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Tampering attack

(also data tampering)

Tampering attack definition

A tampering attack, or data tampering, entails the harmful alteration of information. Perpetrators who aren't authorized alter the data so that its integrity is compromised, typically aiming to achieve malicious advantage or interrupt functionality. The target of such an attack may be data that is either in the process of being transferred from one location to another or saved on a specific system or device.

See also: man-in-the-middle attack, brute-force attack, firewall, data integrity

Tampering attack examples

  • Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks: In this type of tampering attack, a malicious actor intercepts and alters the communication between two parties without their knowledge.
  • Data corruption: A user could manipulate the data stored in a system to cause erroneous outputs or system crashes.

Similarities and differences with other types of attacks

Tampering attacks are similar to injection attacks, where malicious data is inserted into a system. However, the difference lies in the intent and outcome — tampering attacks aim at altering existing data, while injection attacks focus on introducing new data.

Pros and cons of tampering attacks (from the attacker's perspective)


  • Disruption: Tampering attacks can disrupt operations, leading to a financial or operational loss for the victim.
  • Unauthorized gain: Altering data can lead to unauthorized benefits, such as changing values in a financial transaction.


  • Traceability: Many systems have robust tracking, making these attacks detectable.
  • Repercussions: If traced, attackers can face severe legal consequences.

Preventing tampering attacks

  • Use robust encryption techniques for data in transit and at rest.
  • Implement data integrity checks to ensure data hasn't been manipulated.
  • Use a VPN for secure and reliable data transmission.