How does data exfiltration happen?

Data exfiltration or data theft can significantly impact your business, leading to revenue and reputation loss and making your systems more vulnerable than before.

But how does data exfiltration happen? What are the most common attacks that lead to it?

1️⃣ Social engineering attacks

You may be familiar with the concept of phishing, which is the most common social engineering attack, though not the only one.

These attacks have one thing in common: they exploit human psychology, manipulating people and making them compromise their own or the company’s security.

They’ll usually convince a person to download something or click on a link and insert sensitive data. In doing so, the person is downloading malware or handing over login credentials to a malicious party.

Social engineering attacks are not sophisticated, but they may be harder to protect against, as no matter how much you educate your employees or customers, someone may still fall prey to such an attack.

2️⃣ Vulnerability exploits

As you may have guessed from their name, these attacks exploit a vulnerability in your system.

They can have a high success rate, as some attacks, like zero-day exploits, will take advantage of vulnerabilities before software or device vendors even know they exist.

3️⃣ AI-powered data exfiltration techniques

The rise of AI meant more and improved cybersecurity solutions, but also more sophisticated attacks. For instance, the use of deep fake and AI-generated content makes it easier to impersonate someone, facilitating phishing attacks.

Someone could create a deep fake video of the head of the accounting department requesting all employees to send their updated bank information to get paid.

Even the most cybersecurity-aware individuals might have a hard time spotting the video is fake and they might send the data to the malicious party.

4️⃣ Model manipulation

This type of attack takes advantage of the use of AI models and targets their decision-making process, exploiting vulnerabilities, or manipulating it to force it to reveal sensitive data.

Next time, we’ll talk about how to protect yourself against these attacks to minimize the risk of losing data to exfiltration.

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