How to Ensure Data Integrity in an Organization


Organizations are constantly creating and gathering a lot of data that they may encounter issues when it comes to storing and managing the data. Data integrity should be an organization’s number one concern at every stage of the data lifecycle. Data integrity ensures that the data within an organization has not been altered or compromised and that the data is accurate. It is the process of ensuring the accuracy and validity of the data.

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Data is an important and valuable asset in an organization and can negatively impact an organization if the information is altered or compromised, which is why it is important to make sure that organizations do their best to keep it secure. Hence why ensuring data integrity is essential, and in order to understand its importance, we must first understand what data integrity is, why it is important, and how to ensure data integrity. 

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Data Integrity?
  2. Data Integrity vs. Data Security 
  3. Why is It Important to Ensure Data Integrity?
  4. Common Data Integrity Threats
  5. How to Preserve and Ensure Data Integrity
  6. Final Thoughts: Data Integrity

What is Data Integrity?

Data integrity should be an organization’s number one concern at every stage of the data lifecycle. Data integrity ensures that the data within an organization has not been altered or compromised and that the data is accurate. It is the process of ensuring the accuracy and validity of the data. Data integrity is split into two categories: physical and logical

Physical data integrity refers to data accuracy and the completeness of the physical file. Physical data integrity can be compromised through natural disasters (i.e., floods) or through a cyberattack on a database, while logical data integrity refers to the data’s accuracy.

How Do You Know When Your Data Has Integrity?

In order to tell if your data has integrity, you should keep an eye out for the following features:

  • Traceability: make sure that your data is accurate and traceable
  • Reliability: having data that is accurate and unaltered will help an organization be successful 
  • Availability: your data should be available and ready to access when needed 
  • Transparency: your data clearly explains what the data is about, who created and stored and when it was created and stored 

Data Integrity vs. Data Security

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Data integrity and data security are two terms that play an important role when it comes to the data in an organization. Data integrity focuses on keeping your data intact and accurate, while data security refers to protecting the data against unauthorized access. Data security is necessary to maintain data integrity. 

Why is it Important to Ensure Data Integrity?

Ensuring data integrity is essential in an organization because it ensures traceability, searchability, recoverability, and connectivity. It guarantees that you can trace your data back to its original source. When an organization has accurate and effective data, its performance and stability will increase. 

Note: In order to keep your data safe from malicious actors, you must first ensure that users within your organization know how to handle data properly. 

Common Data Integrity Threats

Data integrity can be compromised in a variety of ways through human errors or through hackers. Here is a list of common data integrity threats:

  • Human error: unintentional human error
  • Transfer errors: data may not always be transferred to another device properly, therefore, causing it to be compromised
  • Malware and viruses: data that gets deleted, lost, or altered by malware and viruses has an impact on data integrity
  • Compromised hardware: this has a large impact on physical data integrity (i.e., unexpected computer crashes)
  • Cyberattacks: when unauthorized parties (i.e., hackers) get access to data, the data integrity has been compromised
  • Misconfiguration or security issues: hackers can exploit vulnerabilities found in your systems and then compromise your data integrity 

How to Preserve and Ensure Data Integrity

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It is vital that security teams within an organization ensure data integrity as it is a valuable asset.  Data integrity is maintained by a collection of standards, policies, and rules. With that being said, here is what can be done to ensure data integrity: 

  • Update user permissions. Only give users access to the data that they need and not to all data in the organization 
  • Access controls. Organizations should consider implementing a least privilege model by only giving access to those users who need it
  • Log changes of data. Whenever any data is added, deleted, modified, and updated, your team should have a record of such events; in any case, where data has been compromised, it will save your team time to find the origin of the compromise
  • Perform regular backups. It is crucial that you backup your data on a regular basis in the event of a cyberattack or outage 
  • Validate and verify input data. Ensure that the data entered is accurate; by implementing input validation you can be sure that sensitive data will never be incorrectly categorized or stored
  • Keep an audit trail. This will be beneficial when a data breach occurs to help track the source and to help ensure data integrity
  • Encrypt your data. This is an effective measure to protect your data in an organization

Final Thoughts: Ensuring Data Integrity

Ensuring data integrity is a big concern in today’s society. Organizations are constantly creating and gathering a lot of data that they may encounter issues when it comes to storing and managing the data. The chances that cyberattacks will occur have increased therefore making them more apparent. Hopefully, after reading this article, you have a better understanding of what can be done to ensure data integrity. Just remember that understanding how to ensure data integrity is crucial in an organization.

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