Data Integrity

Cryptographic protocols protect data from tampering by employing secure fingerprints and digital signatures that can detect changes in data integrity.

Secure fingerprints function by appending a checksum to data that is generated and verified with the secret key. The secret key is known only to those who are authorized. An example of secure fingerprints is Hash-based Message Authentication Code (HMAC), which maintains packet integrity and the authenticity of the data protected.

Digital signatures use a related cryptography method that digitally signs the packet data. A signer creates the signature using a key that is unique and known only to the original signer. Recipients of the message can check the signature by using the signature verification key. The cryptography inherent in digital signatures guarantees accuracy and authenticity because the originator signed it. Financial businesses rely on digital signatures to electronically sign documents and also to prove that the transactions did in fact occur.

Here are some data integrity guidelines to keep in mind:

■ Analyze the need for transmission integrity.

■ Factor in performance, but use the strongest cryptography.

■ Always use well-known cryptographic algorithms.

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