The Dangers From Within – Insider Threats

Security threats can appear from anywhere, most of them tend to occur from the inside. You may not think it, but the biggest threat to your company could be your very own employees – insider threats.

Businesses tend to put their focus on internet-based attacks, rather than human-based attacks. However, insiders can cause more damage to a business than an Internet-based attack. Businesses tend to forget employees have access to valuable data, they can use it in any way they wish, without being detected.

The challenge of insider threats

“How attractive is your business to a malicious insider?” Is a question you should ask yourself.

25% of security incidents are due to insider threats. It is very normal for these threats to go unnoticed for years. It is hard for businesses to detect whether an employee working with sensitive data is using it maliciously. Inside threats are constantly overlooked, as they come from a trusted source people think nothing of it. It is common for a business to make the mistake of giving employees more access to data than they actually need.

However, some insiders don’t intend to put your business at risk. It could be human error, which caused the data to become lost or stolen. It has been proven that employees who use their personal devices for work are often the ones who can put their company at risk.

As well as using personal devices for work, social media has become another culprit for insider threats. Social media allows a vast amount of information to be leaked from companies, often without their knowledge.

Who are the insider threats?

With insider threats, there are three types of users that have been proven to be a threat to businesses.

Third Parties: Anyone from a remote employee to business parties and many in between. These people are likely to have access to your database and other forms of data.

Privileged users: These are the ones to look out for, they tend to have a higher authority in the business, as well as access to more sensitive data.

Terminated employees: They may take the companies valuable data along with them. This could be anything from customer information to investor contact details. If their work accounts have not been shut down after they have left, ex-employees can still access the companies database as well as other forms of data.

Cause of growth

Many organisations forget to remove access from resources reserved by end users when they move from one role to another, or even when they leave the company. They can go unnoticed by security systems as they have the knowledge and access to proprietary systems.

Social engineering has been exploiting weaknesses in humans for many years it can take many forms. Whether it’s through social media, email or over the phone, they are all extremely effective and can trick many people daily. If a disgruntled employee wanted to conduct an internal social engineer attack against the business, it would not take much time or effort. With them being a former employee or still working there they have access to a lot of sensitive data.

Preventing insider threats

So, how can we change the mindset of employees and protect our business?

Every company should have a data security policy. At a minimum, the policy should include procedures that must be taken to prevent and detect any misuse in the workplace. Insider threats are becoming very common, with around 50% of businesses having at least one malicious insider attack every year. The methods of attack vary depending on the industry and the job role of the criminal.

Password security: All it takes is a simple password to gain access to any account, this is why 2-factor authentication is a must. Even if another employee has your password, they will need the 2nd form of security to authenticate. This could be anything from a thumbprint to a security question. There is also multi-factor authentication, this is an even stronger form of security, it works just as well as the 2-factor method.

Security Awareness: For a security breach to happen all it takes is an innocent yet careless employee. Giving employees the knowledge of how to spot and prevent cyber crime before it happens could save your business from losing valuable data. It is crucial to employ a good security awareness program that will educate employees on security best practices and how to maintain them. More information can be found at usecure website.