Consulting with a Conscience™

A cruciallogics blog

Written by Omar Rbati
on April 19, 2021

This year, it's estimated that worldwide financial losses due to cybercrime will reach US$6 trillion. Data exfiltration, which is corporate data leakage to unauthorized users, is becoming increasingly frequent, and it's getting more sophisticated. These leaks could be triggered internally by personnel who should not have access to certain types of data or externally by unauthorized users or hackers. The average cost of a data breach is US$3.86 million. However, a breach does more than just financial damage, it also erodes customer confidence and tarnishes company reputations. 


The Risk of Data Exfiltration

The size of the company doesn't matter – it doesn't take a lot of staff to have one leak, intentional or not. Brazen hackers could cunningly request access to confidential data. A company's sensitive data could be exposed via a phishing campaign or malware that grabs credentials. Or even an employee's personal device could be compromised to gain access to organizational data. Compounding IT security issues, Covid-19 has led to more people working from home using their personal devices, which has resulted in an additional, poorly protected path for hackers to exfiltrate data from the company's IT storage facility. To mitigate these risks, implementing a robust data governance policy is crucial. Data governance establishes clear guidelines for data classification, access controls, handling procedures, and security measures, minimizing the likelihood of unauthorized data access and exfiltration.


How to Prevent Data Exfiltration

There are numerous ways to protect a company's data and multiple tools to prevent data loss. Here are eight practices to prevent data exfiltration:


  1. A trained user is your first level of defense. Introduce online and in-house courses to train end-users on cybersecurity and run mock attacks/simulations to coach them on how to react to a cyber incident.


  1. Implement strict IT security and data loss prevention policies to prevent users from leaking data either deliberately or unintentionally.


  1. Customize M365 default settings to meet the company's security needs to prevent data from being compromised through spyware or malware attacks.


  1. Implement mail protection controls to stop auto-forwarding of emails and prevent data exfiltration. Data Loss Prevention measures should be implemented to include automatically flagging sensitive information like credit card numbers.


  1. Give users of your company's IT infrastructure the ability to encrypt data manually or automatically and set permissions to limit access to intended recipients only.


  1. Use endpoint management for live monitoring of your IT infrastructure and manage or block the transfer of data – like the copying of data to an external storage portal.


  1. Prevent yourself from insider risk and disgruntled employees by implementing proper insider risk controls 


  1. Utilize multi-factor authentication (MFA) to increase data security. Add session-based controls and extra layers of security to protect user identity, devices and data.


Additional Cloud Data and Identity Protection Measures

CrucialLogics has a special package for Cloud Data and Identity Protection. It offers a definitive checklist for securing a company's cloud environment to prevent data and identity from being exfiltrated. Eight of the protocol features include:


  1. Data and Identity Permissions Access 
    • Disables O365 basic authentication access 
    • Disables Exchange Online (EXO) legacy protocols
    • Control Tenant data and identity access for 3rd party app
    • Privileged Identity Management
    • M365 internal and external access policies


  1. Data and Identity Conditional Access  
    • Prevent corporate data from being downloaded on unauthorized devices
    • Force Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)
    • Prevent tenant access from unauthorized locations
    • Cloud Accounts, password policies and self-service password reset


  1. Data and Identity Auditing and Monitoring 
    • Account sign-ins risks
    • Access review policies


  1. Data Labeling 
    • Sensitivity Labels protection
    • Retention labels


  1. Data Retention 
    • M365 services retention policies 
    • Content search, eDiscovery and legal hold


  1. Data Loss Prevention 
    • Sensitive data loss protection (DLP) rules 
    • M365 Insider risk management  


  1. Data Compliance 
    • Bring Your Own Key (BYOK) vs. MS encryption keys with lockbox management
    • Data Geo Location 
    • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)


  1. Data Advance Threat 
    • Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection
    • Disable External Outlook mail forwarding rules
    • Microsoft Cloud App Security 

Last year, 52% of data breaches were the result of a malicious attack. Cyberattacks are becoming more prevalent every day and data exfiltration strategies are constantly evolving. To learn more about our Cloud Data and Identity Protection and how we can help you optimize your security strategies, reach out to our team.

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