Data Security vs. Data Integrity

Data Security vs. Data Integrity: Know the Difference

We all understand the need to keep data secure from spies and hackers, but that’s not the only risk to data. Businesses also need to maintain data integrity, meaning the information isn’t lost or corrupted. The two concepts are both part of an effective data management program and must comply with some privacy laws. This article will go over data security vs. data integrity.


Data security and data integrity are potentially confusing concepts as they aren’t technically either alternatives or measures working in partnership. Data integrity is a desired outcome, while data security is a technique that can help achieve data integrity, as well as achieving other outcomes such as privacy.

Data Integrity

In simple terms, data integrity is the state in which data is complete, unaltered, and accessible. This covers two related factors. One is that the data is complete and accurate. The other is that the structure of the data remains intact and unchanged, meaning you can continue to access and use it. Data integrity can be compromised by technical errors such as accidentally altering or deleting files and physical errors such as a hard drive being damaged.

Data Security

Data security is the concept of preventing data from being accessed, altered, disclosed, or damaged without authorization. The term also covers the methods used to do this. These include:

  • physical measures (e.g., keeping servers in locked rooms);
  • organizational measures (e.g., only allowing high-level staff access to equipment); and
  • technical measures (e.g., encrypting data or requiring a password to access it.)

Other Methods Of Achieving Integrity

Regular back-ups are the most common method of achieving data integrity: they help reduce the risk of integrity being compromised by damaged data. Redundancy is a similar concept: keeping multiple copies of data, often in different physical locations. With large files and databases, techniques such as checksums help quickly expose even small changes to data that might otherwise go unmissed.

Other Goals Of Data Security

As well as helping maintain data integrity, data security aims to protect privacy. This includes business privacy, for example, protecting trade secrets and confidential agreements, often as a contractual requirement. It also includes personal data privacy, such as protecting customer records that contain sensitive information that could be abused for identity theft.

Data Laws

Several important data laws say that you must protect both security and integrity if you handle people’s personal data. For example, Europe’s GDPR (which can apply to companies worldwide processing data in Europe or about Europeans) requires security measures to prevent unauthorized processing and accidental loss or damage to data. Meanwhile, California’s CCPA means you must protect against unauthorized alteration or deleting personal data.

If you want practical help and advice for maintaining data security and data integrity, we can help. Contact us today, and we’ll talk through your options.

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