling you to get on top of a data loss as early as possible
  • Proof of ownership: seeds contain a unique code, meaning you can be sure that the records come from your database.
  • Deter data theft: by seeding data, you mitigate the risk of staff and third parties misappropriating information.
  • Monitor third-party use: you can monitor your information even when it moves beyond your organisation’s direct control.

Moreover, database seeding is much less expensive than alternatives data loss identification tools, and it’s a proven technique to help organisation win legal cases.

Using your data responsibly

The increased regulatory pressure to protect sensitive data – with the likes of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) – mean that organisations must ensure that they information they process is handled responsibly.

If they fail to do so, they face significant fines, as well as reputational damage and the loss of customers.

The route to compliance doesn’t necessarily begin by preventing cyber attacks but by reviewing the way you process information. After all, many security incidents occur because of internal error.

By seeding your databases, you reinforce the fact that the information is an asset that needs careful management.

In many cases, your marketing department has worked hard to gain this information and your IT team has built systems to protect it. You shouldn’t waste this work by neglecting to monitor the data and potentially exposing it.

Dave Battson, the director of Data HQ, described our Commercial Data Seeding service as “vital in helping [to] secure the data that we hold and making sure that our data licenses are not contravened.

“We have managed to stop a number of companies misusing the data and in some instances we have reclaimed costs for additional use.”

Aimed at commercial data owners, our data seeding service has been used successfully over the last 20 years to track the usage of valuable data assets on behalf of their owners.

We provide unique seed records for you to add to your data supplies and we then monitor how your data is being used by your partners, resellers or direct end clients. The service works for e-mail, physical mail, landlines and mobiles building a detailed picture of the real use of your data.


  • Luke Irwin

    Luke Irwin is a former writer for DQM GRC. He has a master's degree in Critical Theory and Cultural Studies, specialising in aesthetics and technology.

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