Immutable Storage

What is immutable storage and why should you use it?

This article explains the concept of immutable storage and why businesses need it. We'll also examine some drawbacks to consider.

The importance of data integrity to a modern business cannot be overstated. Data breaches, accidental deletions, and compliance issues mean robust storage solutions are needed, particularly in highly regulated sectors.

That’s where immutable storage comes in. Immutable literally means “not able to change or be changed”. This is why immutable storage is increasingly an essential element of an organisation’s data strategy - knowing the data you store won't change or is immune to malicious falsification means you can be confident about data protection, compliance management and security. 


What is meant by immutable storage?

Immutable storage refers to a data retention system in which stored data and information cannot be modified, deleted, or altered after it is written. This fundamental “unalterable” characteristic distinguishes it from mutable storage, where data can be changed or deleted at any time. This distinction underlies immutable storage's unique advantage, particularly when a business deals with sensitive business data. 




Something that is immutable will never change or cannot be changed.

A key element of immutable storage is ensuring that you have a backup. Backups should be stored separately from the original copies. This ensures that even if the primary data is compromised, the backup remains intact, providing an extra layer of protection against data loss and corruption. 

Why do businesses need immutable storage?

Businesses need immutable storage to address the critical issues and risks associated with compliance, data protection, audit and trust. 

Compliance with legal and regulatory requirements

Many industries, such as finance, healthcare, and legal, are subject to strict regulations regarding data retention and integrity. Immutable storage ensures that once data is written, it cannot be altered or deleted, helping businesses comply with laws like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, GDPR, HIPAA, and others that require certain types of data to be retained and protected from tampering.

Data integrity and assurance

Immutable storage protects you against accidental or malicious data alteration - whether that’s by external attackers or employees. This is crucial for maintaining the accuracy and reliability of data, especially in areas where data integrity is paramount, such as financial transactions, medical records, or legal documents.

Enhanced data security

Immutable storage protects data from being altered or deleted by unauthorised users, including cybercriminals. Once data is stored and backed up using a distributed, blockchain-based tool like LogLocker, it cannot be changed, making it an effective tool against ransomware and other malicious attacks that rely on manipulating or encrypting data.

Audit and forensic analysis

Immutable records provide a reliable and unalterable history of data, which is essential for audit trails and forensic analysis. This can be critical in legal disputes, compliance audits, or investigations of security incidents, where it’s important you have an indisputable record of events and data access.

Maintaining customer trust

By using immutable storage, your business can demonstrate its commitment to data security and integrity. This can enhance your reputation and build customer trust, especially in sectors where sensitive information is routinely handled.

How does immutable storage work?

Immutable storage's non-modifiable nature is achieved through many techniques, notably Write-Once-Read-Many (WORM) technology.

WORM technology allows data to be written only once and subsequently read, ensuring no alterations can be made. In addition to WORM technology, encryption, versioning, and access controls are employed to further enhance data security.

When you configure immutable cloud storage, it activates an object lock, essentially starting a metaphorical timer. This object lock, often called an immutability flag, effectively secures your files for a specified duration. During this period, the files become resistant to any tampering or modification. 

With cloud storage, you can choose the duration for which a file should be preserved in a specific format. While an indefinite retention period is an option, it's rarely chosen, as most data doesn't need to be stored indefinitely. This flexibility allows organisations to tailor their data storage needs to match their requirements. 

Data loss prevention actions, such as implementing cloud or blockchain-based storage solutions, are ways businesses can reduce costs and ensure optimal efficiency. 

Are there any drawbacks to businesses implementing an immutable storage solution?

While immutable storage offers exceptional protection, there are some drawbacks to consider:

Ongoing storage costs

Immutable data cannot be edited, so new records and new tables must be created if the data needs to be updated. Over time, this will increase your storage costs.

Given the amount of data organisations store, particularly in regulated sectors, concerns about the cost of long-term storage have led to risky decisions. Humans like to avoid spending, even if that stores up risk later down the line. This is one reason people don’t invest enough in pensions. We choose jam today, even if that means perhaps losing the whole pot further down the line. Put simply, it’s a big bet to lose if, for reasons of cost, you haven’t stored the data you need for litigation or investigations. 

New solutions like LogLocker will help reduce the cost part of the equation, protecting businesses from risk by making long-term storage affordable.

Physical damage and tampering

Immutable storage cannot prevent physical damage to data caused by natural disasters or tampering. Organisations should implement redundancy and disaster recovery plans to address these risks through multi-location back-ups or distributed solutions. Similarly, systems and processes need to be put in place to ensure that supposedly immutable records or data can’t be altered accidentally or maliciously by employees or hackers. 

Complex data management

Managing immutable data can be complex. It requires robust data governance policies and systems to ensure that only necessary data is stored immutably and to manage the lifecycle of this data effectively. Without careful management, businesses might store large volumes of unnecessary data, exacerbating storage cost issues and making data retrieval more cumbersome.
Compliance and legal challenges

While immutable storage helps with regulatory compliance, it can also create challenges. For example, regulations like the GDPR include the right to be forgotten, which mandates that personal data be deletable under certain conditions. Immutable storage enforces compliance with such requirements by inherently preventing data deletion. Balancing the need for immutability with legal rights to data modification or deletion can be a tricky legal and technical challenge. With the right governance policies, data management practices and aligned systems, this can however be managed, for example, through tokenisation.

Find the immutable solution for you and your business

Immutable storage is a potentially transformative approach to data management; however, spiralling storage costs and complex system integration can make it a challenging path to pursue. Discover how LogLocker’s tight integration with Microsoft Sentinel cuts through complexity and reduces costs - learn how to make immutable storage work for you by booking a private demo.


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