Skip to content

How Do You Prevent Sensitive Data Exposure?

A common feature of many web applications is allowing users to sign in and manage their personal data. Banking sites, healthcare portals, and eCommerce sites are just a few of the apps that collect, store, and use financial information, health records, and credit card details. While all applications that collect personally identifiable information (PII) must meet strict security requirements and regulatory compliance standards, we know that sensitive data is far too often exposed in multiple ways.

Sensitive data exposure vulnerability is a security weakness in an application or system that allows access to unauthorized users.

  • Insufficient encryption makes data vulnerable to interception or unauthorized access.
  • Non-secure storage makes data readily accessible to cyber attackers.
  • Software flaws allow attackers to bypass security measures and access sensitive data.
  • Misconfigured databases or servers leave sensitive data exposed.
  • Inadequate access controls and other forms of weak data management allow unauthorized internal and external users to breach data repositories and steal PII.
  • Lack of data masking exposes credit card numbers or other personal identifiers bad actors can use to commit identity theft, financial fraud, or unauthorized transactions.
  • Caching issues that make data accessible to unauthorized parties.
  • API exposure can be a source of data leaks.

Other information organizations typically collect also falls under the definition of sensitive data. Employee data, intellectual property, trade secrets, and digital infrastructures can all be compromised by exposure vulnerabilities that put individual privacy and security at risk while jeopardizing the business’s competitive standing and operational integrity.

Data breaches can lead to fines, legal action, economic losses, and reputational damage. Velotix helps organizations minimize the effect of sensitive data exposure by making it easy to see who has access to what and where they access it. You maintain complete visibility of your data stores through one portal and retain control over all data activity.

Sensitive Information Disclosure vs. Data Breach

Sensitive data exposure doesn’t always mean a cyber attacker is actively breaching your organization’s system. However, it does indicate the data isn’t sufficiently protected and could be exposed if an attacker locates and exploits the vulnerability.

  • Sensitive information disclosure happens when confidential details are exposed to unauthorized parties through error, oversight, or minor security flaws. For instance, an email containing PII accidentally sent to someone other than the intended recipient is a case of sensitive information disclosure. The person who mistakenly receives the email isn’t necessarily going to use the information it contains maliciously.
  • Data breaches are more severe security incidents where protected data is accessed without authorization due to a deliberate attack or a significant security failure. They typically involve ransomware, hacking, malware, or vulnerability exploitation. They also tend to be more extensive, potentially affecting vast amounts of data and numerous individuals. An example would be hackers gaining access to a company’s database and stealing user data, including passwords, credit card numbers, and personal identifiers.

While each scenario involves unauthorized access to sensitive information, they differ significantly in intent and scale. Sensitive information disclosure is often accidental and limited in scope. In contrast, data breaches are generally a result of targeted, malicious actions and have far-reaching consequences. In both cases, however, the implications can be severe, leading to loss of trust, reputational damage, and legal consequences. The clear solution is more robust data security measures and practices, including strong encryption, secure data storage practices, advanced access controls, and regular security assessments.

Sensitive Data Exposure Remediation

Sensitive data can be exposed in transit and at rest. Taking steps to protect data from the inside out can prevent breaches that lead to sensitive data exposure.

Sensitive data exposure remediation identifies, controls, and mitigates the risks associated with the unintended release or access of sensitive data. AI-powered Velotix is an industry-leading solution that helps organizations manage sensitive data. Purpose-built and fully automated, it includes advanced monitoring, analysis, and response capabilities that respond to potential data exposure incidents. It automatically detects unusual access patterns or data transfers that could indicate a breach, enabling quick response to prevent data leaks. It also ensures compliance with data protection regulations, providing peace of mind for businesses handling critical personal or financial information and making them a trustworthy brand with new and existing customers.