Data exfiltration, otherwise known as data extrusion or data theft, refers to the unauthorized transfer of personal information from one computer or device to another. Data exfiltration can happen manually, by a person with physical access to a device, or automatically through malicious programming and software. Essentially, data exfiltration is a type of security breach that happens when a person or company’s data is transferred, copied, or stolen from a device or software without permission.
There are many techniques that malicious actors use to steal data. Often, these cyber-attacks are targeted thefts used to gain access to specific valuable information.
Unfortunately, data extrusion can be exceedingly difficult to catch. Hackers often mask theft by making it look like network traffic that is typical to the user, therefore making it easy to miss. Once a person or company’s data is breached, the damage can be unfathomable.
So, what does data exfiltration mean for your business? Without the proper understanding, care, and precautions, you can’t be sure that your data is safe. When your data isn’t safe, neither is your business. To adequately keep you and your company clear of hackers, it is vital to understand not just what data extrusion is but how to prevent these attacks from ever happening.
Using data encryption, management, and sharing software, such as WinZip® Enterprise, can help protect users from data exfiltration. Solutions like WinZip Enterprise are essential to eliminating the risk of data loss by providing file tracking that can show when files or data are moved, edited, or deleted.
Data exfiltration vs. ransomware attacks
Ransomware attacks use malicious software to threaten to publish a victim’s data or block access to data permanently unless a ransom is paid, usually via cryptocurrency. For a long time, this type of extortion was one of the most common threats to organizations worldwide. However, the value of Crypto has plummeted in recent years, which has reduced the monetary appeal of once-popular ransomware attacks.
That’s where data exfiltration takes the main stage. Data extrusion is a type of espionage that’s becoming more prevalent rapidly. Rather than holding information or data captive, exfiltration actors will try to extort their victims, threatening to release their confidential information. These malicious actors often threaten to sell or release information to unscrupulous third parties or the public.
Public data exposure through data exfiltration is often considered more dangerous than ransomware. When a ransomware attack is performed, there’s usually an option to pay a ransom to satisfy the hackers, or a company can try to retrieve backups of their data if it’s properly stored. Leaked data, however, may prove to be wholly unfixable and ultimately more detrimental.
Examples of recent data exfiltration and ransomware attacks
Today, cyber-attacks are widespread and frequent. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, there were over 1,864 data breaches in 2021, which was 68% more than in 2020. Even while organizations continue to improve their firewalls and detection systems, exfiltration actors are still finding a way in.
In April of 2022, the mobile payment company called Cash App reported that a former employee downloaded the personal information and data of over 8.2 million former and current customers. The hacker stole data that included full names, stock trading information, portfolio values, and brokerage account numbers.
On a smaller scale, over 2,000 people had their credit card information stolen from the budget airline EasyJet in 2020. This highly sophisticated cyberattack has been linked to a group of Chinese hackers that had targeted other airlines in the surrounding months. Currently, EasyJet is facing an £18 billion class-action lawsuit from the customers impacted by the data breach.
The examples of data exfiltration and ransomware attacks are limitless. The targeted entities range from oil pipeline operators to companies that protect sensitive personal information. Unfortunately, data theft and ransomware are only worsening, and no company is truly safe. The best way to avoid trouble is to use file management and compression software to keep you and your personal information secure.
Cost of data exfiltration or ransomware attacks for businesses
According to the 2022 cost of a data breach report by IBM and the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach in 2022 has reached a record high of $4.35 million. The cost of data exfiltration can be extensive. Customer turnover, legal charges, technical activities, loss of brand equity, and drain on employee productivity are just some of the many factors that are adversely affected by ransomware and data breaches.
4 reasons why secure file storage and sharing are essential
Secure file sharing and storage are essential for protecting sensitive information as it travels between users and networks. Without secure sharing platforms, your data can be easily breached. Ideally, an organization should use file-sharing and storing solutions specifically designed for businesses.
WinZip Enterprise® can provide your organization with incredible benefits that keep your data and information safe. There are four reasons why secure file storage and sharing are essential:
1. Enhanced data protection
When employees use unauthorized services, applications, systems, and accounts that don’t meet their company’s security standards, they risk leaking valuable information. Using WinZip Enterprise, managers can uphold standards and security protocols that secure organizational data.
2. Improved collaboration among team members
A secure file-sharing platform, such as WinZip Enterprise, improves collaboration among employees, whether they’re working from the office, home, or at another location. This software makes it simple to share all critical digital assets in one place, ensuring that everyone can find the information and data they need when needed.
3. Safe and effective file sharing capabilities
Many collaboration tools on the market make it difficult to share files without accidentally deleting or damaging them. For example, secure file-sharing platforms enable managers to control employee access levels for shared files, which adds an essential layer of protection. That way, unauthorized people can’t access, view, edit or delete files without permission.
4. Better data accountability
It’s oddly common for organizations to share sensitive files with all or most of their employees, which significantly increases the chance of data theft or exfiltration. Using WinZip Enterprise, administrators can limit what applications users and employees can access to ensure that data doesn’t become compromised.
IT requirements for protecting sensitive data
Every year, the government passes new laws and regulations regarding how companies must protect personal information and data. To date, there have been hundreds of cybersecurity-related laws and regulations enacted over the last four years alone.
Sensitive data that is referred to in these compliance laws include an individual’s:
- Health information
- Social security number
- Debit/credit card information
- Ethnic or racial data
- Religious beliefs
- Political standpoints
- Biometric or genetic data
- Sex or gender identification
In order to adhere to these compliance requirements and mitigate cyber threats, businesses need to take a security-first approach. Below are seven ways for organizations to meet compliance requirements for cybersecurity-related legislation:
Assess risks: Organizations should identify all devices, users, information, applications, and networks. Then, they should categorize these factors as “high-risk” or “low-risk” to assess potential attack vectors.
Set controls: Once organizations recognize their risks, they need to set appropriate controls to ensure this sensitive data is secure from malicious actors.
Monitor control effectiveness: Controls that organizations set in the present day may not be effective in the future. Organizations must continuously monitor controls so that data doesn’t become vulnerable.
Remediate risks: Risks to sensitive information are inevitable. Organizations must be able to identify their weaknesses and prioritize which risks are of the highest priority and need focus first.
Document activities: Organizations must document all processes, activities, and policies to show that their policies and security efforts are effective. This process is closely watched by an auditor who will report on any issues or findings within an organization’s security program.
Report to the Board of Directors or appropriate government body: Much of the legislation passed requires senior leadership to report to them with any issues or updates they may have to protect customer information. If this isn’t done properly, the government can hold corporate leadership responsible.
How WinZip enterprise can help your organization stay safe from data theft
WinZip Enterprise secures, manages, and protects sensitive business data. This fully customizable solution empowers IT admins with streamlined controls over user access, encryption standards, and protocols for storing and sharing information.
Detecting and stopping data exfiltration is key to eliminating data loss. Therefore, solutions like WinZip Enterprise are essential by providing file tracking, which records every instance of a file being moved, edited, or deleted. These insights help organizations review system activity and identify both insider attacks and external threats.
WinZip Enterprise leverages military-grade AES encryption for unsurpassed data protection at rest and in transit. This keeps files safe whether they are in storage or being shared, preventing unauthorized access and associated costly unauthorized data transfers that can result in extortion or even worse acts.