September 07, 2021
Apart from data security, companies are now learning the significance of investing in data integrity. This concept goes beyond ensuring that your data is safe – in fact, strong data integrity practices are required by law, as errors or mistakes can lead to significant fines for your company. Privacy laws and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) now require firms to go beyond data security and ensure the accuracy of their data. The following sections deeply explore the importance of data integrity and its key elements so you can preserve your company’s integrity, reputation, and avoid all setbacks.
Data integrity refers to several data characteristics, including accuracy, consistency, and completeness. It is also related to regulatory compliance and data security and is ensured through various processes, standards, and well-established rules.
In many cases, data integrity relates to data quality, as one of the overarching goals of data integrity is to ensure data quality. When data integrity is guaranteed, it means that your company’s database is complete, accurate, and fully reliable. This does not only help you access error-free data to improve your operations but also makes sure you avoid regulatory non-compliance that can result in setbacks and fines.
As a result, data integrity is not only important from a legal perspective. Its consequences are far-reaching, improving your relationship with your customers, maintaining a positive brand image, and helps to keep your company resilient to external attacks.
Data integrity is of different types – they all consist of a series of methods and processes that ensure data integrity in relational and hierarchical databases.
Physical data integrity refers to protecting the data as you store and access it when needed. For instance, it relates to your ability to maintain the database functions when the electricity goes out in case of a natural disaster or if a hacker were to compromise the database.
Keeping accurate data at this stage is threatened by storage erosion, human error, and others. This is where DaaS, or data as a service, can bring numerous benefits and cut costs while ensuring data security.
Logical integrity ensures that data remain unchanged in your database. It also aims to protect the information against human mistakes or errors while keeping hackers at bay. There are four types of logical integrity:
Depending on your company, data integrity processes can be extremely varied. For instance, let’s assume that you have a software company that stores all the information related to your current customers (known as “parent” records) and the products they use (known as “child” records).
Data integrity can be used to ensure that all customers are assigned one or more products. Also, the process may ensure that no customer can be deleted as long as they own any child records (i.e., they are currently using one or more products or services).
Data integrity helps to avoid human errors, such as deleting current customers by mistake. Suppose the company allows each customer to access only one product or service at a time. In that case, data integrity mechanisms can be employed to ensure that the company’s data reflects that no customer is associated with two or more products. Based on this, your data is more accurate, so you can better target your customers and create successful marketing campaigns or providing relevant promotions to the right clients.
There are several crucial metrics you could identify to assess the current situation of your data in your systems. This will also tell you more about the quality and usefulness of your databases. Some of them include:
It is important to mention that data integrity is not interchangeable with data quality. Rather it is a subset of data quality. For example, data integrity makes sure that there are no duplicate values in your dataset. This improves the quality of your data.
However, having no duplicates does not guarantee that your information is correct – i.e., in the example above, a customer may be incorrectly associated with a product they don’t use. However, appropriate data integrity helps you avoid mistakes and errors, which makes it a subset of data quality.
Another related but different concept is data security. Data security refers to protecting your information against unauthorized use, corruption, or access. Data security is crucial to ensure data integrity. In simple terms, data security can be used to maintain data integrity.
For businesses, data integrity is vital to ensure that all the decision-making and business processes are accurate and efficient. Many data security programs include data integrity processes, such as database integrity constraints, backup, and others.
Data integrity must be maintained in order to ensure the performance and stability of your company. For instance, if you maintain your data integrity, you can easily recover or search past information, you can trace data to its origins when needed.
More importantly, your company’s databases most likely include both structured and unstructured data. This means that your data has to go through other transformations and processes to become practical to facilitate decision-making properly. As a result, data integrity maintenance is a must for enterprises. It allows you to base your decisions on sound, accurate information and track said information to its origin when required, among others.
There are several ways data can be compromised, which is why data integrity maintenance is absolutely critical. Some of the main ways to compromise data include human errors, which is perhaps the most common phenomenon. For instance, when humans insert incorrect data, delete it by mistake, or duplicate it, data integrity is compromised, affecting your data quality.
Errors can also happen during transfers. For instance, lack of completeness and duplicate errors can occur if you need to transfer data from one department to another. Additionally, manual transfer of data from one department to another increases the risk of compromising data accuracy.
Next, data storage nowadays makes use of software and hardware (computers). These may be prone to malware, spyware, or viruses that can corrupt, delete or steal the data. Additionally, computer and server crashes can also occur, leading to massive failures that could alter or corrupt your data.
There are several data integrity practices that help you maintain it, including:
Data integrity is not an easy one-time process. Instead, it is an ongoing procedure that requires regular commitment to ensure that your company’s information is safe and accurate. Apart from regulatory compliance, data integrity has numerous other benefits for your company. For instance, it allows you to have access to reliable data to make business decisions.
Additionally, data integrity means that you have trustworthy datasets, and you can recover or trace information back to its origins when needed. There are so many risks and factors that can easily alter or corrupt your data, so it is important to ensure that you maintain data integrity via strong data security systems to ensure data quality.
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