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What Is Data Exfiltration? Prevention And Protection

data exfiltration

Commonly known as data exploitation, data exportation, or data extrusion, the process of Data Exfiltration involves transferring of data in an unauthorized manner. 

You may also address it as data theft or data leak and it can cause massive damage to home users and big enterprises. It can be conducted both manually and automatically by gaining access to your company devices. 

It is usually carried over the network or the internet spectrum and aims at gaining access and stealing a specific piece of data. The process of data exfiltration involves transferring data both within and outside an organization which makes it highly difficult to detect. Such attacks can be highly damaging with immeasurable risks, hence it is essential to be aware of its working along with the preventive measures.

Creating an adaptive security culture that can help detect all the plausible causes is what can help organizations in protecting themselves from data exfiltration.

Most Popular Example Of Data Exfiltration

The data breach incident which occurred in SunTrust Bank in April 2018 is known to be one of the most popular incidences of Data Exfiltration. The company lost personal data of around 1.5 million of its customers when an insider stole the user’s personal information and shared it with third party agencies.

Various Types of Data Exfiltration

Here are some of the most common types of Data extrusion and how they work. Unfortunately, with time these methods are getting highly advanced and sophisticated, so being aware of its various types will help us stay a step ahead of it. 

  1. Downloads to Unsecure Device: This type of data exploit usually happens when you are using an authorized channel and trusted device to transfer it to a local device that is insecure. Transfer of data to an unmonitored device like a smartphone, the laptop makes it highly vulnerable to attack.
  2. Outbound Email: If you are using an outbound email address then all your data including your emails, calendar, images, planning documents, and other information are at risk. It can be easily transferred to a third party email address in the form of an attachment. Hence, following email security solutions in the day to day work is essential for safety against data exfiltration.
  3. Uploads to External devices. Uploading your sensitive documents on an external device also exposes it to greater risk. 
  4. Handling of Cloud in an Insecure manner: Cybercriminal can also target cloud service to conduct data exploit attacks. No matter how secure your cloud services are if you use it in an insecure way you are making it vulnerable to attacks. 

Prevention Against Data Exfiltration

  1. Cyber-criminals can exploit the communication channels used within an organization. They deploy malware to breach the security walls of unauthorized communication channels, hence blocking all such channels becomes the first step toward safety.
  2.  Strengthen the security wall of your organization to counter the impact of data exportation. They should be able to detect and filter legitimate communications.
  3. Endpoint security is another important thing that can keep your data guarded against a data exfiltration attack. Users should not be able to submit their sensitive information on websites outside the organization network. This will protect them from phishing attacks and keystroke logging.
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