Insider threats: How to detect and prevent

Insider threats: How to detect and prevent

Cybersecurity threats are most often expected from outside a business – such as from ransomware attack. Primary cyber defenses, including firewalls, antivirus software, and security patches, have been designed to protect against outsider threats. However, a company may unknowingly be exposed to attack via insider threats.

What are insider threats?

Insider threats are dangers posed by current and former employees, third-party associates, or business partners who have access to an organization’s IT networks, computer systems, or data center storage. Attacks from inside sources may be intentional; for instance, disgruntled employees may leak or steal business data as a form of revenge. Unintentional insider threats, on the other hand, are risks posed by individuals who fail to comply with an organization’s security protocols, or whose careless behavior opens the door for phishing scams, malware attacks, and other schemes.

Both intentional and unintentional insider threats can expose a business to data loss and costly remediation. According to a Ponemon Institute study, a single insider threat-related security incident may cost millions of dollars over a 12-month period. The study also found that the average number of insider threats caused by employee or contractor negligence has increased 26% since 2016.

To combat insider threats, Roebuck Technologies recommends deployment of the solutions outlined below.

Threat modeling

Threat modeling involves identifying which parts of network systems are particularly vulnerable and which team members are likely to pose threats. After identifying the vulnerabilities in networks and people, create security measures to mitigate the weaknesses. Deploying threat modeling also entails identifying and protecting potential entry points in systems from vulnerabilities and malicious codes, such as worms and viruses. To evaluate potential risk, each team member’s pathway for accessing sensitive information should be mapped. Adjustments may be necessary not only in who has access but also how access is granted.

User authentication and access management

Remote working and bring-your-own-device strategies have become commonplace because of the COVID-19 pandemic, exponentially increasing the potential for insider threats. People who are working from dispersed locations and using different devices to access company networks may not be aware of the risk posed.

Organizations should implement strict policies for user authentication and access management. Security policies should require using complex passwords, lengthy passwords, using password managers, and enabling multifactor authentication.

User behavior monitoring

Early detection of abnormal user behavior is critical to counter insider threats. The key is monitoring behavior to detect users — especially those with administrative privileges — who exhibit suspicious behavior that might lead to data theft or potential sabotage. Behavior analytics solutions track malicious use of legitimate credentials, allowing business to stop insider threats and swiftly take corrective action.

Decommissioning accounts of terminated employees

Employees should have all access privileges revoked immediately upon termination. If this is not possible, reduce privileges as quickly as possible as tasks requiring account access are completed. Regardless of the reason for termination, individuals remain an insider threat if access to IT systems has not been revoked.

Prohibition of data exfiltration

Data exfiltration is most often conducted by an employee who is about to leave a company and may result from a variety of intentions. Place strict controls on data transfers to prevent insiders or hackers from copying proprietary or sensitive data. Systems can be implemented to monitor activities of current employees or business associates who transfer files to an external location, such as a file sharing site or personal account.

IT security best practices training

Employees who are trained to follow IT security best practices know to refrain from clicking on links in suspicious emails, avoid connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks, and protect credentials from prying eyes. In addition to educating employees regarding external threats, businesses should help them identify potential insider threats and encourage reporting of suspicious behavior

Insider threats can be just as damaging to a company’s reputation as external threats.
Roebuck Technologies can help build a cybersecurity strategy that will protect against both. Call us at 844-281-3524 or send us a message.

Doug Coleman

Doug Coleman

Chief Operating Officer

Doug possesses over 20 years of expertise in corporate finance, information systems, logistics, supply chain management and competitive strategies. He has served in executive management not only for The Roebuck Group, but also Commercial Carrier Corporation, a nationwide transportation and logistics provider. Additionally, he served in senior management at Vology, a global value-added reseller of technology solutions. Doug earned his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and Master of Business Administration degrees from the University of Florida as well as a Juris Doctorate degree from Stetson University College of Law.