When we first hear the term sensitive data exposure the first thing which comes to our mind is sensitive data being exposed in some unauthenticated/untrusted source.
It occurs when an organization unknowingly exposes sensitive data or when a security incident leads to the accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alteration, or unauthorized disclosure of, or access to sensitive data. Such Data exposure may occur as a result of inadequate protection of a database.
But what is sensitive data?
Sensitive data is any information that is meant to be protected from unauthorized access. Sensitive data can include anything from personally identifiable information, such as Social Security numbers, to banking information, to login credentials. When this data is accessed by an attacker as a result of a data breach, users are at risk of sensitive data exposure. Data breaches that result in the exposure of sensitive credentials can come with costs in the millions of dollars, destroying a company’s reputation along with it. During the 21st century, the use of mobile devices has increased internet usage dramatically. As a result, banks, hospitals, retail, and many other industries have made it their mission to create a user-friendly and secure online presence, with the help of threatscan, a product developed by cyber security hive and has successfully kept them safe from sensitive data exposure. With ThreatScan’s automated engine and fully managed manual penetration test, we test over 120+ different checklists and additional checks designed for your web application. ThreatScan is considered to be one of the best penetration testing as a service platform in the industry.
Sensitive Data Exposure can be of following types
A breach of confidentiality occurs when proprietary records or statistics relating to your organization or your customers are disclosed to a third party without consent. Privacy breaches happen every day at businesses across the country. There may be a breach in which an alternate key is shared with a competitor, an employee’s personal statistics are leaked, or customers suffer the effects of negligent privacy practices.
Integrity breach occurs when an attacker obtains permission to access sensitive data which can be modified or deleted by him.
It occurs when organizations fail to make sure that applications and data are available and accessible to authorized users when they need them.
Example of Sensitive Data Exposure in Workplace
DISCLOSURE OF EMPLOYEES’ PERSONAL INFORMATION
Disclosure of personal information of employees can also harm the organization. Such information may include credit score, social safety numbers, and training history. Employers are prohibited from disclosing their information in their personnel without previous authorization. Failure to hold these facts exclusive may also represent a breach of confidentiality.
CLIENT INFORMATION IS OBTAINED BY THIRD PARTIES
Data breach’s target companies and people everywhere in the globe. And unfortunately, such attacks have best elevated with the growing recognition of social media. Hackers use emails, messages, and on-line commercials to get entry to non-public records together with social protection numbers, credit card records, or account passwords. Security measures, cyber security training, and administrative centre could save you from data breach. Any organization now lacking online protection is vulnerable to sensitive data exposure.
Methods Used by Hackers to Expose Sensitive Data
Data in transit
It is any kind of data that is sends from one network to another. This includes communication between resources within your workload as well as communication between other services and your end users. By providing appropriate measures to protect the data in transit you can save yourself from sensitive data exposure.
Data at rest
Data at rest represents any data that you keep in non-volatile storage in your organization. This includes block storage, object storage, databases, archives, IoT devices, and any other storage medium. Protecting your data at rest reduces the risk of unauthorized access, when encryption and appropriate access controls are implemented.
Attacks that Exposes Sensitive Data
There are different types of application attacks that can expose sensitive data. These include:
SQL Injection Attacks
SQL injection attacks are the most common type of attack that is performed by an attacker. It is also on the OWASP top 10 list due to its high impact. During an SQL injection attack the attacker injects malicious SQL codes for database manipulation for accessing the confidential information which was not intended to be accessed. This information’s can include sensitive company data, private customer details and bank account details of the customers. If the server doesn’t have a tough line of defense, then it’s very hard for the company to survive such kinds of attacks.
Ifa network is compromised, there is a risk thatalldatawill be exposed. It can only be possible if attacker maintains a constant as well as silent approach. One example of such kind of attack is session hijacking attack. Session is created when the user gets logged in and the user gets a session-id. If the attacker can gain the cookies which contains the login session-id then it can be easily exploited if server’s defense management is not up to the mark.
Broken Access Control Attacks
Application has certain limits which certain users are only authorized to perform. Let’s understand it with an example, assume that you have the free version of Spotify but use can access the features of Spotify paid version this happened because the access control is not properly implements and verified by the server.
Ransomware is the type of malware that encrypts the data or the whole system and claims to decrypt it only when the user agrees to pay a sum of money to the attacker. They are often deployed in your system via an attachment or link which users believe came from a trusted source, and when they click on the link the data is encrypted via a key which the attackers hold. Since the attacker has all the data, he can harm the organization at any time he pleases.
Phishing is a type of social engineering attack where the attacker sends message which looks genuine but it is designed to trick the person into revealing their personal data or deploy ransomware into their system. Organizations should ensure two factor authentications and also provide security awareness training to help people make aware of such kinds of attacks.
Insider Threat Attacks
Insider threats are a danger that all agencies face because they frequently change their employees. Anyone within the employer who has access to sensitive details can initiate a record violation, break in and steal unauthorized information. This misuse of access is common and goes unnoticed, as organizations spends most of the time thinking the attack took place from any external source rather than their internal source and the organization spend very little time building defense against such kinds of attacks.
Avoiding a Sensitive Data Exposure
In order to defend their customer’s data, groups want to make certain they maintain tracks of all the statistics stored within their systems. This will provide them a clear photo of owners, locations, and safety and governance measures enabled on the data.
Assess Risks Associated to Data
To protect data, organizations must have a clear understanding of data risks and allocate budgets and resources accordingly for risk mitigation activities. The more sensitive the data, the greater the risk of damage. Even a small amount of sensitive data can have a major impact on data subjects.
Appropriate security controls
Organizations should implement adequate security controls to prevent sensitive data exposures from occurring and to limit their impact on data.
Organizations must have an effective security breach response mechanism in place to respond immediately to disclosures of sensitive data. Most data breaches are the result of weak application security. Credentials should be the top priority during development, but legacy security testing requires time and resources. After the test, a certified expert review’s the results and decides which vulnerabilities in the application need to be patched.
Assessment/POC of Sensitive Data Exposure
One of the first steps to avoid sensitive data exposure is based on a thorough application security assessment. Using a proof-of-concept (POC) exploit, cybersecurity teams stage an attack to prove it can be done. When security teams discover weaknesses, they should also compare the vulnerability to the exploit to see if it’s worth spending the time, money, and energy to mitigate them. The high costs of a potential breach make security important, but with fast release dates pushed to developers, security is often low on the priority list.
Penetration testing gives security teams a better idea of the types of vulnerabilities an application is exposed to. A penetration test is a simulated attack. Since it is started manually, some kind of planning is needed before running. While a penetration test provides insight into an application’s defenses, a highly trained expert is needed to run it, and the results lack risk context and priority. In addition, application security experts take valuable time to analyze the results. In addition to these problems, penetration testing occurs a lot in the development process, which increases costs considerably. And by relying on a signature-based engine, penetration testing tools are meant to miss real vulnerabilities (false negatives). All of this breaks development cycles and leaves development and security teams frustrated.
Web Application Firewalls (WAFs)
Perimeter defence Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) also take an external security approach. WAFs have been in use for two decades. Setup and implementation take time and present even greater challenges for ongoing optimization and management. All this time requires significant resources. Additionally, because WAFs rely on signature-based engines and detect all attack probes rather than those that can exploit an actual vulnerability, WAFs produce a large number of security alerts. The resulting PDF reports take a lot of time for security operations (SecOps) teams to sort through and diagnose. Often there are so many alerts that SecOps teams develop alert fatigue and miss the real vulnerabilities.
Do you want to mitigate sensitive data exposure attacks? Threatscan, a product developed by cyber security hive and has successfully kept many organisations safe from sensitive data exposure. With ThreatScan’s automated engine and fully manual managed penetration test, we test over 120+ different checklists and additional checks designed for your web application. ThreatScan is considered to be one of the best penetration testing as a service platform in the industry.