Why data integrity is important

The global economy is increasingly driven by data. Data can be used to create models, optimize processes and make predictions. However, with these new possibilities, the dependency on data and its quality is becoming ever greater.

Thus also data integrity becomes more and more important. It ensures consistency, accuracy, and trustworthiness of data throughout its lifecycle.

Data integrity includes measures designed to ensure that sensitive data cannot be removed or altered unless explicitly intended by authorized persons.

There are two fundamental ways to ensure data integrity:

  • Measures to prevent the modification of data in advance
  • Measures to detect and reverse the change of data in the downstream process.

How to prevent the modification of data

There are some very good instructions on how to take action to prevent the modification of data in advance. Among other things, the following topics play an important role:

  • Educating employees
  • Limiting physical access to servers
  • Monitoring meta data
  • Encryption
  • Audits

Further readings:

How to reverse unauthorized data changes

Detection and reversal of data changes in the downstream process requires several steps:

  1. Take action to automatically back up important data on a regular basis.
  2. Take action to reliably detect that data has been altered by unauthorized persons.
  3. Implemention of a process to reverse the unauthorized changes.

For automated backups there are already some good procedures and tools available. And a process to reverse unauthorized changes must be adapted to each individual company.

The current solutions for reliably detecting changes in data are usually based on a cryptographic fingerprint (hash) of the underlying data.

If the data changes, its fingerprint also changes. If the old fingerprint is then compared with the new fingerprint and changes can be detected, the underlying data has also been changed. With this procedure, it is necessary that the fingerprints are stored immutable for internal employees and external persons.

The technology that is currently best suited for this is blockchain technology. OriginStamp allows a cryptographic fingerprint of a data set to be written into a blockchain. This gives the underlying data set a tamper-proof time stamp and any changes to this data set in the future will be immediately detectable.

Blockchain technology is a key technology when it comes to data integrity. In the end, however, it all comes down to a healthy mix of measures to prevent the modification of data and measures to detect and reverse unauthorized changes of data.