Anonymising Jira application data

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Support requests are often resolved significantly faster if a data export is provided as it will allow our legendary supporters direct access to a copy of your instance. We understand that sometimes this may be a difficult option due to the sensitivity of your data and have written an anonymizing tool to handle this particular scenario.

Anonymizing Jira Data

The Jira inbuilt backup functionality will produce a ZIP file containing either 1 or 2 XML files, depending on the version that is being used. These files are a copy of the entire contents of Jira's database, encoded in XML, that can be used to restore an instance - we have further detail on this in our Automating Jira application backups documentation.

As of Jira 4.4, the backup functionality will produce a ZIP file that contains 2 XML files. These files will be activeobjects.xml and entities.xmlOnly entities.xml will need to be anonymized - please do not attempt to anonymize the activeobjects.xml. For versions prior to 4.4, only one XML file will be produced with the same naming convention as the ZIP it is compressed as (for example 1970-Jan-01– will expand to 1970-Jan-01--0001.xml).

  1. Ensure that the JAVA_HOME variable has been configured, as in our Setting JAVA_HOME documentation.
  2. Download the Jira Anonymizer.
  3. Create a temporary directory.
  4. Unzip the anonymizer in the temporary directory.
  5. Unzip the Jira backup ZIP file (for example in the temporary directory.
  6. Anonymize the backup file with the below commands:

    $ java -DentityExpansionLimit=2147480000 -DtotalEntitySizeLimit=2147480000 -Djdk.xml.totalEntitySizeLimit=2147480000 -Xmx2g -jar joost.jar <JIRA BACKUP>.xml anon.stx > <NAME OF ANONYMISED BACKUP>.xml

    For example, this would be anonymizing a Jira backup with the naming convention from Jira 4.4+:

    $ java -DentityExpansionLimit=2147480000 -DtotalEntitySizeLimit=2147480000 -Djdk.xml.totalEntitySizeLimit=2147480000 -Xmx2g -jar joost.jar entities.xml anon.stx > anon-entities.xml

    (warning) Depending on the size of the backup, additional memory may need to be allocated to the JVM. In order to do this, increase the value of the Xmx in increments of 128m.

    If the Jira Anonymizer fails because of unsupported XML characters, you can clean up the entities.xml file with Atlassian's XML cleanup utility. Once the file is cleaned up, run the Jira Anonymizer again.

  7. Compress the generated anonymized XML backup file (e.g: anon-entities.xml) and the activeobjects.xml(Jira 4.4.x + only) into a ZIP or tarball.
  8. Attach that ZIP or tarball onto the support issues as raised on
  9. The temporary directory can now be removed.
The screenshot below is a simple example of how it is run in the command prompt of Windows XP:

Windows command prompt.

Information about the Anonymizer

The anonymizer currently replaces the following text with x's:

  • Issue summary, environment, and description.
  • Comments, work logs, change logs.
  • Project descriptions.
  • Descriptions for most elements (notification schemes, permission schemes, resolutions).
  • Attachment file names.
  • "Unlimited text" custom fields.

Please check the anonymized backup, anon-backup.xml, to ensure it's clean enough for the needs of your organization before sending it to Atlassian.

Last modified on May 21, 2021

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