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File integrity monitoring refers to a process for making sure that files have integrity; in other words, that they have not been damaged nor manipulated over a certain time period. File integrity monitoring tools are generally utilities for internal processes that check current file integrity against a predetermined baseline.
In order to compare files for integrity, these tools typically use a 'checksum.’
The checksum can also be called a hash sum, where 'hashing’ refers to a procedure that changes a text file or long text string into a consolidated, searchable value.
In a way, file integrity monitoring can be like various security processes that use hashing. The checksum is a reduce data set that can show a tool or utility whether a file has been changed in some way. By using these reduced data sets, which can be thought of as 'digital signatures,’ various applications and monitoring systems can work on a more effective basis, without having to comb through the entire file to look for errors or manipulation.
Today, some companies offer cloud-based file integrity monitoring and other kinds of file integrity monitoring services that utilize algorithms and proprietary technology. These may be included in a package for security and data backup, or in specific stand-alone processes for identifying file and system changes.