Best Practices to Prevent Data Exfiltration

    Data exfiltration is one of the biggest threats to data security. It can result in severe losses and devastating outcomes for enterprises. Data exfiltration is a critical business risk and may result in significant financial loss, regulatory compliance violations, and much more. Organizations should review existing security procedures and institute enhanced security processes in order to avoid data exfiltration and minimize any catastrophic incidents before they happen.

    Outlined here are some best practices that will help enterprises prevent data exfiltration.

    Block Unauthorized Channels of Communication

    Consider blocking all unauthorized communication channels, ports, and protocols as a best practice by default, then allowing them on an as-needed basis. This approach provides a better data protection policy than one where by default, all entryways are allowed, which can lead to problems such as unintended disclosure of data over the web by users who fail to turn off the HTTP service of a server.

    Prevent Phishing Attacks

    A common vector for malicious data exfiltration is phishing. Therefore, taking precautions to stop phishing attacks is an important move towards mitigating the possibility of data exfiltration. To this end, it is important to inform workers on how phishing attacks operate, how to recognize one, and what to do when they think they are facing a phishing attack. It also helps to avoid this form of attack by writing rules for security analytics tools that can produce warnings when they detect emails, SMS messages, and other material that could be involved in phishing attempts.

    Revoke Data Access Routinely For Former Employees

    Prohibiting the access of an employee to IT systems should happen immediately once the relationship between an employee and an organization ends. The same holds true for business partners or suppliers who, during their partnership with a company, may still have access to internal systems but should no longer have that access once the relationship is over. Don’t wait a week or a month for old accounts to be “cleaned up.” Make the procedure an automatic part of the protocol for departure.

    Educate Staff

    Because software tools and automation can only go so far as to prevent employees from accidentally sharing information with unauthorized parties, it is important to educate employees about company data sharing policies and best practices for keeping data safe.

    That said, it is possible to use automated tools to help identify instances of unauthorized data sharing, such as suspicious network behavior that suggests that an employee has linked a personal computer to the network and copies data to it.

    Identify Confidential Data and Redact It

    Not all of the data is at the same risk level for exfiltration. Some data is more vulnerable than other information. Based on factors such as the systems it resides on, whether those systems are linked to the network, some data could be more easily exfiltrated than other properties. For this purpose, a significant step towards preventing exfiltration is to classify the systems on which confidential data resides and ensure that it is adequately protected on such systems. It should be copied to a more secure system in situations where data cannot be protected and then removed from the original system.

    Set a Clear BYOD Policy

    Organizations that allow BYOD activities should have a specific policy in place on which information can and cannot be copied to personal devices. To detect breaches that can include data exfiltration, monitoring the network for misuse of personal devices is also important.

    Identify Malicious and Irregular Traffic on Network

    IT infrastructures that power modern companies rely heavily on a network link, making it an obvious vector of attack for the exfiltration of malicious data. It is, therefore, a crucial practice to track the network for signs of breaches or attempted breaches to catch attacks early before they lead to successful data exfiltration.

    Implement Processes for Data Encryption & Backup

    While most organizations usually use data protection and data backup procedures to help protect data against attackers or internal mishaps, in the event of threats such as data exfiltration, it is important to ensure that these steps are optimized.

    By converting data into ciphertext, data encryption protects sensitive data stored on internal systems. Attackers have no means of knowing and using the data without a key. Data backup ensures that while the data exfiltration attack is being investigated, the company will recover the missing data and restart operations.

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