October 06, 2022

It’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month! Best Practices for Protecting Sensitive Data from Exfiltration

Fall is our favorite time of year. While some celebrate the season by enjoying the foliage and pumpkin patches, we pay tribute to data security education and recognize October as  Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Since its inception in 2001, Cybersecurity Awareness Month has grown tremendously, reaching consumers, businesses, and educational institutions across the country. 

This year, the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) are promoting the theme, “See Yourself in Cyber.”  Focusing on four key behaviors: 1) enabling multi-factor authentication; 2) using strong passwords and a password manager; 3) updating software, and 4) recognizing and reporting phishing, organizations are encouraged to take a risk-based approach and focus on the most important behaviors to their business.

In an increasingly digital world, it is more critical than ever that organizations take cybersecurity precautions such as enabling multi-factor authentication and using strong passwords and password managers. However, these actions alone are not enough. Today’s hackers are overcoming those standard security efforts. 

According to Verizon’s latest Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), “there are four key paths leading to your estate: credentials, phishing, exploiting vulnerabilities, and botnets. All four are pervasive in all areas of the DBIR, and no organization is safe without a plan to handle each of them.” At 50% of breaches, credentials represent the most significant opportunity for hackers.

To fully protect your sensitive data, we recommend five best practices:

  • Enable dedicated protection for sensitive data

Encryption is a well-known and widely adopted data protection technique. However, conventional data encryption has flaws and limitations because it is often dependent on linking the decryption process to Identity and Access Management (IAM) or central key stores, rendering the protection far less effective in safeguarding sensitive data. Fortunately, there is an industry-disrupting solution to this problem. With multifactor encryption, advanced distributed key management is combined with the proven security concept of multifactor authentication. By securing data through multifactor encryption, organizations are better-protected thanks to its ability to securely encrypt dedicated files and ensure they are decrypted by authorized users only.

  • Mitigate 3rd party file sharing security risks 

File sharing is a risky channel for data loss. The good news is that most email-based data loss incidents are not due to active malicious behavior by employees. A significant portion of data loss risks can be managed with email-based encrypted file sharing. Encrypted file-sharing provides end-to-end encryption, which means the sensitive files are secured at all times. With end-to-end encryption, even the email service provider doesn’t have the decryption key. This level of security mitigates email-based data loss and data exposure risks. End-to-end encryption with secure file transfer is an important best practice for protecting data in motion and ensuring it’s only read by the intended recipient.

  • Understand encrypted file usage trends

Being aware of your usage trends is critical. Logging detailed user activity and aggregating it at the admin level provides a better understanding of individual usage and overall usage trends emerge. Multifactor encryption solutions can automatically create customized alerts and deliver notifications with detailed user file interaction. This logged detail can be fed directly into existing SIEMs and SOCs for greater security intelligence. Analysis of encryption status and usage of data is a crucial step and an essential practice as it improves compliance, business reporting requirements, and operational decision-making.

  • Identify, classify, and protect data

Data classification is a crucial component of any organization’s security policy, but there is no simple or standard solution to protect your data regardless of location. While there are tools that can automatically identify and classify data, organizations need to go further and integrate these solutions with other security products that work together to ensure data is protected. For example, the pairing of data discovery and classification with multifactor encryption. Once a data discovery and classification tool have identified files, they can be labeled in accordance with policy. A multifactor encryption solution can then automatically encrypt the files based on their classification labels. Coupling tools for the discovery of at-risk information and encryption instantly protects the information and helps you to stay ahead of shifts in the modern threat landscape. 

  • Balance data security and data accessibility

Be mindful of your company's ultimate goals and objectives to create an airtight organization that is safe and secure from breaches and bad actors. You do not want to restrict access so much that you end up slowing down the business. Striking the right balance is essential. To do this, consider a decentralized multifactor approach to cryptographic key management that will protect your organization from data exfiltration. Multifactor encryption removes the conventional trade-off between data security and accessibility to protect data. Ultimately it gives security practitioners the ability to realize true data protection without impeding business performance. 

For more information about how to protect your data with multifactor encryption contact Atakama today. 

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