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Perimeter and network security is no longer sufficient to protect data. Banco Santander Case


Perimeter security is no longer enough


By Patricia Prada, Cybersecurity Manager at Intexus

The unauthorized access to a customer and employee database reported by Banco Santander Spain and now for sale on the dark web is a clear example of why network and perimeter security is no longer sufficient and robust data protection measures are needed in case such a data theft occurs.

In an official communiqué dated May 14, 2024, the Santander Group informed
Santander Group reported on its website
about an unauthorized access to a database of the entity hosted by a provider that contained information of customers of Santander Chile, Spain and Uruguay, and of all employees and some former employees of the group.

The bank also reported that it immediately implemented measures to manage the incident, such as blocking access to the database and reinforcing fraud prevention to protect customers, specifying that the database contained no transactional information or internet banking login credentials or passwords that would allow for potential bank fraud.

the BBC reported
that the perpetrators of this data theft, who claim to be the same people behind the attack on the Ticketmaster ticketing website, are selling the data on the dark web, with all the reputational and operational costs this entails for the bank.


Why was this data theft successful?

Although the Bank only reported that the stolen database was hosted on a vendor’s service,
a data leak is successful when two conditions occur: the security of an organization’s perimeter network, consisting of firewalls, VPN, proxies, authentication and access control, has been breached and unwanted

composed of firewalls, VPN, proxies, authentication and access control has been breached and unauthorized persons gain access, and the stored data is not well protected with measures such as data encryption, leaving the information available and open to cybercriminals.

In the face of a cyber attack, traditional perimeter security is an organization’s first level of defense and is essential to protect the network from unauthorized access and external attacks. However, it is not enough on its own to guarantee data protection, as happened to Banco Santander, and even more so when this information is hosted by a third party.

For this reason, it is important to have robust data protection measures that add an additional layer of security by safeguarding information in all circumstances and minimizing the impact of unauthorized access to the network by rendering data unreadable to attackers, even if they gain access to it.


Efficient measures to prevent data theft

In the case of Banco Santander organizations can learn important lessons to prevent data leakage. The first is that an organization must always ensure control of its data, even if it is shared or hosted on a third party’s network. This can be achieved with robust measures such as access control with multi-factor or role-based authentication, data encryption and efficient management of encryption keys, which protect information even when it is shared with a third party.

The second major lesson is that the perimeter cybersecurity network that protects an organization from external intruders is essential to prevent such incidents, but it can be breached and be insufficient, so it is crucial to complement perimeter security with a defense in depth of the data, including continuous monitoring, access control, encryption and management and control of encryption keys with third parties, which are the measures that can really ensure the protection of data even if a cyberattack occurs.


A data-centric protection strategy

At Intexus, we help organizations simply implement a comprehensive and robust data protection strategy wherever they are, with solutions to discover, protect, monitor and control your organization’s information even if it is shared with third parties.

Our protection, unlike traditional cybersecurity strategies that are based on the perimeter, network or infrastructure, focuses on the data and all its states within the process flows of organizations.

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