Many security systems claim to be trustworthy, but when it comes to data security, few things are more important than real-world results. Ever-evolving claims of improved interfaces and threat detection software, “next-generation” systems, and many other promising developments, have been around for as long as we have been using computers. Yet, despite these claims, major data breaches occur all the time. Sophisticated infiltration methods match or exceed the pace of conventional security development, and social engineering and phishing scams are increasingly prevalent.
While looking to the future is crucial to creating better data privacy solutions, security experts begin by examining the past. New systems have to not only provide solutions for emerging problems but address historic threats with meaningful changes.
Types of Data Security
While there are many different methods and tools used to protect data, most of these measures are aimed at achieving one of two goals: keeping malicious actors out of private data systems, and ensuring that organizations are protected in the event of a breach.
The first and most common focus in data protection is to create a secure storage environment. Tools for securing databases can include physical hardware security, passwords, firewall, proxy servers, user authentication, and more. All of these together form what is commonly referred to as perimeter security. Data destruction and proper sanitization of old devices can also play a role in protecting the integrity of data centers.
While perimeter security is aimed at keeping criminals out, however, traditional digital security is more reactive and perpetuates the vulnerabilities. Data backups and other redundant systems do help a company recover information in the event of ransomware and other attacks. However, it is always preferable to prevent attacks in the first place. To blaze new trails in the creation of cutting-edge data privacy measures, such as Zero-Trust methodologies, are a must if we are to preempt cyberattacks.
Revisiting Recent Data Attacks
Perimeter security and data backups are standard measures, but neither provides a fully-integrated and comprehensive solution. This is evidenced by the fact that all of the organizations discussed below employed these methods and still suffered breaches.
Zero-Trust protocols, on the other hand, prevent hackers from gaining the power to steal any sensitive data, even if outsiders do find a way past corporate firewalls — or are based on the inside. To understand how much of a difference Zero-Trust can make, let’s examine some of the highest-profile data breaches of the last decade and assess whether or not Zero-Trust security could have prevented these attacks.
Over the course of two instances, Yahoo suffered the largest recorded data breach to date. Two attacks, one occurring in mid-2013 and the other in late 2014, were belatedly reported by the company in 2016. The breaches were accomplished using cookie-based attacks, which allowed hackers to enter the system as authenticated users. This attack has been largely attributed to “state-sponsored” agents (with many pointing fingers at the Russian government).
Overall, over 3 billion user accounts were affected by the breaches. The fallout from these attacks not only led to class action lawsuits but also reduced the acquisition price of the company by Verizon by $350 million.
A more recent example of a high-profile breach occurred in 2020, when SolarWinds, a major US information technology firm, was the subject of a sophisticated cyberattack. Hackers broke into SolarWinds’ system and added malicious code that was later sent out as part of a routine update to clients of SolarWinds. Once installed, hackers were able to gain access to all manner of sensitive information in those customers’ own systems, including US government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon.
Meta is no stranger to large-scale data breach incidents. The most recent known attack on Facebook was revealed in 2021 when private data from 533 million user accounts appeared on a public internet forum. While the attack was dismissed by Meta as the result of Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) scraping, it was later revealed that hackers had accessed the information by exploiting vulnerabilities in Facebook’s Contact Import feature. This followed a June 2020 incident where Facebook accidentally shared private user data with third-party developers.
Truly Secure Data with Zero-Trust
While each of these attacks was achieved using different methodologies, the common thread between them all (and most other data leaks) was in hackers finding a way to access private databases. This access could be the result of compromised user credentials, such as, in the case of Yahoo, code attacks on client transmission and patching (i.e., SolarWinds), system loopholes (Facebook), or even simple mistakes.
The findings suggest that regardless of which method is used to gain entry, the real damage is done once malicious parties are inside the security perimeter. Even if backups are used to prevent data destruction or ransom, the damage of leaked private information is irreversible.
Both, conceptually and in practice, Zero-Trust addresses data privacy’s greatest weaknesses. Rather than relying on security perimeters – with the assumption that users within a system have the right to access its information, Zero-Trust security enables data files to protect themselves through independent verification. In a Zero-Trust security framework, users are continuously verified and authenticated, ensuring that data remains secure even if the system is compromised.
Zero-Trust Security from Sertainty
With heightened information security threats, securing sensitive data in all sectors is more crucial than ever. Traditional perimeter security is becoming increasingly inadequate in the face of smarter, more motivated attacks.
Sertainty has redefined how information is protected to ensure data privacy even where firewalls fail. Using cutting-edge protocols and embedding intelligence directly into data files and datasets, Sertainty leverages proprietary processes that enable data to Govern, Track, and Defend itself. These protocols mean that the data remains secure even if systems are compromised.
At Sertainty, we know that data is the most valuable asset to your organization’s continued success. Our industry-leading Data Privacy Platform has pioneered what it means for data to be Intelligent and Actionable, helping companies move forward with a proven and sustainable approach to their cybersecurity needs.
As the digital landscape evolves and networks become more widely accessible, Sertainty is committed to providing Self-Protecting Data solutions that evolve and grow to defend your crown jewels. Instead of focusing on your network’s inherent shortcomings, we enable you to safely and confidently embrace the potential of a new online-oriented world. Data breaches may be inevitable, but with Sertainty, privacy loss is moot.