Data leakage is the unauthorized transmission of confidential data from within a company to an external recipient or destination, commonly via the web and email. Still, it can also happen via mobile data storage devices such as USB keys and laptops.
It has become one of the most common and severe threats to companies and their businesses. Hardly a day passes without a news headline highlighting a breach of an organization's confidential data. Worse still, a majority of such incidences have led to dramatic consequences. In particular, brand reputational damage, mind-boggling financial fines, and crippling lawsuits.
What can an organization or website owner do to contain such a risk? In this piece of Jscrambler's learning hub, we explore what this security breach entails and the ABCs surrounding it. Lastly, we dive into what can be done to minimize its occurrence.
What is data leakage?
From an expert's point of view, this term refers to the leakage of confidential and sensitive information to unauthorized parties.
The Accidental Breach
The event can accidentally occur when a company fails to take sufficient security measures, exposing its data to cybercriminals.
The Intentional Breach
The event can also happen intentionally when company employees leak confidential information to attract outside attention. An excellent example is the case of the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook data scandals.
A cybersecurity attacker can also use a security blindspot generated by a complex supply chain on a website to grab client data. Often, such a thing happens due to the extensive presence of third-party pieces of code on most websites tasked with implementing the different essential functions.
What are the consequences of Data Leakage?
Data Leakage, or data breaches, have several effects, including:
Damage the brand's reputation
Cause customer losses.
Damage and corrupt databases.
Legal and compliance consequences
Loss of privacy, including identity theft.
Loss of sensitive personal details
Firstly, data leakage can lead to the loss of sensitive personal details, such as a client's private health information, social security numbers, and credit card specifics.
Therefore, the victims can lose their privacy, as in the case of Aadhaar's data breach. Besides, monetary losses can be incurred if a cyber-attacker succeeds in cracking their bank records or blackmailing them into paying some fee.
Next is reputational damage to affected brands.
Clients entrust businesses with their details when filling out online forms on their associated websites. Thus, a data leakage incident can leave a bad taste in their mouth.
In retaliation, the customers can spread prejudicial word of mouth about the distressed organizations, such as their lack of sufficient security measures. And in worst-case scenarios, such situations can lead to a massive client exit.
Legal and compliance consequences
Finally, a data leak can lead to lawsuits, heavy financial penalties, and compliance troubles.
Clients can sue a company for negligence and the damages incurred due to the data leakage. Prominent examples include the £18.4 million and £20 million data leakage fines imposed by the ICO (Information Commissioner's Office in the UK) on Marriott International and British Airways.
As such, a business must treat a data leakage risk with the seriousness it deserves. If ignored, it can damage the organization from a financial point of view or, even worse, lead to its demise.
Types of Data Leakage
Organizations and individual website owners should be alert to the different types of data leakages.
A data leak and a data breach can have critical consequences, and they are typically used as synonyms. However, a data leak implies more negligence than a data breach, typically resulting from internal threats.
Malware-orchestrated data leaks: Some of these result from particular malicious programs that target browser or website vulnerabilities to steal information. An example is the iframe injector, which injects iframe tags into a website to embed interactive elements. That said, malware can cause data breaches.
The Disgruntled or Ill-Intentioned Employee
Ill-Intentional employee data leaks occur when a malicious or disappointed worker leaks confidential data even after signing a non-disclosure agreement. This type of data leakage is often called data exfiltration.
The leading causes include personal grievances, in-house disagreements, or substantial payoffs from cyber attackers.
Accidental exposure and data breaches can happen due to systematic failures or human error. For instance, a worker unintentionally sends confidential information to the wrong client, leading to a data violation.
Losing flash drivers and documents
Last but not least, the loss of critical customer records to unauthorized parties can lead to data leakage. Also, a USB flash drive can be the weakest link in a company’s data security chain. This is particularly true when an employee loses the USB flash drive.
Wrong actors can use information from misplaced assets to commit financial fraud, among other actions.
Examples of Data leakage
Real-life data leakage examples include:
The Codecov data breach;
Formjacker or skimmer data attacks; and
The ransomware attack, or Impresa.
The Codecov data breach
The successful June 2021 penetration of the most sought-after code coverage tool, Codecov, by cybercriminals, left several casualties in its wake. A good example is the case of the E-commerce giant Mercari, in which the actors used the opportunity to exfiltrate sensitive customer details, such as financial records.
Other affected businesses include Rapid7, a U.S. cybersecurity company, and Monday.com, a workflow management platform.
Formjacker or skimmer data attacks
In this case, the malicious actors used a video player to falsely obtain credit card information from over a hundred real estate websites.
They injected malicious scripts, also known as skimmers, into a cloud-based video player used by well-known businesses to steal customer details entered in website forms.
The ransomware attack, or Impresa
The attack on this well-known Portuguese media company happened during the 2022 New Year's holiday. The ransomware affected online streaming services and websites, leaving them flat-footed.
Lapsus$, an unfamiliar ransomware gang, was behind the attack.
How to prevent Data leakage
To prevent data leakage, a company or website owner can implement the strategies we give below. These are complementary strategies.
Provide comprehensive coverage of data that goes in and out of their websites.
In this context, an organization or website owner must monitor every script's activity in real-time to identify their unique behaviors. In addition, they can create an inventory of what each code sends out, to whom, and at what specific time.
Doing so enables visibility, so the firm can quickly respond to any data leakage threat vector.
Integrate protective measures in their source code.
Similarly, a company can up its game by incorporating security measures at the primary level by infusing state-of-the-art runtime protection and obfuscation capacities or actions that can prevent data loss, as endorsed by NIST and OWASP.
Adequate protective considerations can enable the control of third-party script activities on a website. In particular, curtail suspicious code from operating and, more importantly, prevent it from leaking sensitive client data.
Implement a proactive security approach.
Another way to prevent data leakage is by applying oversight measures that can bring order to how data is transacted.
Such enactment includes enacting appropriate policies to ensure each third party complies with the stipulated data protection standards. This prevents data leaks at their initial stages, despite the attack vectors.
The Data Leakage prevention tool
With this, firms and website owners must invest in data leakage prevention tools from reputable cybersecurity technology organizations to bolster their website security.
Jscrambler provides website protection services for Data Leakage Prevention.
The leading client-side security option also provides application shielding code with multiple protections. Prevent malicious data exfiltration, tampering, and reverse engineering, among others. Explore the Jscrambler partner ecosystem and ask for your demo.
How Jcrambler can help you
Prevent malicious data exfiltration, tampering, and reverse engineering