In this era where misinformation spreads faster and more widely than ever before, is your company’s data protected? Is it reliable? Are you sure? And if not, how can you ensure it is?
In our article on the four key goals of information security, we saw that protecting your data requires strategies and actions that will guarantee its availability, integrity, confidentiality and traceability. Today, we’re discussing the quality and reliability of your corporate data. What is integrity all about?
Integrity = Confidence
Data integrity is key to maintaining confidence in your IT systems and ensuring accuracy and, above all, reliability in the systems you use to make decisions. It concerns all aspects of your business, from your finances to your clients to your employees.
If your company’s data integrity is compromised, it can severely impact your operations and risk non-compliance with regulations. Altered data can also lead you to make incorrect decisions, because they’re based on information that is unreliable or even false. This can result in errors in planning, resource management, strategic decision-making and more.
And if your clients are concerned about your ability to manage and protect their personal and financial information, they may simply decide to choose a different supplier.
You’ve surely noticed that in recent years, incidents involving data theft or corruption have become increasingly publicized in the media. Such public exposure generates bad publicity and can damage a company’s image and reputation.
A negative perception can linger in the minds of clients and business partners for a long time. It’s very difficult and costly to restore a damaged reputation.
Depending on your business sector and existing legislation, a data integrity violation can result in significant legal and regulatory penalties. Just think of Quebec’s Law 25, which imposes severe fines and penalties for companies that do not adequately protect their clients’ data.
Prevention reigns supreme
As a manager, you have an obligation to ensure your company’s data is accurate, consistent and complete throughout its life cycle. It is critical that you implement robust security measures to prevent data integrity violations and set up monitoring and procedures to react quickly in the event of a breach.
Basic concepts to guarantee a company’s data integrity
In terms of protecting data integrity, managing identities and access is essential. It’s a centralized approach to manage user identification, authentication, authorization and rights. The first goal is to ensure user compliance; it’s your first line of defence to protect your data integrity.
Data management specialists also use techniques and algorithms to detect errors and corruption. The objective of checking data is to confirm its accuracy, integrity and quality. This process allows you to validate the data based on predefined criteria, identify any inconsistencies and correct the errors. You will therefore ensure that your information is reliable and usable.
More that ever, using encryption techniques to protect data from unauthorized modification is a necessity. While its main function is to ensure the data’s confidentiality, encryption directly impacts data integrity by adding a layer of opacity. A range of encryption tools are available, adapted to different needs and uses.
These days, it’s easy to keep track of any changes made to the data, and to find out which users are responsible for any modifications, allowing you to monitor activities and identify any errors or breaches. This traceability is essential for compliance as well as to investigate breaches and any unauthorized access. Data management systems, audit and logging tools, and version control are also some of the resources at your disposal. We’ll discuss this specific aspect of data protection in another article soon.
You can never be 100% secure
Even with the best tools, perfectly followed processes and rigorous management, you’ll never have a total guarantee of protection. Technologies evolve rapidly and even the most secure systems can have unknown vulnerabilities—and you can be sure that pirates and hackers will find them. Human error also remains the most common sources of breaches.
To protect yourself from unforeseeable issues, data redundancy is your final option. Save your data often and, above all, perform recovery tests regularly, because even these can fail. And remember that like all other high availability solutions, saving is a remedial action, not a preventive one.
If you set up a backup data centre to ensure business continuity in the event of an attack that makes your key infrastructure inoperative, you’ll still need to find the security breach and fix it. If you don’t do so, you’ll instantly expose your backup site to a new attack. To illustrate this as an analogy, you must understand why you fell and do what’s necessary to prevent the situation from repeating. And then you get back on your feet.
Be sure to consult an expert in data security and management for specific recommendations for your situation. There are many available solutions, and they’re often complex. An expert will be able to help you find the right level of protection for your business.
Our series of articles will continue soon with information security and data privacy, a topic that causes real headaches for managers. We’ll discuss what it consists of as well as your obligations and how to best manage user privacy.