Insider threats: Protecting your business from the dangers within

Insider threats: Protecting your business from the dangers within

The biggest threats to your organization may not always be the competition or cybercriminals — they may be the ones sitting comfortably in your office. A malicious staff member could use their access to steal and sell sensitive information about your consumers or products. Or a negligent employee could click on a link in a phishing email and inadvertently expose company secrets. According to Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, insiders are responsible for almost a fourth of all security incidents.

Insider threats may not seem as dangerous as external security breaches, but they can harm your business in many ways. Let’s take a closer look at what insider threats are and how to mitigate them.

Types of insider threats

An insider threat is any risk caused by the actions of a person working for or with an organization, such as an employee or a third-party vendor. Insider threats generally fall into three categories:

  • Malicious behavior – when an individual intends to cause harm and acts on it, either for financial or personal gain (e.g., a terminated employee selling trade secrets to a competitor)
  • Negligent behavior – when an individual does not follow proper IT procedures (e.g., a staff member leaving their business laptop unlocked and unattended in public)
  • Accidental behavior – when an individual performs careless actions that inadvertently cause
  • security breaches (e.g., a worker using devices that aren’t patched with the latest security updates)

These behaviors can expose your business to serious risks, including severe financial and reputational damage. To protect your employees, facilities, systems, and data, it’s imperative to improve security awareness and ensure that your IT team stays on top of unusual activities.

Addressing insider threats

Each organization has its own set of protocols for dealing with different employee behaviors, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to mitigating these security risks. However, it is important for all organizations to keep in mind the following elements that make up a holistic approach to protecting against insider threats:

  • Technology – utilizing technologies such as monitoring software and data loss prevention solutions to prevent, detect, and respond to potential incidents
  • Processes – establishing processes and procedures to easily address and escalate leads as well as analyze trends to improve your overall cybersecurity strategy
  • Policies – drafting, enforcing, and regularly updating insider threat policies that all stakeholders must adhere to
  • Training – developing and implementing a robust cybersecurity awareness training program

Protecting your organization

It's difficult to completely eliminate insider threats, but here are some steps you can take to keep your organization’s security from being compromised.

1. Restrict access to sensitive data. The easiest way to reduce the risk of insider threats is to limit the number of people who can access critical business data. Only allow employees to access and use the information they need to perform their respective tasks.

2. Provide cybersecurity awareness training for employees. It's important that everyone in your organization understands how easy it is to unwittingly become an insider threat. They should also be aware of the ways to recognize suspicious activities and deliberate threats. Cybersecurity awareness training also equips them with the knowledge and skills necessary to identify and protect themselves against various cyberthreats.

3. Establish and enforce security policies and procedures. Clearly and consistently communicating organizational policies and procedures will reduce the chances of employees inadvertently or purposely harming your business. You must ensure that policies are fair, and sanctions for any violation are not unreasonable.

4. Use monitoring and auditing tools. These technologies let you view and control your employees’ data access, enabling you to detect unusual or suspicious activities. For instance, you can employ an app that logs when, where, and who accessed a particular file or program. Using these tools makes it easy to audit users and assign accountability for irresponsible actions.

5. Periodically test for and assess potential vulnerabilities. Performing regular internal and external vulnerability tests and assessments ensures that your network and systems are always protected. An IT expert can help you implement these necessary protective measures.

To significantly reduce the risk of insider and other cybersecurity threats to your Las Vegas business, work with a trusted IT partner like Kortek Solutions. We offer comprehensive security solutions, including planning, implementation, auditing, monitoring, and management. Contact us today to learn more!