What is Data Exfiltration? The Silent Digital Network Threat

Data exfiltration, in particular, can be a nightmare for businesses and individuals. And that’s simply another bliss of technology. However, fear not! This article is here to guide you through the murky waters of data breaches and give you practical tips on protecting yourself.

What is Data Exfiltration

Along the way, we’ll share some eye-opening examples of how data exfiltration can wreak havoc on unsuspecting victims. Are you already curious? Let’s dive in!

Zero Time to Spare? Here’s the Article’s Gist

  • Data exfiltration involves unauthorized digital data extraction, often leading to cybercrimes.
  • Techniques include external and internal attacks, outbound emails, social engineering, and insider threats.
  • Detecting data breaches is complex; Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) help identify suspicious activities.
  • Prevention strategies include employee awareness, data risk assessment, regular data backups, and investing in cybersecurity tools.
  • FastestVPN, a trusted solution, provides encryption and protection against data exfiltration risks.

What the Article Talks About

  • What Is Data Exfiltration?
  • How Does Data Exfiltration Work?
  • What Are the Types and Techniques of Data Exfiltration?
  • How to Detect Data Exfiltration?
  • How to Prevent Data Exfiltration?

What Is Data Exfiltration?

Data exfiltration defines as the illegal extraction of digital data. Cybercriminals carry out this activity by getting illegal access to computers and mobile devices belonging to individuals or businesses. The stolen information is then used for illegal activities, including ransomware, blackmail, and reputation damage.

That said, the data exfiltration techniques market was assessed at $69.7 billion in 2021 and is anticipated to increase at a CAGR of 12.3% through 2022 – 2031 to reach $217.5 billion.

How Does Data Exfiltration Work?

There are two ways data exfiltration might happen:

  • Foreign attack
  • Internal attack

External attacks often start when Hackers break into a company’s network and install malware. Then, this malicious program is in charge of sending data to an outside server. The hackers may later sell or reveal the material they have obtained.

Threats from inside might be the result of intentional or unintentional behavior. Sensitive corporate information might be purposefully transferred to personal storage by a staff member to sell it to a hacker in the future. Fraudsters might even trick an employee into unwittingly disclosing such important information.

What Are the Types and Techniques of Data Exfiltration?

Cybercriminals use various methods to steal sensitive data; these techniques are constantly changing and getting harder to stop. Understanding the hacking techniques used is the first step in resisting these efforts.

Outbound Emails

Hackers may use outbound emails to get important information if they enter a company’s internal network. Using methods like text messages and file attachments, the hacker gathers and sends the data they have retrieved to their email account.

Meanwhile, a 2020 research found that the most typical way for sensitive material to be leaked during insider events was by forwarding emails to a personal email address.

Finding instances of data exfiltration using techniques like outgoing emails can be difficult. Organizations might not be aware that their data has been transferred to hostile parties since outbound emails are a common and legal means of communication.

Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks

To trick someone into disclosing sensitive information, social engineering uses psychological manipulation. Phishing assaults, which get victims to download malware and provide their account credentials unwittingly, are among the most common methods.

An email that pretends to be from a reliable source is a common phishing technique. As an illustration, the sender may pretend to be a bank alerting consumers about inadequate cash. Users are frequently prompted to open an email attachment or a link immediately. Unfortunately, these URLs and files include malware designed to steal the victim’s login information, which may seem like a keylogger or trojan.

In some instances, hackers launch targeted phishing attacks to obtain information from particular users, such as senior business executives, famous people, or elected officials.

Accidental Insider Threat

In the US, data exfiltration has been identified as the most prevalent insider threat in the US, making up 62% of cyber attacks. An insider threat is a cyberattack from someone working for a company or accessing its networks or systems.

This person’s motive can be a current or former employee, consultant, board member, or business associate, and could be purposeful, inadvertent, or malevolent.

An insider threat – one of the most common data exfiltration examples – in cybersecurity often entails someone abusing their access to an organization’s assets and data to harm the business’s systems, networks, data, and equipment. These include unlawful information disclosure, terrorism, resource degradation, espionage, corruption, and sabotage.

Insider dangers may also be a springboard for thieves to launch malware or ransomware operations.

Downloadable Threats

This technique for obtaining digital data often involves a person who has network access to a business. The insider uses a secure device inside the company to send private data to a device, not under company surveillance.

This gadget may be a camera, an external hard drive, or an unauthorized smartphone that circumvents the company’s security procedures.

How to Detect Data Exfiltration?

Finding a data breach is complicated, like looking for a needle in a haystack. Using advanced hacking techniques by malicious actors can mask their attacks, making a security breach invisible from regular network traffic. Organizations must use systems that track dangerous actions in real-time to detect cybercrime.

One of these technologies is an Intrusion Detection System (IDS), which continuously scans a network for indications of hostile activity. The IDS notified the security staff when it discovered something suspicious.

Once the program detects a threat, the business may analyze it using static or dynamic malware analysis methods. These technologies enable firms to strengthen their internal data security systems and offer insights into possible harm.

How to Prevent Data Exfiltration?

After reading about data exfiltration examples, to prevent data loss, one must work diligently since not doing so has serious hazards. The following tactics should be used by organizations to combat the threat of data exfiltration:

Employee Awareness

Employers should educate their staff members after realizing that human error is a significant factor in data breaches.

Educating staff members about phishing scams, the dangers of sending data to unsecured devices, and the weaknesses of using default passwords is crucial. Regular training on best practices for internet safety is essential for raising employee awareness.

Conduct Data Risk Assessment

Data risk assessments can be carried out to help businesses find weaknesses in their internal networks. Companies may prepare for possible data exfiltration risks by identifying these weak spots.

Keep Data Backups

It’s a good idea to avoid relying too heavily on a single source. As a result, frequent data backups act as a safety net during data theft, making data restoration easier.

Investing in Cybersecurity Tools

Using cybersecurity technologies, data loss protections may be strengthened. Corporate network security may be significantly increased with the help of a next-generation firewall (NGFW), and virtual private network (VPN).

With this strategy, typical dangers may be avoided, unwanted access is blocked, and digital data can be encrypted.

FAQs - What is Data Exfiltration

What is exfiltration in cyber attack?

Data exfiltration is the unauthorized copying, transferring, or obtaining of data from a server or a person's computer.

What is the repercussion of a data exfiltration event?

A single case of data exfiltration might bring unwanted attention to your company and hurt its reputation and bottom line. Due to this, organizations from various industries prioritize and continuously enhance their cybersecurity efforts.

What is the difference between data exfiltration vs data breach?

The unlawful removal of data from a system is known as data exfiltration. A data breach is a more general word that includes any illegal access to, acquisition of, or disclosure of data, whether or not it has been deleted.

Wrapping Up

As per an FBI report in 2022, there were 800,944 complaints about cybercrime overall from the general public – which data exfiltration examples clearly represent. And, with the advancement of technology and the growing worth of data, data theft and breaches aren’t new to our ears.

However, investing in a trusted solution is the best way to stay safe. For example, a reliable VPN, like FastestVPN, is one. From offering AES 256-bit encryption to an Internet Kill Switch – it has got you covered!

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