What are insider threats?
Internal threats occur when users, who have authorized access to an organizations internal information, data centers, and computer systems, abuse this privilege. With great intellectual power comes great responsibility. Insiders who misuse their access privileges have the ability to commit fraud, intellectual property theft, data leaks, or release of trade secrets. The misuse or abuse of sensitive data can be a massive risk for companies.
What are the types of insider threats?
Whether the insider threat was deliberate or accidental it can be equally as detrimental to a company. Insider threats can be committed by current or former employees, third parties, partners, or even contractors. Insiders vary in a number of different ways such as, in their motivations, level of awareness, and points of access. There are three different categories when it comes to insider threats, malicious insiders, negligent insiders, and infiltrators.
Malicious insiders are people who take advantage of their access and purposefully inflict destructive behavior on the company.
Negligent insiders are people who either unintentionally make errors or disregard policies putting their organization at risk.
Infiltrators are external actors that gain internal access and credentials without any authorization.
How to avoid insider threats
When a cyber-attack occurs from someone with internal access, it can be very hard to detect. Because the access to the organization's information is legitimate, it's not easy to notice the suspicious activity and it commonly gets passed off as normal activity, even if it is malicious.
In order to detect insider threats, it is important for your security team to keep an eye on all user's regular activities. This way if something seems slightly out of place, they can begin to monitor that user more carefully. Knowing what data is sensitive and keeping tabs on where it is being used or how it is being used, and what type of risks are associated with the data is a key component to detecting an insider threat.
To minimize the threats from one of your own employees, make sure that you have done thorough background checks before hiring and giving access to your networks sensitive data. If a new employee is planning a malicious attack on your company's network, most likely it is not their first time doing so. For this reason, performing extensive background checks is a good place to start to avoid hiring someone who is a potential insider threat.
Some threats are simply due to a lack of training and security awareness. In order to avoid this type of insider threat from employees, it is important to keep an eye on users who have a history of falling for phishing attacks. If employees are not careful, they can accidentally release their credentials and give a hacker an easy access point to hack into the system under a stolen identity. The better trained that employees are on how to recognize phishing attacks or suspicious attempts at stealing user passwords or logins, the less likely it is that sensitive data will end up in the wrong hands.
Another way to avoid insider threats is to only give permission to select people on sensitive company data. The less users that have access, means less risk of anything getting intentionally or accidentally released. It also makes it much easier to pinpoint who may have been the culprit of the leak if only a few people have access. To do this, we recommend users have the minimum security permissions to do their job. For instance, not allowing users to have admin access, but instead having a set admin account that only authorized employees can use. This is yet another step towards good cybersecurity hygiene.
Combat insider threats
Insider threats are becoming increasingly common. With so many people transferring to remote work environments skilled hackers are using this to their advantage and gaining access to users' credentials. It is important to educate all employees on the risks of insider threats to avoid valuable information getting leaked leading to unrepairable damage. For more information on how to deter insider threats within your company, contact Usherwood Office Technology at, 800.724.2119.