When we think of cybersecurity, we traditionally think of external threats. As a result, organizations prepare to respond to threats from hackers, malware and other bad actors trying to gain access to their networks.
However, while doing this, many organizations overlook the potential dangers posed by people who already have access to the network. Insider threats can be just as harmful, if not more so, than external threats and they can result in significant financial and reputational damage.
The risk has grown substantially in recent years. In Proofpoint’s 2022 Cost of Insider Threats: Global Report, it was reported that insider threats have risen 44 percent over the last two years with the average cost per incident now up to $15.38 million.
In this blog post, we will explore insider threats in detail and discuss the best practices for detecting and preventing them.
What Is An Insider Threat?
An insider threat is a security risk originating from within an organization. This can include employees, former employees, contractors or business partners who have authorized access to critical systems or sensitive information. There are several types of insider threats, including:
- Malicious insiders: Individuals who intentionally misuse their access to cause harm to the organization. This can include theft of sensitive data, sabotage of systems or espionage on behalf of a competitor.
- Negligent insiders: Individuals who unintentionally compromise security due to a lack of awareness or careless actions, such as sharing passwords, falling for phishing attacks or misconfiguring security settings.
- Inadvertent insiders: Individuals who become unwitting accomplices to an external attack, often through social engineering or other manipulation techniques.
How to Detect Insider Threats
Detecting insider threats can be challenging, as they often involve authorized users who are knowledgeable about the organization’s systems and security measures. However, some common signs of insider threats include:
- Unusual patterns of system or network activity
- Anomalous access to sensitive data or resources
- Unexplained changes to files or configurations
- Suspicious email or communications activity
By closely monitoring these indicators and instituting a comprehensive insider threat program, organizations can identify potential insider threats early and take appropriate action.
8 Best Practices for Insider Threat Prevention and Detection
- Implement a robust access control policy: Ensure that employees and contractors only have access to the systems and data they need to perform their jobs. Regularly review and update access permissions, and revoke access for individuals who no longer require it.
- Train employees on security awareness: Provide regular training on security best practices, including how to recognize and report potential threats. Encourage a culture of security awareness and make it easy for employees to report suspicious activity.
- Monitor user activity: Use analytics and monitoring tools to track user behavior, identify unusual patterns and flag potential threats. Regularly audit user accounts and access logs to ensure compliance with security policies.
- Conduct background checks: Perform thorough background checks on all employees, contractors and business partners who will have access to sensitive information or critical systems. This can help identify individuals who may pose a risk to the organization.
- Maintain data protection backups: Regularly back up critical data and systems to protect against data loss, corruption or malware. Ensure that backups are securely stored, encrypted and tested for recovery.
- Secure remote access: For employees working remotely, ensure that they are using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access the organization’s systems. Keep VPN software up to date and configured with the most secure settings. Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) for an additional layer of protection.
- Establish an incident response plan: Develop a comprehensive incident response plan that outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a suspected insider threat. This plan should include procedures for investigation, containment and recovery, as well as guidelines for internal and external communication.
- Perform regular security assessments: Conduct periodic security assessments to identify vulnerabilities and areas of potential insider threat risk. Use the findings from these assessments to inform updates to security policies and procedures, and to guide employee training and awareness efforts.
Insider threats can pose a significant risk to businesses, but by implementing these best practices, organizations can protect critical assets. It’s crucial to establish a comprehensive insider threat detection program that combines robust security policies, employee training, advanced monitoring tools, and proactive measures such as incident response planning and regular security assessments to protect your organization’s valuable assets.
If you’re interested in bolstering your organization’s insider threat detection and prevention efforts, don’t hesitate to contact us at Sanity Solutions. Our team of experienced IT consultants can help you develop a tailored strategy to safeguard your organization from insider threats and maintain the security of your data and systems.
Remember, the key to mitigating insider threats lies in fostering a culture of security awareness and vigilance within your organization. By investing in the right tools, training and processes, you can protect your business from the potentially devastating consequences of insider threats and ensure the ongoing success and resilience of your operations.