What Is Data Integrity and How Can It Be Protected?

It's easy to define what data integrity is, but it takes rigorous application of the right tools to make sure data stays accurate and safe.

After reading this, you'll understand:

  • Physical data integrity involves protecting stored information from things like natural disasters, power outages, and data corruption.

  • Logical integrity relates to maintaining data integrity by keeping it unchanged throughout its lifecycle.

  • Inaccurate data can hurt businesses, but data integrity also is essential to preserving accurate historical photos and accounts.

After reading this, you'll understand:

  • Physical data integrity involves protecting stored information from things like natural disasters, power outages, and data corruption.

  • Logical integrity relates to maintaining data integrity by keeping it unchanged throughout its lifecycle.

  • Inaccurate data can hurt businesses, but data integrity also is essential to preserving accurate historical photos and accounts.

Data integrity refers to the accuracy, consistency, and reliability of data throughout its lifecycle. It is an absolute necessity for reliable decision-making for businesses in today's digital age. While it's easy to define data integrity, it's difficult to ensure it.

Maintaining data integrity is not merely a best practice but a fundamental necessity. It ensures that the information businesses rely on for critical decisions remains trustworthy and free from errors, manipulation, or unauthorized access. Moreover, data integrity intersects closely with other vital areas such as data quality and data security. Without taking robust measures to uphold these standards, businesses risk facing financial losses, missed opportunities, and irreparable damage to their reputation.

Hedera is on the cutting edge of data integrity, using its decentralized ledger technology and Hedera Hashgraph to enhance data integrity. For one example, Starling Lab, a joint project between the USC Shoah Foundation and Stanford's Department of Electrical Engineering, uses Hedera's tools to ensure the integrity of digital media information.

In this article, we'll dive into:

  • The types of data integrity.

  • The issues that threaten it.

  • How distributed ledger technology (DLT) enhances data integrity for businesses to thrive in the digital age.

Types of data integrity

Preserving data integrity requires meticulous collection processes and robust storage protection mechanisms. There are two fundamental types of data integrity: physical integrity and logical integrity. Both are essential to maintaining data accuracy, consistency, and reliability throughout its lifecycle.

Physical integrity

Physical data integrity refers to the safety of physical facilities storing data. This involves protecting data from risks such as natural disasters or power outages. Failure to set up protection mechanisms for physical storage facilities or to adequately back up data poses a significant risk. It could lead to the permanent loss of valuable information.

Logical integrity

Logical integrity ensures that data remains consistent and unaltered throughout its lifecycle. This involves preventing unauthorized changes or misrepresentations as different parties interact with the data. Logical integrity can be compromised by human error, transfer errors, and malicious intent by individuals seeking to manipulate the data.

Challenges to data integrity

Ensuring data integrity involves facing various threats that can undermine the reliability and accuracy of data. By understanding these challenges, businesses can strengthen their data management strategies and safeguard against potential threats.

In this section, we explore different ways in which data integrity can be compromised, ranging from inadvertent human errors to deliberate malicious actions:

  • Human error. Data quality can be drastically damaged by the types of mistakes that individuals are prone to. Committing a transfer error, deleting rows in a spreadsheet, misunderstanding a report while entering data, and putting a decimal point in the wrong spot are just a few examples of how human error can compromise data integrity.

  • Formatting errors. As information is moved from one system to another, differences in formatting may lead to changes in the data items that affect data integrity.

  • Data breaches and cybersecurity threats. If unauthorized parties can access your data, they can change it without anyone knowing. This ranges from cybersecurity threats, like malware and hacking attempts, to disgruntled employees with proper access.

  • Hardware issues. If an organization relies entirely on physical hardware to store data, it runs the risk of the hardware failing and compromising integrity.

  • Data collection errors. Collecting complete data is one of the easiest ways an organization can ensure data integrity. Incomplete data samples can skew your analysis and may lead to bias.

How to maintain data integrity

Without reliable data, the foundation of decision-making crumbles, leading to potential financial losses and reputational damage. To uphold accuracy and reliability, businesses can adopt a series of data integrity best practices, each playing a crucial role in safeguarding data:

Input validation

One of the main methods for maintaining data integrity is input validation. This process involves verifying the accuracy, completeness, and consistency of data entered into a system. By implementing robust input validation mechanisms, businesses can mitigate the risk of erroneous or fraudulent data infiltrating their databases.

Data governance policies

Data governance policies establish guidelines and procedures for data management. These policies outline the responsibilities of stakeholders, define data standards, and spell out compliance with regulatory requirements. By enforcing strict data governance policies, businesses can foster a culture of accountability and transparency for data integrity.

Data backups and recovery

Data backups and recovery mechanisms are indispensable for safeguarding against data loss and corruption. Regularly backing up data ensures that even in the event of hardware failures, natural disasters, or cyberattacks, businesses can recover their data with minimal disruption. Additionally, implementing robust data recovery processes allows organizations to quickly restore data to its original state, preserving its integrity and reliability.

Protecting data integrity with DLTs

Data security and data integrity are closely related: security measures are the main line of defense to help prevent data from being compromised. Data security methods such as access controls and encryption can help prevent unauthorized access to systems and data, thereby protecting data integrity.

DLTs are well-suited to protecting data because of their encrypted, immutable nature. A distributed ledger technology (DLT) solution involves a database that's shared and duplicated across a network of computers in different locations. This makes DLTs an outstanding tool for ensuring data integrity and strengthening security.

In this section, we'll explore how DLTs are being used for data security and integrity.


Theom provides individuals and businesses with a scalable, low-cost way to verify data integrity. The Theom platform protects enterprise data, even if stored across different cloud providers and SaaS applications.

Theom uses the Hedera Consensus Service (HCS) to ensure that any action taken on a business's data is legitimate.


SAFE uses the Hedera network to log immutable healthcare customer data. It uses a data-stamping "Hashlog," developed by Acoer, to log an individual's health status in real time.

During the COVID pandemic, this technology was used for logging contact tracing, exposure notifications, vaccination status, and other essential, sensitive data.


Hala lets civilians share and store video and photo evidence of potential emerging conflicts. When an image is captured in the field using the Hala Systems App, it's added to centralized file storage in Amazon Web Services. At the same time, it's written to a private blockchain using the IBM Blockchain Platform and Hedera Consensus Service.

Hala's security platform illustrates the importance of data integrity. If this information is mishandled, misrepresented, or hacked, it could cost people their lives and allow possible humanitarian crises to go unexposed.

AVC Global

AVC Global created a blockchain-based platform called the Track and Trace Program to address threats to the pharmaceutical supply chain. Complex supply chain systems can help lead to substandard drug quality and drug counterfeiting. AVC Global uses DLT to validate and record transactions across pharmaceutical supply chains.

Each drug is given a GS1-compliant serial number, which is recorded and verified by Hyperledger and HCS. The serial number is then scanned at each stage of the journey, with each transaction being verified through a non-corruptible, dual notary system.


Acoer addresses drug overproduction and underproduction by tracking and logging pharmaceutical supply chain events from end to end. Acoer provides public data visualization tools, letting drug companies make informed production decisions.


Everyware uses IoT devices to track and record essential data relating to pharmaceuticals. For example, Everyware partnered with the United Kingdom’s National Health Service to track and log COVID-19 vaccine storage information. Since COVID-19 vaccines require colder temperatures than other vaccines, Everyware used IoT devices to ensure adequate storage temperatures.

This project uses the hashgraph consensus algorithm to log immutable records for essential healthcare data.


Neuron is creating a shared data platform for drone devices. Using ground-based sensors, Neuron records real-time flight events, ensuring pilots know when other drones are in the area. This visibility allows pilots to fly their drones without fearing a collision.

Neuron uses the Hedera network to keep its real-time data secure. Hedera's low fees make it an ideal solution due to the large volume of recorded real-time data.

Data integrity with Hedera

Businesses need to maintain data integrity, but it is essential in many areas. Hedera's work with Project Starling focuses on preserving the accurate presentation of history. Inaccurate data can lead to severe consequences for businesses and their customers. However, the value of preserving data integrity for historical photos and news accounts can't be measured.

DLTs are a viable solution for many of the challenges to preserving data integrity. These immutable ledgers offer companies a secure way to store data without fearing physical integrity issues. Additionally, data can be automatically recorded and logged in a decentralized manner, eliminating human error, invalid data, and storage erosion.

Many data security projects turn to the Hedera network for its secure ledger technology and low, predictable fees.