Database integrity is key to running a successful business. Students on our Pearson BTEC Level 5 HND in Computing and Systems Management will have the opportunity to study the topic in detail in the Database Design module.

Today we look at a few key details to keep in mind when thinking about database integrity, as well as some of the challenges modern database developers may encounter.

So what is database integrity?

Picture, if you will, an e-commerce site. Behind the beautiful facade, there are systems in place keeping track of all the technical goings-on. There are stock, sales and customers. Each of these sections may be broken down into further segments: UK customers and EU customers, for example. Database integrity looks at how accurate and consistent this information is and if the information is being accurately communicated across databases.

Mr Grey buys a pair of shoes; he has two addresses: work and home. The communication between databases in our example is not accurate and causes the sales database to register two sales – one for home and one for work, although payment has only been taken for one. The stock database registers two pairs sold, but only one has been paid for and sent. Shoes begin to pile up, whilst database stock figures decrease at double speed.

How do you stop integrity issues from occurring? 

Database integrity is extremely important to the database design process. Careful planning in the logical design stage should help make a clean, efficient system that communicates in a coherent way. Database design and database integrity are important logistical foundations of many businesses and should be given plenty of attention. Once a database design has been completed, error checking and validation processes should be put in place to test, test and test again.

Future Risks

Database integrity can be challenged by various malicious software. Ransomware, for example, can encrypt a database and disrupt a company’s payment and/or stock management system. For a company with large quantities of stock, encryption of any database could be an extremely costly issue. A database integrity attack could also target transactional databases – a serious problem if a company has stored customer payment details.

Computer Weekly mentions the three keys ways of preventing these potential database integrity attacks: resilience, reduction and recovery.

Resilience

When designing the database, security measures should be put in place and tested. If you’re an online retailer, it is vitally important that security measures are at a high standard. Buyer confidence takes time to earn and can be lost in a matter of minutes.

Reduction 

Detecting a breach of data integrity early is key to saving time and money. Having systems in place to detect drastic changes to a database is a good place to begin. Needless to say, a recent backup of data is essential.

Recovery 

If detected early, companies will be able to bring their data back into alignment through their backup.

If you’re considering a career in computing and systems development, get in touch with one of our course advisors today and find out if our Pearson BTEC Level 5 HND in Computing and Systems Management can help you on your path to employment.

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