Data is the most precious asset for any organization. Data can be of various types, and different types of data can have different priorities for different organizations and firms. But there are multiple ways the data can get leaked, and cybercriminals may sell them over the darknet or misuse these leaked sensitive data. In this chapter, you will learn about the different ways of how data leaks take place and what are the possible measures security professionals must take to prevent them.

What Is Data Leakage?

Data leakage can be defined as the malicious practice of transmitting data in an unauthorized manner to an external agent, destination, or recipient with bad intention. Data leakage can be done by any internal organization's employee or any other person. They will misuse web services, email services, cloud services, optical media, USB keys, and laptops. It is also termed as "data theft - the slow and low approach," which creates a massive problem in the data security industry.

Possible Types of Data Leakage

The problem of data leakage and its way needs to be understood by security professionals to tackle it. Such types of problems can get initiated by internal or external means. So, security professionals need to take protective measures to prevent corporate data. Different types of data leakage approaches are -

  • Ill-intentional or malicious internal employees: Data leakages are not only done using online mediums, electronic communication and services, and emails. A vast majority of such crimes are done by someone who is someone internal member of the organization who has ill intentions or plans or who might sell the internal organization's data to third-party or rival ventures. Such type of data leakage is termed as data exfiltration.
  • Accidental data breach: Sometimes, unauthorized data leakages may happen accidentally without any malicious intention or purpose. External agents, i.e., cybercriminals, do many data leakages. Examples of some internal unintentional data leakages are supposed when an internal employee sends a message, he or she may wrongly type a wrong ID or recipient name while sending the email.
  • Malicious intent in Electronic communication: Various firms and organizations allow access to instant messaging services, chat rooms, cloud, and other social networking sites as a part o their daily role. But the problem is, these platforms and services residing over the internet are capable of transferring files. Cybercriminals target these services and such employees with malware or malicious links. The employee might open these links, which will let the malware come to your system by a drive-by-download mechanism. This may now periodically keep sending sensitive information to the cybercriminal remotely, who is residing on the other side of the globe. These types of data leakage programs work in the background without letting users know about their existence.
  • Physical data leakage: Data leakage may also be possible if any ill intentional employee steals or overlook any information or act as a legitimate user and access to the system for stealing (using flash drives) or uploading any file on cloud storage just by lending their system for a few minutes. The possibilities are endless.

Data Leakage Pretension Measures

Such kinds of threats are real and need adequate actions to protect this data from getting leaked. Data leakage pretension is a mechanism or strategy practiced in organizations and firms to ensure employees or end users do not intentionally or unintentionally share and send sensitive or critical data outside the corporate network. Usually, network administrators collaborate with security professionals to plug or incorporate DLP software or programs in their network by planting specific policies and the organization's rules for classifying and protecting confidential and critical internal data. Another way to protect this data leakage technique (especially physical leakage) is to use security cams in appropriate locations within the corporate campus.

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