The Dangers of Insider Threats

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While it is normal for companies to have blind trust in their employees, it gives more potential risks to insider threats. With nearly 60% of all data breaches caused by these threats, businesses must take the proper steps to protect themselves. 

Insider threats are individuals within an organization, such as current or former employees, contractors, and partners. These individuals like to misuse access to networks and credentials to disclose, modify, or delete sensitive information.

In this blog, we are going to discuss the different types of insider threats, and how to deal with insider threats from drastically affecting your business. 

What are the Different Types of Insider Threats?

Insider threats in businesses are either malicious or negligent. Malicious insider threats are usually rogue employees looking to leak confidential data, misuse their access to the network for personal gain, or inflict damage and disruption to a company. In some cases, malicious insider threats will work with competitors or hacking groups. 

Negligent insider threats are the result of accidental user errors, for example, employees falling for a phishing email or sharing data on insecure devices like USB sticks.

There is also the mole insider threat – an imposter that is an outsider but has managed to gain access to a network. This is someone from outside the organization that will pose as an employee or partner.

Let’s break down some more common examples of insider threats. Second streamers are employees that misuse private company information for financial gain or personal benefit. They use methods of fraud, collusion, or selling trade secrets. These types of insiders make up most of these attacks. 

The next closest example of insider threats are disgruntled employees. Disgruntled employees commit deliberate destruction of intellectual property and are the costliest to a business. 

When it comes to negligent threats, these are largely compromised of inadvertent insiders and persistent non-responders. Inadvertent insiders generally practice good behavior in keeping the network secure, but occasionally slip up. Unfortunately, these types of employees won’t recognize their mistakes until it is too late. 

Persistent non-responders are those who choose not to follow any cybersecurity measures. These staff members, who are usually in executive roles, choose not to participate in security awareness training or ignore those IT emails about secure passwords! These users are the most likely to fall victim to social engineering attacks like phishing or even ransomware attacks. 

Phishing attempt.

How to Prevent Insider Threats

It’s possible to prevent the use of sensitive company data or resources by making sure your team has a solid security policy in place. This will ensure that both internal and external cybersecurity threats are contained to an absolute minimum, or even eliminated. 

Your IT team will have to develop a plan that covers all bases, especially since these attacks are all about exploiting business networks. There should be regular security awareness training for all staff. They should be mindful of phishing attempts, how to create secure and effective passwords, multifactor authentication, and be aware of their physical surroundings around their computers.

When creating logins for your staff, your IT team should have an idea of who all have access to. They should closely manage the accounts and privileges of all employees and contractors. Some staff members may only need email access, some may need specific access to files and folders. 

Regarding disgruntled employees, your HR team should pay attention to any red flags, such as low morale or an official reprimand of an employee. HR and the IT team can then work together to use the appropriate technical solutions. You may want to introduce a policy that disables both email and network accounts immediately after termination. 

Your IT team should also have constant network monitoring to detect any abnormal behavior, like large packets of data being transferred, or many failed login attempts. Employees with mobile devices and laptops should return their equipment on the offboarding day. 

Perform background checks on new employees to minimize the risk of data misuse. It is recommended that the more time spent investigating an applicant’s background, the better. 

As important as it is to have the best cybersecurity practices and to train your staff, it is also about attitudes and beliefs. Your team should make it a top priority to promote culture change, and to encourage your staff to value the sensitive nature of their work. 

Wrapping Up

Insider threats have led to many businesses across the globe losing out on a lot of money over the years. But to make matters even worse, the loss of trust between employers and their employees will be tough to recover from.

These threats can be harder to identify or prevent than outside attacks, and they are invisible to traditional security solutions like firewalls and intrusion detection systems, which focus on external threats

To protect all your assets, you should diversify your insider threat detection strategy, instead of relying on a single solution. An effective insider threat detection system combines several tools to not only monitor insider behavior but also filter through a large number of alerts and eliminate false positives.

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