Immutability is the cornerstone of a safe enterprise

Immutability is the cornerstone of a safe enterprise

By Martin Creighan, Vice President for Asia Pacific at Commvault


Immutability, in the context of data and information technology, refers to the property of data or systems that cannot be changed once they are created. This concept plays a critical role in ensuring cyber safety in Australian enterprises. In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, where threats to data security and privacy are ever-present, immutability provides a strong foundation for safeguarding sensitive information and maintaining the integrity of critical systems. With recent high-profile attacks throwing the handling and storage of that information very much into the spotlight, the consequences of a vulnerable data governance plan are stark.

Immutability is essential for ensuring the integrity and trustworthiness of data in Australian enterprises. In sectors such as finance, healthcare, and government, where data accuracy and reliability are paramount, any unauthorised changes to data can have severe consequences. By implementing immutable data structures and storage solutions, organisations can create an indisputable record of data, making it extremely difficult for malicious actors to manipulate or tamper with information. This not only ensures the authenticity of data but also enhances the overall trust that stakeholders place in the organisation. As witnessed recently when Latitude Financial announced a $98 million loss following the fallout of a breach, that stakeholder trust is critical and reputational damage from a loss of trust can be severe.

Cyberattacks are a constant threat to Australian enterprises. With the rise of sophisticated hacking techniques and nation-state actors targeting sensitive data, immutability provides a crucial layer of defence. Immutable systems and data storage methods make it significantly harder for attackers to alter or delete critical data. Even if an intrusion is successful therefore, the attacker’s ability to cover their tracks or manipulate the system is limited, as any changes leave a clear trail. This not only helps in detecting and responding to cyber threats but also acts as a deterrent, dissuading potential attackers from targeting the organisation in the first place.

Furthermore, Australian enterprises, like those in many other countries, are subject to strict data protection and privacy regulations, such as the Privacy Act, the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme, and industry-specific regulations like the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s (APRA) standards for financial institutions. Immutability is often a prerequisite for compliance with these regulations. Immutable data storage and audit trails help organisations demonstrate their commitment to data security and privacy compliance, reducing the risk of legal repercussions and financial penalties.

In the unfortunate event of a security breach actually occurring, incident response and forensics become crucial for identifying the extent of the breach, understanding the attack vector, and taking appropriate measures to mitigate further damage. Immutability plays a pivotal role in incident response by preserving a chronological record of all system and data activities. This information is invaluable for digital forensics experts and security teams to trace the origins of an attack, identify vulnerabilities, and develop strategies to prevent future incidents.

Blockchain technology, which relies heavily on immutability, has gained significant attention in recent years. It has applications beyond cryptocurrencies, particularly in industries like supply chain management, healthcare, and finance. In Australia, blockchain is being explored as a means of improving transparency and trust in various sectors. Immutability is at the core of blockchain’s security model, ensuring that once data is recorded on a blockchain, it cannot be altered or deleted. This feature has the potential to revolutionise the way Australian enterprises handle transactions, data sharing, and verification.

Immutability will also have an impact on an organisation’s intellectual property, with many Australian enterprises heavily reliant on things like patents, trade secrets, and proprietary algorithms. Immutability is vital for protecting these assets from theft or unauthorised access. By maintaining immutable records of intellectual property, organisations can prove ownership and the timing of creation, which can be critical in legal disputes or when seeking patents.

Auditing is an essential component of cybersecurity and regulatory compliance. Immutability ensures that all changes to data and systems are recorded and timestamped, allowing for more robust auditing capabilities. Australian enterprises can use immutable logs and records to track who accessed what data, when, and for what purpose. This level of transparency not only helps in preventing insider threats but also in building a culture of accountability within the organisation.

In conclusion, immutability is not just a concept but a critical strategy for ensuring cyber safety in Australian enterprises – and should be a central part of any data governance and security mission. By implementing immutable data storage and system solutions, organisations can enhance data integrity, protect against cyber threats, comply with regulatory requirements, and strengthen their overall security posture.

In an era where data breaches and cyberattacks are prevalent, immutability stands as a fundamental principle for safeguarding sensitive information and maintaining the trust of stakeholders. Australian enterprises should continue to invest in and prioritise immutability as a cornerstone of their cybersecurity strategies.