In today’s digital world, businesses face various cybersecurity threats, including malware, hacking, and phishing scams. Insider threats, unfortunately, are widely ignored. These threats could emerge from former or present staff members, professionals, or affiliates with access to sensitive company data.
Insiders can cause considerable harm to a business, either deliberately or unintentionally. Insider threats demand a multi-layered strategy that consists of prevention, detection, and response planning. Let’s take a look at it in more detail.
The very first phase of safeguarding a business from insider threats is prevention. Implementing strong access controls is a vital stage for avoiding insider threats. This usually involves restricting access to confidential information and devices to staff members who need it to perform their functions. For instance, if an employee does not necessitate possession of financial data, they should not have it. Moreover, organizations must check access controls on an ongoing basis to make sure that access privileges are up-to-date and that former staff members do not have access.
Another preventive strategy is to educate employees about the possible consequences of insider threats and processes for securing private data. This involves regular training sessions on hot-button issues such as phishing attempts, password management, and social engineering methods. Employees should also be urged to disclose any strange behavior, such as unlawful usage of company data or suspicious behavior by colleagues.
In May 2022, a Yahoo research scientist named Qian Sang allegedly stole confidential information about Yahoo’s AdLearn product shortly after being offered a job by a rival company, The Trade Desk. According to reports, Sang downloaded approximately 570,000 pages of Yahoo intellectual property onto his personal devices to use the data to his advantage in his new position. This incident highlights the significance of carrying out regular access reviews, incorporating identity verification control systems, and employee training on social engineering methods to stop future attacks.
Insider threats can still occur despite preventative measures. Early detection of insider threats is crucial for preventing the harm that they can end up causing. Tracking employees’ work on company networks and systems is one way to identify insider threats. This would include vigilantly watching out for unusual activity, such as trying to access private information after working days or downloading huge files.
Insider threats can also be detected by utilizing data loss prevention (DLP) tools. These tools supervise network activity and can identify when vulnerable data is accessed or distributed in an unauthorized way. DLP tools can also help reduce the risk of incidental data loss by notifying employees when they try to transmit confidential material outside the company.
For example, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, most of the world’s workforce had their workplace either entirely or partly forced to close. According to reports, many people were forced to quit their jobs during the COVID-19 disease outbreak, including a vice president at Stradis Healthcare in Georgia. When Stradis fired him in March 2020, he was furious. On his last day, he accessed the company’s shipping platform via a private email account he had created and removed critical delivery details.
As a direct consequence, PPE kits for health professionals fighting the COVID-19 outbreak were severely hampered, putting the workforce at risk. The incident highlights the necessity of tracking employee activity and embedding DLP tools to avert future instances like this one.
A quick and effective response to an insider threat is critical to minimizing the damage. Having an incident response strategy that highlights the actions to be taken in the event of a security incident is a crucial component of the response. This strategy must include steps to recognize and contain the threat and interact with those who may be directly impacted, such as clients and staff members.
Another critical aspect of the response is having the necessary tools and expertise to investigate and mitigate the threat. This contains forensic analysis software as well as experience and knowledge in incident response and forensic analysis.
For example, in 2018, a former Tesla employee was able to jeopardize the firm’s production system and snatch private data. Tesla reacted immediately, notifying cops and collaborating with forensic investigators to look into the incident. The incident highlights the significance of having an incident response strategy in place, as well as the essential tools and expertise to minimize insider threats.
Comprehensive Insider Threat Management
Insider threats are of major concern to companies, and minimizing them demands a multi-layered strategy. Strong access controls, preventative measures, and employee training are essential, as are detection and reaction strategies. All three aspects should be included in a comprehensive insider threat management framework.
This strategy should start with prevention techniques like severely limiting sensitive data and educating staff about the threats of insider attacks. Staff members must be trained on the key principles for securing private data, and access controls should be assessed regularly to guarantee they are accurate.
Implement detection strategies to track employee activity and identify any abnormalities that may signify an insider threat. Employee monitoring can identify suspicious behavior that may imply a threat, and DLP tools can help in identifying improper access to confidential information.
Eventually, response plans should be in place to swiftly and efficiently react to any discovered insider threats. This includes setting up an incident response plan and the necessary tools and know-how to probe and reduce the danger.
It is evident from the above that for many companies, credible insiders such as staff members, associates, and consultants represent the most significant threat to their data and intellectual property. Insider threats, unfortunately, are among the most tricky to reduce. Companies must be able to deal with the dangers presented by malicious insiders who steal sensitive data for their gain, as well as users who unknowingly disclose information because of negligence or simple mistakes. To decrease insider risk and prevent threats, companies can utilize various instruments and methods.
Insider threats pose a significant risk to companies, requiring a proactive strategy that involves prevention, detection, and response planning. Businesses can minimize the possibility of insider threats by setting strict access controls, educating staff on the dangers of insider threats, and tracking employee activity. Furthermore, having an incident response strategy in place and the necessary resources and expertise can aid in minimizing the harm caused by insider threats. At last, a thorough insider threat management program is essential for protecting a firm from this type of cyber risk.