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Improving the Design and Implementation of Object-Oriented Code: The Ongoing Quest for Data Integrity

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Matt Weisfeld, author of The Object-Oriented Thought Process, Fourth Edition, travels through time to show the evolution of accessor methods to improve data security and integrity in both structured programming and object-oriented programming. Along the way, we learn about the mechanisms in place today to help produce robust and secure code.
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Major data breaches are making headlines all too frequently these days. While many of these intrusions are direct assaults on databases, programmers easily forget that the quest for data integrity and security begins with simple decisions made during the design and implementation of code. Not surprisingly, many of these decisions pertain to data-access rights.

Attempting to control access to data is nothing new. In the early days of programming, applications were designed for use by a limited number of people (sometimes even just a single person). Thus, very few individuals could inspect or change data, and the number of those who even knew that the data existed was very limited.

As information technology made its way into every aspect of the business world, the situation changed dramatically. Organizations now store massive amounts of sensitive personal data, which has created security concerns for everyone involved in these transactions. Today, these issues are even more complex, because individuals can access data (sometimes maliciously) over the Internet and other networks by using mobile devices, and so on.

Measures have been taken to combat these data intrusions, but programmers need to understand the mechanisms that are in place to create robust code, thus keeping the data safe and secure. Many of these measures can be traced to the early years of programming. However, the quest for data security and integrity has evolved over the years to include structured programming as well as object-oriented programming (OOP).

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