Why Cloud DLP?

In today's data-centric environment, organizations are moving to the cloud to cut down infrastructure expenses and concentrate only on their organization tasks thus empowering them to build powerful applications catering to their customers.

When organizations migrate to the cloud, their entire infrastructure is stored on the cloud. The organization's infrastructure moving to the cloud implies that its sensitive data is also stored in the cloud. Sensitive information being stored in the cloud is becoming a normal phenomenon.

A Cloud security survey conducted by Thales on 3000 IT professionals across 18 countries revealed eye-opening facts. A whopping 75% of respondents said that around 40% of their data stored in the cloud is sensitive. With Cloud being the go-to option for modern businesses, the amount of sensitive information moving to the cloud will only increase in the coming years.

So, What's the Harm of Sensitive Data Residing in the Cloud?

The sensitive data stored on the cloud can either belong to the organization itself or it can be the customer's data required for business purposes. If this sensitive data is lost or even exposed to unauthorized users the consequences can be fatal for organizations and their customers. It's the responsibility of the organization operating in the Cloud to ensure the safety of customers and their sensitive data. Governments around the globe have defined complaint frameworks like GDPR, PII, HIPPA, and so on, which must be adhered to by cloud organizations that collect customer data for operations.

What Can Pose a Threat to Sensitive Data?

Data breach is a well-known threat that has already affected many businesses around the world and is continuing to do so, bringing companies to a standstill and in the worst cases even closure of businesses.

A data breach is a scenario in which your organization's data security is compromised by a malicious user or group (hacker), who steals your organization's sensitive data. Once the data is stolen, hackers can demand ransom to return your data which can lead to data loss by your organization. Hackers might even directly expose your sensitive data on platforms like the dark web without demanding any ransom.

How Can I Prevent Data Breach?

As we saw in the previous section, a data breach can easily lead to data loss or data exposure. So, you need to prevent data breaches in your organization. But what exactly can cause a data breach?

The Infosecurity magazine's July 2023 article revealed that human error is the most common cause that leads to a data breach. Of all the data breaches caused, human error was responsible for 55% of the total data breaches. (The next distant factor was the exploitation of vulnerabilities which accounted for 21% of all the data breaches).

A human error is a scenario in which an employee from the cloud provider organization leaks out sensitive data unintentionally. This is known as a data leak. Data leaks are pretty common in organizations because employees are generally occupied in their day-to-day tasks. Some or most of their tasks involve the usage of sensitive data present in the organization. While using sensitive data there is a very high possibility that employees might leak it publicly, causing a data leak, thus leaving room for a potential data breach attack which can ultimately lead to data loss.

The following examples are scenarios of data leaks that can be caused by employees.

  • A developer commits a piece of code to GitHub that consists of an API key or some other credentials.

  • An employee shares an image in a public Slack channel that contains sensitive data.

  • A developer submits live API keys to ChatGPT to generate a block of code.

  • An employee uploads a document with sensitive data to a public Google Drive or AWS S3 bucket.

  • A support team member reveals secret data in a Zendesk ticket.

The above examples are pretty common cases of data leaks which are difficult for any organization to prevent. In the real world, many more scenarios of data leaks go unnoticed until they lead to a data breach. Even after a data breach, it could be difficult for organizations to figure out how hackers were able to gain access to sensitive data, which can help them stop such attacks in the future. It is only when organizations perform a hardcore root cause analysis they get to know that a minor data leak by an employee led to a mammoth data breach.

So, it's pretty clear that not exercising anti-data leak solutions in your organization is as good as serving your organization's sensitive data on a platter to malicious attackers. This is because some employee at some point is bound to accidentally cause a data leak.

How Can I Prevent a Data Leak?

Framing policies to protect sensitive data and educating employees about these policies is a common approach followed by organizations. However, every organization that experienced a data leak, did have data protection policies and implemented rigorous training to employees on adhering to these policies which unfortunately could not prevent the attack.

Another approach can be the use of Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs), or some data leak prevention (DLP) tools that can automatically halt unintentional data leak attempts by employees. However, the issue with such tools is that many of them cannot be used in the cloud. Some other DLPs are deployed as agents. The issue with these agents is that when information is transferred to cloud applications from unmanaged or off-network devices, these legacy solutions are powerless to intercept it. Once the sensitive information is stored within the cloud application or infrastructure, legacy endpoints, and network solutions can no longer see it. As a result, users of legacy DLP solutions are left with no visibility into sensitive data that already exists in the cloud, or which is being transferred to the cloud on unmanaged networks or devices.

So, how do you protect your sensitive data in the cloud?

Nightfall - AI Native Cloud DLP

Nightfall’s Cloud DLP provides a solution to this problem. Nightfall is cloud-native and integrates directly with other cloud applications and infrastructure at the application level via API. Nightfall can inspect content stored within the cloud application regardless of how it got there, for complete visibility into cloud DLP risk. Another key advantage of direct cloud-native integration is that Nightfall can take remediation actions on sensitive data that is discovered in the cloud, thus eliminating the DLP risk at the source - a method that legacy solutions cannot hope to achieve. Nightfall’s cloud-native DLP does not require the installation of agents and can be integrated with your cloud applications in just a few clicks. The result is a DLP solution for the modern world that can proactively identify and eliminate DLP risk across your cloud environment.

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