• Evolving Ransomware Tactics Make Data Exfiltration a Top Security Concern

Safeguarding your data is a critical aspect of your cyber risk management strategy and requires a high level of preparedness for events like data breaches. Breaches may still occur despite employing top-tier cybersecurity measures, as cybercriminals are financially motivated to find a way in, leading to cybercriminals attempting to steal your community bank’s sensitive data and holding it for ransom. This can result in stolen information being exposed publicly or sold on the dark web for malicious purposes, known as data exfiltration.

Data exfiltration has been emerging as a commonly used tactic; as an example 77% of ransomware attacks involve data exfiltration. While stopping cybercriminals from infiltrating your network is important, preventing them from exfiltrating any valuable data once they’ve gained access is even more crucial

In this blog, we will explore data exfiltration, the techniques cybercriminals use to execute it, and effective methods to minimize the damage it can cause to community banks.

What is Data Exfiltration?

Data exfiltration represents a particularly disruptive form of data theft where digital information is illegally transferred, duplicated, or removed from a community bank’s environment. Ransomware attackers behind these acts either distribute the stolen information publicly to extort money or sell it on underground markets like the dark web.

This emerging trend goes hand-in-hand with extortion and double extortion tactics, where cybercriminals demand a ransom for decrypting data and threaten to leak sensitive information if their demands are unmet.

Contrary to the common use of encryption to lock data and demand a ransom for the decryption key, cybercriminals are now bypassing encryption altogether. Instead, they focus on outright data theft, threatening to release or publicize the stolen information unless a ransom is paid. This shift in strategy shows how the mere acquisition of sensitive data can be as damaging—if not more so—as encryption-based ransomware attacks.

The ramifications of data exfiltration extend far beyond immediate financial losses. Compromised data can disrupt the operations of a community bank, jeopardizing everything from day-to-day activities to long-term strategic goals. The potential reputational damage can be devastating, as a breached community bank may struggle to regain the trust of customers, partners, and stakeholders.

How Do Cybercriminals Exfiltrate Data?

One of the primary reasons cybercriminals successfully access and exfiltrate data is social engineering. Cybercriminals can gain initial entry by deceiving users into disclosing confidential information or unknowingly installing malicious software. Once the malware infects the target system, it establishes a shell connection with the compromised computer. This connection acts as a covert communication channel, enabling the cybercriminal to interact directly with the system’s operating environment.

After successfully establishing a foothold, cybercriminals can command the infected computer to begin transferring its data to the cybercriminal’s server. The data transfer is called “data exfiltration” and is executed to avoid detection. Cybercriminals demonstrate caution by imposing size constraints on the data packets being exfiltrated, minimizing the risk of triggering security alarms.

Detecting and Preventing Data Exfiltration

Ransomware can strike without warning, leaving community banks to mitigate the fallout. However, taking a proactive approach can significantly reduce the damage and increase your chances of a quick recovery. Here are solutions on how to minimize the impact of a ransomware attack and how Adlumin can help:

  • Security Awareness Training: Educate users on recognizing phishing scams, remote work best practices, password hygiene, personal device use, and proper handling of company data to reduce risk. Training should be conducted beyond the traditional once-a-year approach to ensure continuous learning and adaptation to evolving threats. It’s also crucial to identify higher-risk users who may require additional, targeted training to address their specific vulnerabilities and enhance their security awareness.
  • Threat Detection and Response: Use technologies that continuously monitor and analyze network traffic and user activity and ingest telemetry across your environment to detect potential threats. By applying behavior analytics and automated response actions, these systems enable security teams to quickly identify and respond to threats in real-time with minimal manual intervention.
  • Ransomware and Exfiltration Prevention: Adlumin’s Ransomware and Exfiltration Prevention focuses on detecting and halting data exfiltration activities to prevent ransomware attacks early, offering:
    • Early Threat Detection: Provides early ransomware warnings to enable prompt action before significant damage.
    • Process Chain Disruption: Stops exfiltration activities, preventing both data theft and ransomware deployment.
    • Comprehensive Coverage: Protects against a wide range of exfiltration methods.
    • Ease of Integration: Enhances existing security infrastructure without disrupting operations.

Most ransomware and exfiltration prevention solutions stop at isolating the compromised host, alerting you that a cybercriminal is exfiltrating or encrypting your data. While this is helpful, it’s not always enough. The key question remains: How much data have you already lost?

Adlumin’s Ransomware and Exfiltration Prevention addresses this concern head-on by terminating the exfiltration and encryption processes as soon as they are detected. This immediate action drastically reduces the amount of data a cybercriminal can access. By the time the host is isolated, the damage has been minimized, if not entirely prevented, taking exfiltration and encryption prevention to the next level.

Ransomware Resilience for Community Banks

In any type of ransomware attack, embracing a proactive, multi-layered defense strategy will go a long way in limiting damage. With early detection systems, decoy files, and rapid response protocols, you can minimize ransomware damage. This approach disrupts the attacker’s efforts and ensures your data remains as secure as possible. Remember, the key is to detect and isolate, minimize data loss, and recover quickly. By integrating these proactive measures, you’re setting your community bank up for resilience against ransomware threats.

Stop Encryption and Secure Your Files

Protect your community bank with Adlumin’s Ransomware and Exfiltration Prevention capabilities. Act now to secure your files and safeguard your financial and business integrity. To learn more, request a demo.