4 Types of Insider Threats You Need to Watch Out For

insider threats

Contrary to popular belief, the greatest threats to your company aren’t professional hackers equipped with cutting-edge malware. According to IBM, more than half of cyber threats are actually inside jobs. And while those tend to get less media coverage than external attacks, they’re often more dangerous.

That’s because insiders, whether they are internal or external employees, have authorised access to their company’s mission-critical systems, making it easy to misuse company data. What’s worse is most cybersecurity solutions are designed to monitor network perimeters; which does no good when hacks come from within.

For this reason, you must be fully aware of and know how to defend against all types of insider threats.

Malicious actors

Malicious actors are trusted insiders who deliberately attempt to harm their company. Usually motivated by financial gain or a personal vendetta; such individuals misuse their access privileges to steal sensitive data, sell intellectual property to competitors, or install malware.

What makes them so dangerous is that they have full knowledge of the company’s security systems, and as a result know how to avoid detection and cover their tracks. In fact, a Ponemon Institute report found that 43% of businesses take several months to even detect malicious misconduct; and by that point the perpetrators have already done thousands of dollars in damages.

The solution:

Identity and access management systems are a great way to make sure that only authorised personnel can manipulate your company’s sensitive data. They allow you to keep malicious actors from seeing company secrets or accessing classified HR files.

Even when an employee no longer works for your company, you need to disable all their access points to company facilities, accounts, applications, and data. So it’s critical that you establish thorough termination procedures.

However, proactively monitoring user activity is really the key to successfully identifying and stopping malicious actors; and there are plenty of software programs that can help you find out how employees interact with your network.

For example, if an employee is logging in at odd hours, transferring unusually large files, or taking a lot more “business calls,” they may be up to no good. And you should pay extra attention to those with top-level security clearance; as there’s a good chance they can cripple your company if they decide to turn against you.

Negligent employees

While the term insider threats conjures up images of revenge-seeking workers sabotaging their former employers’ network, negligent employees are usually to blame. These trusted yet unwitting insiders mean no ill-will to your organisation; but their poor security habits jeopardise your company’s safety.

They’re often the people who set weak passwords like “123456” and use them across several accounts. The ones who carelessly click on email links without assessing whether the message is legitimate. The types who post work selfies and share corporate information online or log into work emails and accounts while connected to unsecured wireless networks.

Human errors such as these usually stem from employees being unaware of security best practices and companies failing to employ strong internal security measures.

The solution:

There are several ways to mitigate the impact of negligent employees. For starters, anti-phishing and content-filtering software protect users from accidentally opening dangerous emails and websites; and encryption systems secure the integrity and confidentiality of data should absent-minded employees ever lose their laptops or mobile devices.

And speaking of mobile devices, there are numerous management systems that allow you to monitor company-registered phones and tablets to ensure users cannot access sensitive files outside the company network.

But perhaps the most effective way to encourage security best practices is through comprehensive security training. This involves teaching employees to set strong and unique passwords across all their accounts; educating them about how to avoid the latest online scams, and instructing them on how to appropriately handle sensitive data. For optimal results; these training sessions should be conducted monthly so employees are constantly reminded of the issues they may inadvertently cause.

False insiders

These are outsiders assuming the role of a trusted employee. They manifest themselves most commonly in phishing scams; whereby hackers dupe employees into divulging authentic login credentials. Once inside, the hacker, now masquerading as an employee, can access files and disable security programs without being detected.

The solution:

Closely monitoring network activity is really the only way to uncover and shut down this type of threat. Apart from that, network, full-disk, and file encryption systems must be applied; in order to prevent false insiders from gaining unfettered access to everything.

Unreliable partners

Similar to negligent employees, business partners like managed IT providers pose a huge threat to your firm because they have access to your company’s network. So if their cybersecurity protocols aren’t as tightly controlled; their networks could provide hackers with easy gateways into yours.

The solution:

These threats often come from subpar IT service providers. As such, make sure you perform comprehensive background checks on any company you plan on working with.

Checking online review boards and testimonials is a good start, but to get a better idea of their services, ask them to provide a service-level agreement (SLA). This is a written contract that details what the service provider has access to, who will be working on your network, and what security and uptime guarantees you can expect from them. This will help you determine whether their services and staff can be trusted.

One lesson you should take away from this is that insider threats can ruin your company. So while preparing / reviewing your security strategy; make sure to include address malicious actors and negligent employees as well.

At Empower IT, we understand that the risks caused by your employees and associates are just as dangerous, if not more so, than external cyberattacks. That’s why we offer the finest access management software, monitoring tools, encryption systems, security support, and SLAs around! Call us today to mitigate the impact of insider threats.