Data Theft. PHOTO: Cybercrime Magazine.

Data Is A Form Of Currency For Hackers

It’s more important than ever to protect against theft

Gil Friedrich

New York City, N.Y. – Apr. 12, 2021

Every day, companies are sharing scores of valuable data. Think about it for a moment. How often have you shared data, of any form, on a cloud-based app? For most employees, the answer is a lot. In certain industries, the answer can be even more.

They’re sending budgetary information by email. They’re following up with account information on Slack or Microsoft Teams. They’re sharing files with sensitive data on Dropbox, Google Drive, or Box. For some industries, particularly the medical sector, that information can be incredibly personal.

Sending data around like that is essential for many business processes. It’s why every company does it. It informs better decision-making, and with the sheer amount of cloud-based apps in use, those processes can now be done exponentially faster. That’s great. But it opens the door for hackers to steal that data and run wild with it. That’s because data is a form of currency for hackers. Every piece of data is valuable, and some of it incredibly so. Patient medical records, for example, can go for as much as 50 times more than personal financial information on the black market.

As more data becomes available to be hacked, it’s becoming a cottage industry. In 2020, the average cost of a data breach was $3.86 million, according to data from IBM and the Ponemon Institute. Though that’s down 1.5 percent from 2019, it’s still up 10 percent over the last five years.

So it goes without saying: You need to protect your company’s data. You need to protect your customer’s data. Breaches are incredibly damaging, both financially and in terms of consumer confidence. Even for big companies, a breach can be devastating.

The question, then, is this: How do you protect against data leakage?

You need a comprehensive solution.

In order to best protect against data leakage and breaches, you need a flexible solution, one that creates and automates policies across multiple cloud applications. That means you can control how files are shared, both within the company and with external partners. That starts with being able to not only identify but also mark files that contain confidential, financial, and personally identifiable information.

A solid solution also needs to be granular, whereby individual files or folders have different policies depending on the sensitivity. It needs to follow the file once it’s been shared, even if it’s left the organization, thereby preventing unauthorized access when necessary.

This should extend to collaboration apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams, which can be sieves of data. On those platforms, sensitive information can easily be shared and forwarded outside the organization. An Avanan analysis found that medical personnel, in particular, freely share sensitive information on Teams in ways that they do not on email. Having tools that detect leaks on these platforms is critical. Even better is the ability to provide on-the-fly help, whereby a bot will ask, “Did you mean to share this information?”

Some industries require more stringent data protection to comply with regulations. Can your solution detect HIPPA violations? Can it detect PCI violations? If it can’t, and you’re in an organization that deals with that data, then a new solution is needed.

Companies face two problems with data leakage. One is the accidental share. A harried employee might share sensitive information with the wrong person without even realizing it. Second is being hacked and having that data released. Both are damaging. Both are costly. Both can sink consumer trust.

A powerful solution that can guard against either of these forms of leakage is essential.

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Gil Friedrich is co-founder and CEO at Avanan.

About Avanan 

Avanan is a cloud email security platform that pioneered and patented a new approach to prevent sophisticated attacks. We use APIs to scan for phishing, malware, and data leakage in the line of communications traffic. This means we catch threats missed by Microsoft while adding a transparent layer of security for the entire suite and other collaboration tools like Slack.

Avanan catches the advanced attacks that evade default and advanced security tools. Its invisible, multi-layer security enables full-suite protection for cloud collaboration solutions such as Office 365™, G-Suite™, and Slack™.  The platform deploys in one click via API to prevent Business Email Compromise and block phishing, malware, data leakage, account takeover, and shadow IT across the enterprise. Avanan replaces the need for multiple tools to secure the entire cloud collaboration suite, with a patented solution that goes far beyond any other Cloud Email Security Supplement.