The Importance of Data Integrity for Your Business

Every day, organizations make decisions based on real-time data. And data integrity is essential to analyzing reliable and trustworthy information. Making data-driven business decisions based on corrupt data can have serious ramifications for your company’s future. It can lead to errors, missed opportunities and even loss of profits.

What is Data Integrity?

Data integrity is the maintenance and the assurance of the accuracy and consistency of data over its entire life-cycle. It’s a critical aspect to the design, implementation and usage of any system which stores, processes, or retrieves data. [Source: Wikipedia].

In essence, it is the characteristic of information to remain complete, consistent and reliable during its life cycle.

Data Integrity Threats

Data can be transferred to other systems, modified and updated multiple times throughout its existence. The problem arises when unexpected changes to data occur.

Unintentional changes or the deletion of parts of data may render the data useless. It is no longer accurate and reliable, as it is different from its original form.

Common threats to the integrity of your business data include:

  • Human error – accidental alteration or deletion
  • Unintended transfer errors
  • Compromised hardware
  • Cyber attacks
  • Security errors
  • Malware

Tips to Minimize Data Integrity Risk

While there is no perfect solution, the following controls can be put in place to preserve data integrity and minimize risk:

  1. Protect Your Documents
    You can protect documents by adding restrictions to the files. Vendors such as Adobe and Microsoft have the ability to restrict actions that can be taken on documents – from read-only to allowing only certain changes. You can also password-protect your documents and PDFs.
  2. Integrate Your Data Systems
    When you have multiple departments entering data into multiple disconnected systems, you will more than likely end up with data that’s inconsistent and unreliable. A connected CRM and ERP system helps to eliminate this problem. Commercient SYNC, the #1 data integration platform for sales, can help you minimize risk to the integrity of your business data by securely integrating your ERP data with your CRM data. You will no longer need to manually transfer data between systems, reducing the risk of human error.
  3. Introduce Access Controls
    Personnel without official access and with malicious intent can do serious harm to data. Implementing a least privilege model, where only users who need access to data get access, is a very common form of access control.
  4. Implement Backup and Recovery Procedures
    Regular data backups are critical, and go a long way in maintaining data integrity and preventing valuable data loss. In the event of a breach, data that is regularly backed up can be recovered in its original form.
  5. Leverage Audit Trails
    A computer-generated, time-stamped audit trail records the identity, date and time of data entries, changes and deletions. In the event that data is compromised, audit trails provide the breadcrumbs that lead to the source of the problem.
  6. Passwords
    Use passwords to prevent unauthorized access to all storage devices where data is kept. Don’t store your passwords on your computer or write them down on post-it notes.
  7. Ensure Security
    Cyber security practices such as file encryption can also contribute to minimizing data integrity risk. It’s also recommended to use anti-malware software to block malicious attacks and files from reaching your computer and modifying your data.

The effects of corrupted data can have serious consequences for any business. It is therefore absolutely necessary to implement measures to protect the integrity of your data at all costs.

To find out how Commercient SYNC can help you minimize data integrity risk by securely integrating your sales and marketing systems, please contact us today!

About the Author

Anna Kinnear is a Sage Financials Consultant at Edgeware, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting Science from the University of South Africa. She has always had a passion for reading and writing.