What is an Insider Threat?
According to US-Cert.gov, an Insider Threat is a current or former employee, contractor, or other business partner who has or had authorized access to an organization’s network, system, or data and intentionally misused that access to negatively affect the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of the organization’s information or information systems.
Why should the average company be concerned about Insider Threats?
Many companies worry about insiders stealing physical property, but theft and misuse of intellectual property, systems and data may have an even greater negative impact on their business. Abusing access rights and insider cyber theft may lead to exposure of sensitive or negative information, proprietary information landing in competitors’ hands, a breakdown of operating systems, and a host of other consequences that compromise the company’s brand, finances, reputation and operation.
How is an Insider Threat different from a standard cybersecurity threat?
An Insider Threat is particularly dubious because it emanates from a person who has or had authorized access to an organization’s network, system or data. The insider carelessly or intentionally exceeds or uses their access in a manner that negatively affects the confidentiality, integrity or availability of the organization’s information or information systems.
Examples of Insider Threats include:
- Careless or Uninformed Users including undertrained staff, accident-prone employees, negligent workers, mismanaged third-party contractors, and overwhelmed personnel
- Malicious Users including those who seek to harm the organization or benefit themselves through theft and misuse of company assets.
How can a business protect itself from Insider Threats?
Businesses can protect against Insider Threats by having a basic layered security framework along with a combination of solutions to secure databases through role-based access controls, technical controls, and ongoing multi-level monitoring of personnel, particularly users of artificial intelligence, big data analytics.
The following are examples of controls that can be used by businesses of all levels.
- Non-technical controls:
- Institute and adhere to a defined set of Policies and Procedures including limiting access according to job scope / position and having clear change management processes
- Cultivate a culture of trust and appreciation
- Effectively communicate expectations and security requirements
- Educate staff about cybersecurity and train them to defend the organization
- Address cybersecurity in Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
- Technical Controls:
- Data Encryption
- Network Segmentation
- Predictive Artificial Intelligence
- Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
- User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA)
- Identity and Access Management
- Data Loss Protection (DLP)
- User Activity Monitoring
Insider Threat risk is on the rise, but can be mitigated through a planned set of technical and non-technical strategies. Cybersecurity consulting firms that specialize in small and mid-sized businesses can help organizations that do not have an in-house security team. Having specialists help to identify the specific solutions that fit your business, industry and employees can save time, money and stress, while helping to keep the business compliant and sustainable.
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