On Saturday, July 6, 2019, the GitHub account of a Linux Ubuntu distributor, Canonical Ltd, was hacked. Canonical confirmed that there is no indication of data alteration or deletion, though it is still investigating. Despite numerous previous attacks, GitHub and its user accounts continue to remain vulnerable. This blog discusses the recent Canonical incident, previous GitHub incidents, and how one company is intelligently responding to the shifting security landscape by utilizing blockchain to protect against potential security breach fallout.


What Happened

Over the Fourth of July weekend, a hacker gained access to Canonical’s GitHub account. Acting blatantly obvious, they created 10 repos in Canonical’s account with the naming convention CAN_GOT_HAXXD_# as seen below:


GitHub Attack - Canonical Repo


Ubuntu Security immediately launched an investigation to get their arms around the full extent of the breach as well as removed the compromised account. They also disconnected Launchpad infrastructure, where the Ubuntu distribution is built and maintained, from their organization and are implementing remediations as necessary.


Ubuntu Security confirmed in a statement that there was no indication any source code or PII (Personally Identifiable Information) was impacted.

Ubuntu Security Tweet - Canonical Hack


At the end of their investigation, the security team will publish a publicly available update of the Linux distribution.


The Regular Occurrence of GitHub Attacks

Attacks have become a regular occurrence for GitHub. Perhaps, this most recent attack was actually a white hat test in response to the regular attacks, though this remains to be seen.


That said, last month, the official Ubuntu forum was hacked were approximately 2 million usernames and passwords were stolen. Then in May 2019, hackers were breaking into private code repos on GitHub, copying their data locally, deleting the data on the repo, and ransoming the copies to the project owners. And in June 2018, the Gentoo Linux distributor was hacked by an attacker who gained access due to a weak password and was able to maliciously inject a backdoor into some GitHub downloads for a specific OS version.


Maintaining operational excellence is a big deal. In the security industry, the understanding of account compromise has veered away from a hope that it doesn’t happen to an understanding that it does happen and to everyone. As such, trust has shifted from an implicit assumption to a process of explicit verification.


Protecting File Integrity from the Effects of Compromise

Everything can be hacked, so protection is key. Here is what one company, Virtuozzo, is doing to protect against hacks like the GitHub example. Virtuozzo (, a hyper-converged infrastructure software vendor, is utilizing CodeNotary (see the next section for more information about CodeNotary) to incorporate the powerful security mechanisms of blockchain into their offerings. This way no matter what security leak might be exploited, the source code is immutable and protected due to the blockchain-based service.


The way it works is that each file stored by Virtuozzo has it’s fingerprint (aka its hash) taken and then stored immutably on the CodeNotary’s blockchain. Then from that point on, every file can be verified as 100% authentic and untampered at any point in time, from anywhere in the world. By doing so, Virtuozzo gives its customers peace of mind anytime they open and use any Virtuozzo stored file as it is protected by the immutable CodeNotary blockchain.


About CodeNotary

CodeNotary brings trust and integrity to DevOps and the software industry. It allows development teams to strongly identify and track their digital assets and artifacts, such as libraries, builds, source code, containers, and dependencies throughout the DevOps process. This way organizations can always guarantee the veracity and integrity of their digital assets to themselves as a team and to others outside the team. By using digital ledger technology, it creates an immutable chain of trust which for the first time enables zero trust to be infused into application development and operation.


Test out CodeNotary for free and see for yourself.



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Use Case - Tamper-resistant Clinical Trials


Blockchain PoCs were unsuccessful due to complexity and lack of developers.

Still the goal of data immutability as well as client verification is a crucial. Furthermore, the system needs to be easy to use and operate (allowing backup, maintenance windows aso.).


immudb is running in different datacenters across the globe. All clinical trial information is stored in immudb either as transactions or the pdf documents as a whole.

Having that single source of truth with versioned, timestamped, and cryptographically verifiable records, enables a whole new way of transparency and trust.

Use Case - Finance


Store the source data, the decision and the rule base for financial support from governments timestamped, verifiable.

A very important functionality is the ability to compare the historic decision (based on the past rulebase) with the rulebase at a different date. Fully cryptographic verifiable Time Travel queries are required to be able to achieve that comparison.


While the source data, rulebase and the documented decision are stored in verifiable Blobs in immudb, the transaction is stored using the relational layer of immudb.

That allows the use of immudb’s time travel capabilities to retrieve verified historic data and recalculate with the most recent rulebase.

Use Case - eCommerce and NFT marketplace


No matter if it’s an eCommerce platform or NFT marketplace, the goals are similar:

  • High amount of transactions (potentially millions a second)
  • Ability to read and write multiple records within one transaction
  • prevent overwrite or updates on transactions
  • comply with regulations (PCI, GDPR, …)


immudb is typically scaled out using Hyperscaler (i. e. AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure) distributed across the Globe. Auditors are also distributed to track the verification proof over time. Additionally, the shop or marketplace applications store immudb cryptographic state information. That high level of integrity and tamper-evidence while maintaining a very high transaction speed is key for companies to chose immudb.

Use Case - IoT Sensor Data


IoT sensor data received by devices collecting environment data needs to be stored locally in a cryptographically verifiable manner until the data is transferred to a central datacenter. The data integrity needs to be verifiable at any given point in time and while in transit.


immudb runs embedded on the IoT device itself and is consistently audited by external probes. The data transfer to audit is minimal and works even with minimum bandwidth and unreliable connections.

Whenever the IoT devices are connected to a high bandwidth, the data transfer happens to a data center (large immudb deployment) and the source and destination date integrity is fully verified.

Use Case - DevOps Evidence


CI/CD and application build logs need to be stored auditable and tamper-evident.
A very high Performance is required as the system should not slow down any build process.
Scalability is key as billions of artifacts are expected within the next years.
Next to a possibility of integrity validation, data needs to be retrievable by pipeline job id or digital asset checksum.


As part of the CI/CD audit functionality, data is stored within immudb using the Key/Value functionality. Key is either the CI/CD job id (i. e. Jenkins or GitLab) or the checksum of the resulting build or container image.

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