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Data exfiltration, also known as data theft, extrusion, leakage, exfil or exportation, is the unauthorized transfer of an organization’s proprietary information and data. Data exfiltration and breaches can originate from both external attackers and internal parties
(insiders) within an organization.
Recently, data exfiltration and theft by insiders have increased substantially, becoming a major concern for CISOs and their organizations. Today, insiders have become more sophisticated with greater knowledge and these risks are compounded when insiders
own high-level credential access to their organization’s data and technology.
Insider data exfiltration is the unauthorized access or theft of sensitive data by an insider within the organization, such as an employee or key trusted partner. There are three main categories of insider data exfiltration or theft. These include:
Read: Understand the Differences Between Spear-Phishing and Phishing
Recent world events produced a whole new set of risks and insider data exfiltration vulnerabilities for organizations. Significant changes include the shift to remote work and the great resignation. Insider data theft has increased in organizations especially
as the reliance on remote work practices and technology changed the way employees interact with their organizations’ data and assets.
With 1 in 4 U.S. employees working primarily from home and many more resigning to take jobs with higher pay or more flexible benefits, insider data theft has become easier to commit. An extremely high labor turnover, advanced information access methods
and high stakes data makes insider data theft lucrative for profit or competitive advantage, whether it's by a current employee or a disgruntled ex-employee.
Insider data exfiltration targets sensitive business information, passwords, server access credentials, financial info, or customer and employee personal information. Methods for data exfiltration have multiplied, with outbound email, insecure device
downloads, database leaks, unprotected file servers and shares, cloud storage uploads, and unsecured cloud activity making up just a few of the ways in which insiders steal data.
As insider threats and data exfiltration become more aggressive and advanced, security teams find it increasingly difficult to prevent data loss before damage is done to the organization. Insider data exfiltration incidents are becoming common, bringing
new challenges for organizations to address, including:
There are two types of insider data exfiltration: malicious and non-malicious. Non-malicious exfiltration is when data loss is caused by a sophisticated scam, employee error or lack of training. While non-malicious exfiltration events can cause harm,
they are done so by accident, and it's easier to manage the impacts when employees can help trace what happened.
Malicious data exfiltration is far more common. Whether insiders want to sell sensitive data, assist hackers with ransomware attacks or inform competitors through industrial espionage—all for profit—their actions are much more damaging to
User and data activity monitoring is an essential measure to prevent insider threats and mitigate the risks of damaging data exfiltration. Use these guidelines to protect your organization from serious harm caused by insider data exfiltration or theft.
Insider data exfiltration is one of the most critical threats to organizational data security. Follow these best practices when developing an insider data theft prevention program.
By recognizing potential insider threats and how employees may intentionally or unintentionally exfiltrate data, you can build a strategy to better protect critical information and your organization from damaging data theft.
Although reasonable efforts will be made to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the information contained in our blog posts, no liability can be accepted by IANS or our Faculty members for the results of any actions taken by individuals or firms in
connection with such information, opinions, or advice.
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