Business Productivity

Mitigating risks of data exfiltration with AWS AppFabric

In today’s cloud-centric business environment, data plays a critical role in many organizations. However, as companies increasingly adopt software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications and store sensitive data in the cloud, the risk of data exfiltration – the unauthorized transfer of data from secure systems to an external, untrusted destination – has become a significant concern. Data exfiltration can occur due to malicious actors, compromised insiders, or even accidental mishandling of sensitive information. The consequences can be severe, ranging from regulatory fines and reputational damage to intellectual property theft and financial losses making it imperative for organizations to implement robust data protection measures and maintain strict control over their sensitive information assets. This blog post will discuss the challenges of managing SaaS applications and security threats like data exfiltration. I will also share how AWS AppFabric, a fully-managed service that enhances security observability, helps security teams detect and mitigate these threats.

Understanding data exfiltration

Data exfiltration can take various forms, such as stealing intellectual property, leaking customer records, or extracting financial information. Common techniques employed by attackers include exploiting software vulnerabilities, compromising privileged accounts, using malware like keyloggers or backdoors, and even tricking insiders through social engineering tactics. These techniques can grant unwanted access to SaaS applications, giving them the ability to see and export sensitive data.

Challenges managing SaaS applications

The widespread adoption of SaaS applications has introduced new complexities for modern organizations. As businesses increasingly rely on a myriad of cloud-based tools and platforms, the proliferation of SaaS applications has made it challenging to maintain visibility and control over their usage. With employees accessing these applications from multiple devices and locations, tracking and monitoring activities becomes an arduous task. Furthermore, the decentralized nature of SaaS applications often leads to data silos, hindering seamless collaboration and data sharing across teams and departments. Compounding these challenges is the lack of consistent security policies and controls across diverse SaaS environments, increasing the risk of data breaches and non-compliance with industry regulations. Organizations struggle to enforce uniform access management, data protection, and auditing protocols, leaving them vulnerable to potential insider threats, accidental data leaks, and external cyber attacks targeting their cloud-based assets.

AppFabric security features

AppFabric is a powerful, no-code solution that addresses the challenges of data exfiltration and SaaS application management. This service from Amazon Web Services (AWS) enables organizations to gain comprehensive visibility and control over their SaaS ecosystem. AppFabric acts as a centralized command center, providing a unified view of all SaaS applications in use across the organization. Its key features include normalized audit logging, which consolidates and enriches log data from multiple SaaS platforms, enabling advanced threat detection and forensic analysis. By using the Open Cybersecurity Schema Framework (OCSF), AppFabric facilitates seamless integration with security information and event management (SIEM) tools, streamlining threat monitoring and incident response processes.

With AppFabric, organizations can effectively combat data exfiltration threats while ensuring regulatory compliance and optimizing their SaaS application management efforts. For example, with data from AppFabric, organizations can identify when users export files across multiple SaaS applications. The data contains the user that exported the files, which files they exported, and when they exported the files, making it possible to correlate the activity to other information that may indicate a compromise. It’s also possible to use AppFabric data to build visualizations showing exported data trends that can highlight spikes in activity that may need attention. The figure below is an example visualization built with Amazon OpenSearch using AppFabric data that shows user activity and data export trends across multiple SaaS applications. The visualization demonstrates an incident of an unusually high number of exports that may require investigation.

Figure 1 Data export visualization

Getting started with AppFabric

Getting started with AppFabric is a straightforward process that empowers organizations to quickly enhance their SaaS security posture. The first step is to create an AWS account, which can be done through the AWS Management Console or by contacting AWS sales representatives. Once the account is set up, administrators can navigate to the AppFabric service and initiate the onboarding process. This involves connecting the SaaS applications used within the organization to AppFabric, enabling it to collect and normalize audit logs and facilitate cross-application monitoring and observability. AWS provides comprehensive documentation, including step-by-step guides and video tutorials, to ensure a smooth onboarding experience. Additionally, the AppFabric team offers dedicated support and resources to assist organizations in configuring the service to meet their specific requirements.


As organizations continue to embrace the cloud and SaaS applications, the need for robust security measures and efficient application management has never been more critical. In this blog, we discuss the impacts of security threats like data exfiltration and how AppFabric’s comprehensive solution to address these threats, facilitate enhanced security observability and monitoring. By leveraging AppFabric, businesses can safeguard their sensitive data and identify security threats across their SaaS applications. Take the first step towards a more secure and productive SaaS ecosystem by exploring AppFabric’s 30-day free tier for two SaaS applications. To build your own security solution, read our blog post Build a security monitoring solution with AWS AppFabric and Amazon Security Lake.

Bobby Williams

Bobby Williams

Bobby is a Senior Solutions Architect at AWS. He has decades of experience designing, building, and supporting enterprise software solutions that scale globally. He works on solutions across industry verticals and horizontals and is driven to create a delightful experience for every customer.