PII Removal: Safeguarding Your Enterprise by Limiting Employee Personal Data Online

5 minute read

Google your CEO. Now, search for your CFO. Now, search for yourself. 

There is a good chance that within just a few minutes with a Google search you were able to locate personal identifying information (PII) of your executives and likely yourself, whether it was physical addresses, children’s names, parent’s names, email addresses, or phone numbers. This information is often housed online, by legal data brokers, who buy and sell your information. And while privacy concerns are issues when it comes to legal data brokers, the risks for your organization increase when bad actors find and traffic in PII data, too. Using this information, they can target your executives, VIPs, or even family members with cyberattacks, impersonations, and phishing campaigns in order to gain access to your business. This leaves a major gap that threat actors can exploit to target your business from the outside. 

It takes time (and patience) to find your information on these sites and follow the removal process for each respective data broker. Individuals want to know how to remove personal identifying information (PII) from search results quickly, but standard methods of removal are tedious and time consuming. But it doesn’t have to be a manual process. 

ZeroFox has just announced a new enterprise PII Removal solution that will scan more than 100 data broker sites for identifiable information on your executives and employees; it will also remove PII from these sites. This solution aims to close the gap that exists between your enterprise and data brokers who sell your employee’s information.

Employee privacy means better security for your enterprise

Cybercriminals can use employee personal information to create more effective social engineering campaigns and targeted cyberattacks. For example, they are able to target a user based on their family’s information to create more accurate and better disguised phishing emails. Deploying this kind of attack puts employees at risk of identity theft and financial losses, both personal and professional. 

PII removal mitigates risks associated with social engineering and impersonation attacks by limiting the information adversaries can access. As 82% of 2022 data breaches involved the human element, protection against social engineering attacks is paramount. Without easy access to a person’s PII, bad actors will struggle to obtain and exploit that information from other sources. 

Additionally, PII removal can help keep executives safe from physical harm. When it is easy to find an executive’s address, there is an inherent security risk. Whether through a coordinated attack originating online or retaliation from a disgruntled employee, keeping your executives address private adds an important layer of protection. 

Your executives and employees aren’t the only ones who will benefit from the removal of their information from data broker sites. By removing employee and executive personal data from easy online access, you limit your company’s online exposure and attack surface. It is a critical component of a strong external cybersecurity program.

Additionally, in a remote environment, it can be difficult to authenticate employees. For example, let’s say your IT department gets a phone call from a threat actor posing as an employee who lost their account credentials. IT might ask questions like “what street did you grow up on?” or “what is your mother’s maiden name?”– both of which are easily found through data broker websites in the top results on Google. This information is easy to find and quickly exposes your enterprise to a data breach. Removing this information from being easily found can reduce the risk of threat actors posing as one of your employees.

Privacy leads to efficiency

While employee and executive privacy protection may already be proving their worth with added peace of mind and employee retention support, it can also mitigate damage to productivity.

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, nearly two-thirds of identity theft victims lost more than 40 hours of work time while trying to resolve fraud. Twenty-four percent of victims indicated that it led to employment issues, and 40% were unable to pay monthly bills, creating further stress, or even stress-related illness. By protecting your people online, your team will be better able to stay on track and use that time to work on projects that matter the most. 

By using a PII removal tool for your team, you will also save time in the process of locating the information data brokers are packaging and selling online with your information. It would take 50+ hours to scrub the web of your data just for yourself, but the ZeroFox tool can search over 50-60 of the major sites and conduct removal requests on your behalf in a matter of minutes. And, as we know, data brokers will continually sell your data so we will continually monitor for it and request removal. 

How ZeroFox PII removal works

The ZeroFox/IDX PII Removal takes a few extra steps that differentiate it from free solutions offered to consumers. ZeroFox:

  • Works around the clock, removing information from websites as information is added, making the process fully automated. 
  • Processes takedown requests to automatically remove information from data broker sites and lists on your behalf. 
  •  Provides monthly email reports, detailing which employees have PII Removal and from how many sites their information has been removed. 
  • Gives you the option of enhanced disruption capabilities.By pairing PII Removal with social media monitoring for fraudulent accounts, ZeroFox can further disrupt social engineering attacks before they have the opportunity to develop. 

Harden your organization’s attack surface with ZeroFox’s PII Removal solution

Removing personal data from being readily found by Google and purchased online puts your whole enterprise at risk. Don’t wait for a threat actor to use that information to access your business. Reduce the information used to target your executives and employees. 

Reduce breach risks by removing personal information found easily online. PII Removal by ZeroFox helps security teams close the gap by actively removing PII of your executives and employees from being readily found by a Google search and purchased online. Stop cyber attacks from the outside-in through ongoing monitoring and automated removal on your behalf.

PII removal for employees and executives is only one part of end-to-end external cybersecurity. Removing information from data broker sites will add an extra barrier of safety – which is especially necessary in a remote work environment where social engineering campaigns can be more prolific. However, to fully protect your brand and company in the gray space online you must prioritize proactively identifying and disrupting threat actors. 

Learn more about ZeroFox’s PII removal tool and how to get started with your external cybersecurity strategy.

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