Preventive and Protective Measures of Data Exfiltration

Data exfiltration is the unauthorized transfer of data from a computer or device. Here's everything you need to know about a data exfiltration attack.

What is Data Exfiltration

Exfiltration means to remove without detection. Data exfiltration is the unauthorized transfer of data from a computer or device. It can be done manually by an individual with physical access to the computer, but it’s also often automated through malicious programming over networks. Basically, data exfiltration is a form of hacking that occurs when an individual’s or company’s data is copied, transferred, or retrieved from a computer without authorization. This can happen through various techniques, but typically happens over the internet by hackers with the intent to gain access to networks and machines to locate specific information. This is basically a data exfiltration attack. Data exfiltration is difficult to detect as it often closely resembles normal network traffic. This makes the data hard for companies to realize what has happened until it’s too late and hackers have already gained access.

How Do Hackers Carry Out  A Data Exfiltration Attack

A lot of systems suffer from data exfiltration due to the use of common, easy-to-crack passwords. Hackers often gain access by remote applications or installing a removable media device when they have physical access. Advanced, persistent threats are one form of cyber attack in which the goal is usually to steal data. These attacks often target specific companies or organizations with a particular agenda, such as accessing restricted information. In order to steal from a company, hackers use different techniques. One common technique is social engineering or phishing emails with contextually relevant content that persuade the recipient of the email to open it unwittingly and install malware on their computer. Data discovery follows this exploit where they identify desired data by looking for patterns in network traffic and installing various tools like keyloggers which capture all keyboard input. Cybercriminals who successfully steal data may use it to damage your company’s reputation, for financial gain, or sabotage.

Data Exfiltration Prevention

When you think about data exfiltration, it usually relies on social engineering techniques and downloading an unknown or suspicious application. To prevent this from happening, companies should take proactive measures by blocking your users from downloading these apps without restricting access to applications they need. In order to get the malware onto a computer system in the first place, though, communication needs to exist with command or control servers so that instructions can be given and data extracted.

Endpoint Security Technique is an Important Part of Data Exfiltration Prevention

The easiest way for hackers to steal data is through endpoints, so it’s important that companies use endpoint detection solutions as the first line of defense against such threats. Data exfiltration seems to be a preventable process, but the advanced attacks that happen every day in the modern threat landscape require an all-encompassing approach to data protection. The company has made sure it monitors and protects each endpoint within its network.

Indicators of Data Exfiltration

Here's a brief checklist of indicators that your data is "leaving the building":

  1. Internal IP addresses that are unknown or have the erroneous IP/MAC address pai
  2. Unexpectedly large data transfers from one host to another
  3. No data transfer through IPv6, which has never been utilized previously.
  4. Excessive traffic to unexpected foreign IP addresses
  5. Quick DHCP address swaps with fresh MAC addresses
  6. Creating new subnets and/or VLANs when none previously existed
  7. Email messages that are larger than usual (Hopefully, organizational message ceilings are modest and are controlled.
  8. Violations of local storage policies (multi-terabyte USB drives are trivial to obtain.)
  9. New WiFi hosts, including both APs and non-AP supplicants
  10. Excessive browser uploads or unusual port traffic on VMware hosts

Protect Your Organization from Cybersecurity Threats

SecurityStudio helps information security leaders at organizations ensure they’re protected against cybersecurity threats, stay insurable, and legally defensible with our risk assessment and risk management software. Schedule a demo to learn how we can help.

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