GhostBots and the need to protect individuals' content with decentralized storage

Feb. 5, 2024
With the proliferation of artificial intelligence and machine learning, these threats are becoming more sophisticated and challenging to combat.

In the internet age, our digital footprint often outlives us, leaving behind a trail of personal data, memories, and creative works. However, a growing concern in the digital era is the potential misuse and mishandling of this posthumous content, which can be harvested by malicious entities such as "ghostbots." In this article, we will explore the concept of ghostbots and the critical importance of safeguarding the digital legacies of the deceased through decentralized storage solutions.

GhostBots: The Digital Phantoms

Ghostbots, or digital entities programmed to scrape, manipulate, and exploit online data, pose a significant threat to the content of deceased individuals. They can be used to mine personal information, spread misinformation, or even create deepfake content that tarnishes a person's reputation long after passing away. With the proliferation of artificial intelligence and machine learning, these threats are becoming more sophisticated and challenging to combat.

The Decentralized Storage Revolution

Decentralized storage solutions are emerging as a powerful and secure means of protecting the digital assets of the deceased. Unlike traditional cloud storage, decentralized storage relies on a network of independent providers who store data fragments. This distribution ensures that no single entity has full control or access to the data, making it significantly more resilient to attacks and breaches.

Distributed Storage + Payment processor + Monitor

Decentralized storage is essentially distributed storage with blockchain used as a mechanism to pay the providers and keep track of changes to the data by the user to help serve as a security layer. The blockchain also ensures that the storage providers are active and storing data on their servers. It challenges a provider randomly on a random allocation, random file, and a random block within a file. The provider has a finite time to respond; otherwise, they don't get paid and instead get penalized.

Centralized Storage Issues

With centralized storage, you're dealing with one entity which is vulnerable to internal security leaks leading to hacks or server and network outages because it's a single point of failure. With centralized storage, posthumous content can easily get manipulated and altered and even stolen in the worst case.

Blockchain Storage Benefits

With blockchain storage, the user has full control over their data and can select the providers (and the number of them) where they want to store. The user has inherent privacy because the data is fragmented over multiple servers. Even if one server is hacked, the data is safe because only a portion of the data is affected. In addition to fragmentation, the data can be encrypted with the user's key for higher protection and shared with any private party with a proxy re-encryption key distributed over the providers.

This enables the protection of the data and no single point of failure in the process of key distribution for the shared party to get access to the data. When the shared party requests the data from the providers, each of the storage providers uses the proxy key sent by the owner to re-encrypt the data so that only the shared party can decrypt it with their own key.

Along with fragmentation and encryption, the user can use the immutability feature to prevent any change or deletion of their data. These three-layered security features form the cornerstone of dStorage and unparalleled security compared to traditional cloud.

Enhanced Security with Blockchain Storage

Blockchain data storage offers advanced security features that are especially relevant when preserving the content of the deceased:

Proxy Re-Encryption: Blockchain employs a one-click proxy re-encryption, a technique that enhances data security to share encrypted data without the need to decrypt the data. With this feature, data remains encrypted and cannot be deciphered unless the provider possesses the proxy key associated with the shared party.

This added layer of protection ensures that even if a breach occurs, the content remains inaccessible to unauthorized users, and the content owner doesn't need to do any work other than click of a button to share their content with a party.

Immutability: Immutability is crucial for maintaining the integrity of posthumous content. Blockchain storage technology ensures that data cannot be deleted or altered, even if the key of the content owner is compromised. This is vital for preserving the authenticity of the content and protecting it from manipulative ghostbots.

The immutability is done at each provider and so cannot be manipulated or hacked easily since all providers agree on the protocol to prevent any change or deletion of user data.

NFT ensemble: Züs's Chalk platform offers a no code approach to immortalize the deceased memories in the form of an NFT ensemble that can be minted and traded on any marketplace such as Opensea. The ensemble on Chalk provides the backstory and context to the NFT and adds value so that if a 3rd party desires to use it or buy it, the family gets rewarded royalties for such transactions.

All the artifacts stored on Züs are presented at their high original resolution, increasing the platform's value.

Permanent Storage Capability: Some blockchain storage services go a step further by allowing anyone to pay for an allocation to preserve the legacy of stored data over time. This ensures that the digital footprint of the deceased remains intact and their memory lives on through their content.    

Service Provider Portability: Blockchain storage done correctly allows the user to add a provider in order to increase redundancy or replace a provider if a provider is not performing well or the price has increased substantially. This allows the family to keep the memories of the departed works for a long time with high performance and on budget.

Intellectual Property Protection Via Tokenization: The easily copyable nature of digital assets means generational data will need protections against third parties using content for monetization.

The nature of blockchain storage allows NFTs to easily be minted from data stored in chain vaults, and thus the minting date is encrypted–providing a rock solid stamp on ownership source.

Protecting Digital Legacies

In an era where digital content can persist indefinitely and be easily manipulated, it's essential to protect the content of deceased individuals. The rise of ghostbots makes the need for secure, decentralized storage solutions more critical than ever.

These platforms offer the peace of mind that posthumous content will be preserved, secure, and immutable, safeguarding the legacy of those who have passed away, and any monetary benefits of their usage would go to the family.


Saswata Basu is a blockchain expert and the founder and CEO of Züs (formerly 0Chain). He is a visionary entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in privacy, decentralized storage, blockchain, data security, distributed systems, AI, IoT, cloud services, and wireless. At Züs, he is building the most private decentralized storage platform with user-configurable total protection. He holds MS and PhD in EE from UCLA.