Data exfiltration is when malware or a bad actor transfers data from a device like a mobile phone or computer. When data is exported, stolen, or leaked, it can pose a serious threat to an organization. Companies can face extensive financial and reputational damage when they fail to safeguard their data against data exfiltration.

What Data is Stolen?

Cybercriminals who practice data exfiltration often steal the following data:

  • Customer databases.
  • Intellectual property and trade secrets.
  • Usernames, passwords, and credentials.
  • Software or proprietary algorithms.
  • Personal financial information.
  • Corporate and financial information.
  • Cryptographic keys.
  • Personally identifiable information such as Social Security numbers.

How Does Data Exfiltration Happen?

Hackers often steal data from systems that rely on weak, easily guessable passwords. These bad actors can gain access to target machines through remote applications. Or, if they have physical access to an organization’s building, they can install removable media devices.

One type of cyberattack, where data exfiltration is the main objective, is known as an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT). This form of attack is characterized by its persistent targeting of specific companies to access and steal sensitive data. ATPs commonly use phishing emails or social engineering techniques to persuade employees to click on links or open attachments that will install malware on the organization’s network.

Once a system is infected, ATPs can go undetected, stealthily searching for the most valuable data. They often prioritize information such as trade secrets, financial records, confidential customer data, and intellectual property.

How to Prevent Data Exfiltration

Data exfiltration commonly utilizes social engineering tactics to infiltrate networks, so restricting the download of unfamiliar and questionable applications would be beneficial. But fully blocking such installations without restricting access to useful applications proves challenging.

Malware needs to communicate externally with a command or a control server to follow instructions or exfiltrate data. Detecting and blocking this unauthorized communication is a more viable option than blocking application downloads.

Data exfiltration focuses on collecting, moving, and duplicating data from endpoints, which have always been a vulnerable target for cybercriminals. As a result, businesses must prioritize comprehensive endpoint detection solutions as a first line of defense against data exfiltration.

See also  Vital Lessons from LPL & Ameriprise Ahead of Copilot Implementation

Protect Your Endpoints with Agio

Properly protecting your endpoints and eradicating any threats will help prevent a data breach and keep your valuable data safe. Agio offers endpoint detection and response solutions that feature human expertise and predictive intelligence — offering you a robust solution that can ward off ever-evolving cyber threats. Find out more about our endpoint protection plans or contact us online to discuss your unique security needs.