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Covid-19 fake news hacks its way onto government blockchain website

Don't worry, we speak : Español (Spanish), too!

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Contxto – Fake news respects no quarentine. 

On March 14, the government in Argentina disclosed that its system had effectively been hacked. Perpetrator(s) uploaded false information regarding guidelines for public officials on handling the coronavirus (Covid-19) onto the country’s official bulletin website, which just so happens to use blockchain technology. 

As a result, officials took the site temporarily offline.

Correspondingly, another issuance will be necessary to disclaim the false statements posted on its 34,239 editions.

Have the blockchain gods forsaken the government of Buenos Aires? Not exactly. Blockchain isn’t bullet-proof.

Related article: Government of Argentina suspends blockchain project for new companies

Hacked! Why Argentina’s case is a big deal

Perhaps you’re wondering, “what’s the big deal? It’s just a bulletin.”

No, it’s not just a bulletin. 

Many countries have their own official bulletin or gazette wherein laws, notifications, or other big-deal, high-level government information is formally announced.

In Argentina, it’s known as the Boletín Oficial. Mexico’s is christiend the Diario Oficial de la Federación. In the US it’s called the Federal Register.

And the fact that something of such substantial importance in government communications was hacked is both alarming and interesting.

First off, blockchain-based systems are often hailed as more fool-proof to this type of manipulation. 

And that’s because each block within the chain is supposed to have its own unique cryptographic fingerprint and use what’s known as a “consensus protocol.” Through this protocol, the nodes on the network share and record transactional history. 

Thanks to these mechanisms, in theory, not just any outsider can show up and manipulate the data.

But with some creativity and determination, hackers can bust through blockchain’s apparently impenetrable defenses.

Secondly, everyone is well aware of how fake news can make its way onto social media. As a result, we’re consistently advised to only rely on official sources, like government websites, for more information on the pandemic. 

The hacking of a government outlet like Buenos Aires’ means that no source is 100 percent safe and fool-proof to being used as a platform to broadcast false statements.

That’s why we should make an effort to consult additional sources for more information. Especially for a topic as sensitive as healthcare.

And remember, if the government is hackable, so are you. So take the necessary precautions to protect your own data and systems.

Related articles: Tech and startups from Argentina!

-ML

Mariana López
My topic darlings are startup management, edtech, and all-things pop culture. J Balvin is Latin America's best reggaetonero and I dare you to convince me otherwise.

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