Data Tampering: What You Need To Know About It and How To Prevent It

Data tampering is seen around us every day; but what does it mean? How are companies preparing for this? Read more to learn how.

12 may 2022

The world might be ever-changing, but you know what shouldn’t change? Your data. 

The idea behind “changing data” falls into a category of data tampering, in which someone “deliberately modifying (destroying, manipulating, or editing) data through unauthorized channels.”  

Changing data can significantly impact individuals, companies, and industries as a whole. One of the common ways we see data tampering show itself in the world is through the deployment of ransomware. 

There are two predominant ways that we see ransomware used in the space:  

  • Encrypted and held hostage: This type of ransomware encrypts data and makes it inaccessible unless someone pays to access it. The best example of this is the Colonial Pipeline attack, where hackers encrypted supplier data for a large oil company on the eastern seaboard of the United States, effectively stopping oil shipping until the data was decrypted after the ransom payment was made. 

  • Blackmail: threatening to release some kind of personal data. We often see this in the news, mainly of local/state/federal politicians being held at digital gunpoint over their data. 

This blog will primarily focus on data tampering related to ransomware, why you should care, and how to prevent it. 

Data Tampering+Ransomware: What Is It and Why Should You Care 

One way to think about data is whether or not it is immutable vs. mutable. The Cambridge Dictionary describes immutability vs. mutability as the below: 

Immutability: Not changing or unable to be changed.
Mutability: The ability to change or the fact of being likely to change. 

Immutable data is unchangeable, commonly found in how information is stored on the blockchain, whether Bitcoin, Ethereum or any other protocol. On the flipside, mutable data is what most people engage with every day, for example the Dropbox file keep editing and saving to your computer each day falls into mutable data. 

Mutable data tends to be the most prone to data tampering strategies and techniques, given that it can be modified by someone else if they get access to your data, and then encrypted by a third party and left hostage to ransomware techniques. Beyond the Colonial Pipeline attack in 2021, we’ve seen this play out worldwide, from hospitals to schools. (this particularly nasty attack caused 5000 schools to be closed) More than half (61%) of health delivery organizations (medical clinics, hospitals, etc.) said they didn’t feel prepared for ransomware attacks, per a recent study/survey in 2021. This level of vulnerability to changeable data and lack of end-to-end encryption in the way they store their data presents a massive risk to healthcare data for millions of people worldwide. 

Data tampering/ransomware attacks follow a typical template/flow. 

  1. Identify the target system. They generally target a single database infrastructure that one with potential weaknesses. Typically, data stored in changeable locations tend to be the best fit. 

  2. Persistently try to gain more information about the target organization and its weak links.

  3. Use the information gained to target specific attack areas in the database. 

  4. A breach occurs: hackers enter the system and retrieve and encrypt as much data as possible. 

  5. Ransom money: hackers will ask for a hefty ransom to return the undamaged data.

How to prevent data tampering attacks with blockchain technology 

The short answer to protecting data from tampering attacks is simply answered: utilize decentralized storage via the blockchain so that your data is immutable and unchangeable. This prevents our first type of ransomware, where hackers encrypt and “lock” the data away from you. Utilizing blockchain technology allows for an end-to-end encrypted experience, blocking hackers from penetrating your systems. Innovations in decentralized storage enable the data to be encrypted into small parts, further encrypt those small parts and then distribute them across the world. The data then becomes only accessible to its owner and is unchangeable

How do I get started? 

SlikSafe is an excellent solution for decentralized storage, collaboration, and security. It’s secure, affordable, and fast for small, medium, and large businesses. When you hold the keys to your data via SlikSafe, your data is ransomware-proof from being changed and encrypted. 

Get started today with a free account to secure your data with a trusted platform. 

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