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Ensuring Long-Term Data Integrity

It is crucial for enterprises to maintain the integrity of electronic data or records over its long lifecycle or retention period. Despite the importance to protect your data integrity, there is no general consensus about its definition. Let’s have a look at different definitions and how to handle the various challenges. The term data integrity has a broad scope in enterprise IT landscape and may have different interpretations depending on the specific context in which the term is used.


Data Integrity in Pharmaceutical & Life Science

Definition of the FDA (21 CFR Part 11, Electronic Records):

Data integrity refers to the completeness, consistency, and accuracy of data. Complete, consistent, and accurate data should be attributable, legible, contemporaneously recorded, original or a true copy, and accurate (ALCOA).


Definition of the UK Gov. Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency:

The extent to which all data are complete, consistent and accurate throughout the data lifecycle. Data integrity arrangements must ensure that the accuracy, completeness, content and meaning of data is retained throughout the data lifecycle.

Data Integrity in Healthcare

Definition of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HIPAA):

Integrity means the property that data or information have not been altered or destroyed in an unauthorized manner.

Data Integrity in Financial Services

Definition of Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI DSS):

Things that disrupt file integrity are unauthorized modifications, which include changes, additions, and deletion. The PCI Security Standards Council uses the term ‘file integrity’ instead of data integrity. The definition of file integrity can be found inexplicitly in the definition of “file integrity monitoring,” which is “technique or technology under which certain files or logs are monitored to detect if they are modified.” Moreover, PCI also specifies that unauthorized modification that can disrupt file integrity includes changes, additions, and deletions.


Although there are different definitions by different governance bodies, the challenge remains the same: ensuring long-term data integrity while satisfying all different definitions of the term.


Ensuring Long-Term Data Integrity

Maintaining data integrity is a complex task and many businesses often encounter problems or obstacles along the way. Hardware-based storage or archive systems, due to malfunctions, old media failure or chemical/electromagnetic processes, can trigger “silent data corruption” which will damage the data.


Apart from having effective archiving strategies, organizations also need to implement the right solution which can help them maintain the integrity of their important data for a long term regardless of where their data are or will be stored.


iTernity solutions offer different functionalities to secure data integrity during long-term retention periods. Using secure SHA hashes for our Content-Storage-Containers as well as features like data encryption, replication and data self-healing protect the completeness, consistency and accuracy of your archive data. iTernity iCAS is purposely built to maintain the integrity of archive data throughout their mandated retention periods no matter where they are stored.

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