Data Exfiltration: Public Enemy No. 1 for the Public Sector

vitacopS/istockphoto.com

Taking a proactive approach is a critical step in improving the way the government combats threats.

One in three cyber incidents strike the public sector and 19% of ransomware attacks perpetrated on government agencies remain undiscovered for years after the initial attack, according to recent BlackFog research. U.S. government agencies are a prime target for cyberattacks—but this is nothing new.

Cybersecurity is arguably the most pressing issue facing the government today and looking to the future. With destructive attacks on the government like the Office of Personnel Management, Sol Oriens, SolarWinds and more, it’s clear that improving public sector security systems is critical to maintain the integrity of sensitive, mission-critical information and uphold our national security. But of the attacks that have targeted the government, ransomware has surged, with a 21% increase in August alone as agencies kicked off federal buying season. And of all of the attacks, 81% now threaten to exfiltrate data.

The reason the government continues to be targeted by cybercriminals is no secret: the amount of highly sensitive information agencies store is a literal goldmine for cybercriminals. With a shortage of qualified cybersecurity workers, lack of consistent funding and current investments in tools that require a knowledgeable workforce to run them, agencies are missing critical pieces of the puzzle to actually protect themselves against cyberattacks.

The good news is the government is finally waking up to the issue at hand with President Joe Biden signing an executive order aimed at hardening the federal government's cybersecurity defenses. But the bottom line is there is more work to be done.

Switching Gears to a Proactive Approach

Taking a proactive approach is a critical step in improving the way the government combats threats. Within the public sector, the common approach to security has historically been very reactive and based on defensive strategies. Consider this: if you were at war and an army was standing in front of you and you knew the perimeter was well defended with significant artillery, would you attack head-on? Probably not. The same concept applies to cybersecurity.      Ninety-nine percent of existing cybersecurity tools focus on preventing attacks the same way. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are well aware of this and are able to get around these defenses relatively easily. Existing antivirus software, for example, is trivial to bypass using the latest polymorphic code deployed by most cybercriminals.

The best course of action would be to surprise the army by using multiple approaches, bypassing the perimeter defense by looking for other weaknesses, and using trojan horse techniques. With this approach, you assume an attack is inevitable and instead of waiting for the enemy to fire first, you take other precautions to ensure the attack is unsuccessful. In the cyber realm, this type of proactive approach is critical as it not only prevents adversaries from acquiring and releasing sensitive information but enables the government to prevent attackers from getting a foothold in the first place.

A Path Forward

So how does the government get proactive in its approach to prevent cyber criminals from launching successful attacks? The answer is easier said than done, but the adoption of these three best practices will help protect and prevent the public sector from being an easy target for cybercriminals. 

  • Push for new funding: Funding challenges often limit the government’s ability to secure its networks against cyber adversaries. In order to succeed in protecting sensitive information, funds must be available to not only support their efforts but also invest in more advanced technology, hire better talent, conduct research on current and potential threats and more.
  • Embrace new technologies: With the increase in attacks, it’s clear the current systems in place are no longer sufficient to secure federal agencies. Enhancing protection against these threats can turn the tables on cybercriminals entirely. With an increase in data exfiltration, implementing anti-data exfiltration technology can stop the unauthorized removal of any data from the systems being exploited and effectively disable the attack and associated data theft extortion. In addition, with a rise in ransomware, better backup systems must be in place to ensure where the data is being stored is secured. The right solution should include all recovery mechanisms including backup, replication, storage snapshots and 24/7 data protection.
  • Focus on attracting top talent: With approximately three million cybersecurity jobs globally remaining unfilled this year, and 56% of cybersecurity professionals saying that staff shortages are placing their organizations at moderate or extreme risk, there is a clear need for the government to secure top talent in cybersecurity. Not only is this key to having a workforce skilled enough to detect and prevent attacks, but it’s also crucial to ensure public sector entities are able to successfully navigate and operate the tools they set in place to secure their sensitive information. 

At the end of the day, improved cybersecurity can and must be a priority for the U.S. government. The right techniques, tools and partners can ensure that we’re not only able to overwhelm the enemy on the physical battlefield, but in the cyber realm as well.  

Darren Williams is chief executive officer at BlackFog.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.