How to Prevent Data Exfiltration to Protect Your Sensitive Data

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How to Prevent Data Exfiltration

The risk of data exfiltration is growing as the amount of sensitive information kept online increases. Sensitive data protection is more crucial than ever.

Data exfiltration, or the unauthorized transfer of data from a system, is a significant threat to organizations of all sizes. It can result in data leakage, financial information, personal data, and more.

Cybersecurity is now the most difficult problem for many businesses. The worldwide cybersecurity industry is expected to rise to 266.2 billion USD by 2027.

The unlawful movement of sensitive data leakage from an organization’s network to an external location can lead to enormous financial losses, reputational harm, and legal ramifications.

 

What Exactly is Data Exfiltration?

Data exfiltration refers to the unauthorised transfer of data from an organization’s network to an external location.

It happens when hackers or insiders take sensitive data, including intellectual property, financial information, or personal information, and send it to a remote server or a cloud storage account.

Data leakage may result in considerable financial losses, reputational harm, and legal ramifications for the firm. It may potentially expose sensitive information that might be exploited for identity theft or other harmful reasons.

Preventing data exfiltration is critical for securing sensitive data and preserving the network’s security.

 

Data Exfiltration Types

Many sorts of information can be stolen using data exfiltration, including:

  • Usernames, passwords, and other identifying information.
  • Intellectual property or business plan documents are examples of confidential firm data.
  • Individual information on the customers, clients, or staff.
  • Decryption keys are used to decode encrypted data.
  • Financial data, such as credit card numbers or bank account numbers.
  • Algorithms that are proprietary or software.

Consider a few different methods of data exfiltration to better understand how it works.

a. Email

caution while reading email

Email is the number one data exfiltration attack vector, according to IT executives. Every day, over 124 billion business emails are sent and received, and employees spend 40% of their time using email to share memos, spreadsheets, invoices, and other sensitive information and unstructured data with colleagues inside and outside their firms.

Needless to say, it contains a wealth of information, which is why it is frequently employed in data exfiltration operations. But how exactly?

  • Insider risks can email material to their own accounts, personal accounts, or third-party accounts.
  • External bad actors use phishing, spear phishing, and ransomware assaults to target employees.

b. Remote entry

According to 2020 Verizon statistics, brute force tactics or compromised user credentials are used in more than 80% of “hacking” data exfiltration instances. That is why it is critical to maintaining passwords strong and secure.

Another method of data exfiltration is to get remote access to a server, device, or cloud storage platform.

An attacker can get remote access to a company’s data assets through a variety of means, including:

  • Exploiting access flaws through hacking.
  • To determine the password, a “brute force” assault is used.
  • Malware installation, whether by phishing or another way.
  • Using stolen credentials obtained through phishing or bought on the dark web.

c. Physical accessibility

In addition to phishing and malware, attackers can simply put sensitive data on a laptop, USB drive, or other portable storage device and stroll it out of a company’s premises.

Physical data leakage from a firm necessitates physical access to a server or device. As a result, present or former personnel are frequently connected with this kind of data exfiltration.

 

How to Stop Data Exfiltration

Preventing data exfiltration requires a multi-layered approach that includes technical controls, security policies, and employee training.

Here are some ways to prevent data exfiltration:

1. Use Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Solutions

DLP solutions can help detect and prevent data exfiltration by monitoring network traffic and identifying any attempts to transfer sensitive data.

DLP solutions can also provide alerts and prevent unauthorized transfers of data or data leakage.

2. Implement Network Segmentation

The process of separating a network into smaller sub-networks is known as “network segmentation.”

An enterprise can limit data mobility and prevent unwanted access to critical information by employing network segmentation.

This also makes it easier to monitor network traffic and detect any suspicious activity.

3. Secure Endpoints

Endpoints are network-connected devices such as laptops, desktop computers, and mobile devices. It is critical to secure these endpoints in order to prevent data exfiltration.

Endpoint security solutions like firewalls, anti-virus software, and intrusion prevention systems can help with this.

4. Implement Access Controls

Access controls can aid in the prevention of illegal access to sensitive data leakage. This may be accomplished by adopting robust authentication systems, such as multi-factor authentication, and restricting access to sensitive data to those who need it.

5. Tagging and labelling sensitive data

Labeling and tagging sensitive data exfiltration is another data loss prevention (DLP) approach. When DLP software detects tagged data leaving the company’s network, it can be highlighted or blocked.

Acronis data loss prevention
Acronis Data Loss Prevention Solution

This strategy, however, is totally dependent on employees accurately labeling data. Given the volume of data that firms handle, the manual tagging method is no longer viable because employees may label items incorrectly or not at all.

6. Encrypt Sensitive Data

Encrypting sensitive data makes data access and theft more difficult for attackers. This entails encoding sensitive data into a code that can only be decoded using a key.

Some companies ban or denylist specific websites or activity to avoid data exfiltration efforts. This method entails banning specific email services (such as Gmail), domains, or software (such as DropBox) connected with cyberattacks.

7. Employee Training

Employees are frequently the weakest link in a company’s security. Employee education on the importance of data security and the hazards associated with data exfiltration can aid in the prevention of data breaches.

This involves educating personnel on data security best practices such as password hygiene and offering regular security awareness training.

 

Conclusion

Data exfiltration prevention is critical for securing sensitive data. Organizations may reduce the risk of data breaches and keep sensitive information out of the wrong hands by installing technical controls, security policies, and personnel training.

If you want to protect your company’s data, Exabytes offers Acronis Cyber Protect with plans starting at RM15.99/license/mo.

For more information, contact us now.

Related articles:

Enterprise Data Loss Prevention: Prioritize Your Data Security

Data Privacy, Data Security, Data Protection (Differences)

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