Compromise of personal, business, or government Data   is a critical global issue. Passwords, biometrics, multi-factor access protocols, and other user authentication forms seem to be failing to curb the incidences of data loss and theft.

It is the prime responsibility of companies to take active steps to safeguard the organization’s digital presence on and offline abiding by elaborate security measures. A shocking volume of data is exposed to threat due to poorly configured security settings, a reluctance to update legacy software or an uninformed or indifferent employee.  Moreover, the situation is getting grave.  Digital Shadows’ Photon Research Team scanned the online file storage landscape, and observed   more than 2.3 billion files exposed to a security threat. The research also revealed the alarming increase of 50% as compared to the last year. Geographical data captured show that Europe accounts for the largest share of threat situations, followed by America, Asia, and the Middle East.

With the ever-increasing internet exposure, ransomware extortion has become an industry that is growing exponentially. The methods used by ransomware attackers have now become more subversive and complex. Up until now, the standard industry process to ensure ransomware mitigation has been to regularly back up files to quickly revert to saved copies in case of payments failure or downtown. The same Digital Shadow’s research identified 17 million-plus ransomware-encrypted files among storage often used for back up. Out of which, one particularly aggressive variant, NamPoHyu, was found to be solely responsible for encrypting more than 2 million files. Enterprises have now admitted that data backup is not sufficient as an exclusive measure to fight the ransomware threat, as backups need to be secured as well.

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A significant chunk of data leaks and exposures is not due to the negligence of the company owners, though. Increasingly, the security breaches are linked back to the third parties –suppliers, contractors, vendors, and other firms in the company’s supply chain who have authorized access to the client’s files. There is a colossal threat detected from the service providers such as data management, storage, and processing. Top-ranked firms across industries now focus on building an extensive network of specialized suppliers and partners with defined cyber-defenses in place. In addition, the growing dependency of internet-connected wireless devices has exposed firms and individual to a toxic stew of opportunities for mischief.

The growing base of interconnections is not limited to big techs only, as virtually all business, regardless of size, are embedded in a maze of online relationships. The attack surface summing of all the different points where an unauthorized user can potentially attempt to harm or extract data from an organization’s digital environment, is expanding geometrically.

Firms need to complicate their passwords and other authentication mechanisms to provide enhanced protection in case of a third party’s connected system unwittingly exposing the critical data. They need to stress on bridging these security gaps in the armor cascade onto every sector. Essential data of payment, security assessments, financial customer data, product roadmaps, sales strategies, schematics, and legal documents need extensive protection from dark web sales, fraud, extortion, or inflicting reputational damage.

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Swiping a document or stealing a folder is comparatively small compared to losing millions of sensitive files at one go. This is a relatively new phenomenon exposing to greater threat from high tech hackers.

Digital transformation is essential to remain competitive for which firms need to be prepared for all the associated issues that arise as outsourcing and system integration trends spread. Industry experts agree that in dealing with vendors, trust alone is not sufficient, as security needs to be a collaborative effort. Third parties need to comply with the standards for mitigating risks.

Monitoring of vendors needs to be an ongoing routine process for all enterprises. It is prudent for all companies to effectively coordinate with vendors, run simulations, set security directives, and assesses the impact of potential failures to prioritize the security strategies required. It will take a whole community of vendors and business partners to build a global secure data environment.

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