Insider Threats in the Organization

In 2019, a renowned cloud hosting company fell victim to a data breach. The hacker accessed over 100 million accounts of customers and credit applications by exploiting a misconfigured web application firewall. Even though no credentials or credit card account numbers were compromised, the company’s reputation and customer trust were adversely impacted. 

Interestingly, the hacker came out to be a former software engineer of the company who shared its method of hacking into the company with its colleagues over a chat application. The former employee of the company even shared the method over social media platforms which, eventually became the source of “leakage”. Eventually, the case of data breach turned out to be an insider threat case.

Shocking right? 

Organizations often tend to overlook the ‘insider threat’ but these are the biggest contributors to the cyber attacks today. Various statistics reveal that insider threats could be employees, contractors, trusted business associates, or any that have easy access to your organization’s network. 

Let us guide you through everything that you must know about the insider threat. 

What is an Insider Threat in Cyber Security?

An insider threat is someone who has authorized access to your organization’s critical systems or the information and poses a security risk to the organization by misusing the authorized access. 

The insider threat doesn’t have to be a current working individual or stakeholder of your organization. It can be either a former employee or board member who still possesses access to your organization’s proprietary or sensitive information. Check out the image shown below to learn about different types of insider threats present within an organization: 

Types of Insider Threats
Types of Insider Threats

From the above image, it can be clearly seen that humans are primarily insider threats to an organization. In the Wall Street Journal survey, it was found that nearly 70% of companies say they worry about malicious employees! While employees remain to be the biggest security threat in this cyber attack, traditional security practices would not have been enough to mitigate such cyber threats. 

How to Detect and Mitigate Insider Threats in the Organization?

Insider Threat

Human vulnerabilities have resulted in emerging cyber attacks, impacting organizations to suffer from massive data breaches and irrecoverable financial losses. As per the 2020 Cost of Insider Threats Global Report, the overall cost of insider threats is rapidly rising. There is a 31% increase from $8.76 million in 2018 to $11.45 million in 2020.

Insider threat is hidden in every vertical today and can turn catastrophic to businesses if not ignored. The CISOs and CIOs of organizations must take this potential cyber threat into consideration and should implement insider threat training for employees. In fact, every IT security official should consider insider threat protection as the ‘need of the hour’ in this current situation of remote work culture. 

Organizations should start implementing comprehensive insider threat protection programs and must work on the following guidelines:

  1. Educate employees with a security awareness training tool that offers simulated cyber attacks for real-life experience training. 
  2. Identify and report suspicious activities or behaviors indicating an employee to be a probable insider threat.
  3. Keep data secured by granting limited access permission to confidential information.
  4. Regularly update and maintain user access privileges list.
  5. Consider using complex and strong passwords for accounts.
  6. Establish and manage baselines for data access behavior to detect abnormal and potentially risky activities.
  7. Patch all vulnerabilities with the latest updates from time to time to prevent cyber threats like SQL injection attack, DDoS attack, etc.

Insider threats can be difficult to recognize and even more difficult is stopping them from causing harm to the organization. However, by implementing and working on preventive measures, an organization can stay secure. Along with the right security solutions and tools, educating employees about the importance of data security is very important. They should be trained to follow security policies and procedures to mitigate prevailing insider threats. 

What all preventive measures should organizations follow to reduce insider threats? Comment down below your views to let us know!

Hope you had a good read!

Do You Know
Who is the Weakest Link in the Cyber Security Chain of Your Organization?

You will be shocked but…it is your EMPLOYEES!

Make your employees proactive against prevailing cyber attacks with ThreatCop!

Pallavi Dutta

By Pallavi Dutta

Content Marketer and Team Leader

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