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5 Critical Steps to Identifying and Remediating Exfiltration Paths

Summary. Cybersecurity risks continue to rise, further increasing the severity of long-term impacts.  

The latest IBM Data Breach Report revealed 82% of breaches involved data stored in the cloud—public, private, or multiple environments, with attackers gaining access to multiple environments 39% of the time. In 2023, the average cost of a data breach reached an all-time high of USD 4.45 million, representing a 15.3% increase (from USD 3.86 million) in 2020.   

It is clear that in today’s interconnected and digital age, safeguarding sensitive information is of paramount importance for any organization. Data breaches not only cause significant financial loss but can also erode the trust of customers and stakeholders. One critical threat an organization faces is ‘data exfiltration’—the unauthorized transfer of data from within an organization to an external location. 

In this article, we’ll explore the concern exfiltration paths cause and important steps you can take to identify and mitigate them. 

Understanding Exfiltration Paths 

Exfiltration paths are like hidden backdoors that malicious actors use to smuggle out sensitive information. These paths can often exploit various vulnerabilities in an organization’s network, be it misconfigured devices, neglected access controls, or compromised endpoints.  

The consequences of overlooking these paths are substantial:  

  • Loss of sensitive data: This can include everything from proprietary business information to customer data.  
    • In March, 1.2% of ChatGPT subscribers’ payment-related and personal information were exposed during an outage. While the actual number of people exposed in the breach was “extremely low” according to OpenAI, the breach exposed a number of areas requiring immediate improvement to ensure safety of subscribers. 
  • Reputation damage: Data breaches can significantly harm an organization’s reputation, leading to a loss of trust. 
    • According to Forbes, nearly half of all organizations that suffer data breaches also suffer damage to their brand – the report identifies data loss as the “fourth most common threat to reputation.” 
  • Financial repercussions: This encompasses both direct losses and potential fines from regulatory bodies. 
    • IBM found the average cost of a data breach reached an all-time high in 2023 of $4.45 million, while the number is more than double in the U.S., averaging $9.44 million.  

Safeguarding Data, Reputation, and the Future   

Designed to provide a detailed and holistic view of an organization’s entire network—including all devices, access paths, and potential vulnerabilities, RedSeal’s platform has helped hundreds of organizations gain an understanding of potential exfiltration paths while identifying and sealing off pathways.  

By the time a breach is detected, the damage is often done. It is almost always less expensive to stop an attack before it starts than to remediate. With tools like RedSeal, organizations can transition from defensive to proactive security.  

5 Steps your organizations can take to identify exfiltration paths: 

  1. Comprehensive network modeling: RedSeal creates a detailed, up-to-date model of an organization’s entire network. By doing so, it highlights all potential data flow paths, including those that might be unintentionally left open or overlooked. 
  2. Visual representation of exfiltration paths: One of RedSeal’s standout features is its ability to visually represent every possible path out of a network, providing IT teams with a clear and intuitive view of how data might be siphoned out to better recognize and address vulnerabilities. 
  3. Highlighting vulnerable access points: Using its sophisticated analytics, RedSeal can pinpoint devices or access points within the network that are susceptible to breaches or have misconfigured settings, allowing for potential data exfiltration. 
  4. Prioritization based on risk: Not all vulnerabilities are equal. RedSeal’s platform ranks potential exfiltration paths based on risk, allowing prioritization of response and patching strategies. 
  5. Simulating attack paths: RedSeal can simulate potential attack vectors, allowing organizations to proactively understand and counteract the strategies that malicious actors might employ.

Understanding potential exfiltration paths is not just a cybersecurity best practice—it’s an organizational imperative. With threats growing in sophistication and number, tools like RedSeal are no longer optional but a necessity. By identifying and sealing off these potential exfiltration pathways, businesses can safeguard their data, reputation, and future.