All businesses need to manage data theft, misuse, and loss. It is relatively easy to prepare for security and data recovery when you anticipate threats from outside. However, insider threat management is an equally urgent matter; arguably, it’s more dangerous since insiders have privileged access that gives them the ability to cause more damage.
According to the 2020 Insider Threats report of the Ponemon Institute, it cost companies worldwide $11.5 million to address insider threat incidents in 2020, up from $8.76 million in 2018. To prevent these steep costs, here are things organisations can do to protect sensitive data from threats.
Recognise the types of insider threats
Threats like these typically fall into two categories; negligent and malicious threats. Negligent insiders make up the bulk of attacks, according to the Ponemon report. You can further divide these into accidental or non-malicious negligent insider threats.
Accidental insiders cause damage because they genuinely did not know how to do a process. Meanwhile, non-malicious insiders knowingly break policies without intending to harm the company.
Examples of negligent attacks include an employee falling victim to social engineering attacks or phishing scams, unintentionally sharing sensitive information with unauthorised individuals, or misplacing printed documents or data storage devices with confidential information.
Meanwhile, malicious insiders are a more serious concern. They’re the type who would knowingly damage the company through sabotage, theft, fraud, and espionage. There are many motivators for malicious insiders. They could be disgruntled employees who want to hurt their employers, individuals looking for financial incentives from competitors, or people who are willing to sell the company data to threat actors.
Examples of malicious attacks include selling the company IP to competitors, stealing company PII to sell to third parties on the internet, and other acts of digital or physical sabotage.
How to manage insider threat risks
Insider threat management, at its core, is about establishing clear expectations for employees. Aside from hiring managed IT services, you must provide workers with clear guidance, on handling data. When you do, they will know how to handle sensitive data appropriately. Here are some things you should require of your employees.
Ensure credentials management
Train employees to protect their accounts from unauthorised use. All workers must be clear on lockout policies for workstations, password management, and account or credentials sharing.
Have acceptable use and data protection policies
Employers must provide guidelines for behaviour on the company network, and must also disclose when they use technology to monitor their employees for behaviours that constitute security risks. Aside from this, workers should be aware of the company’s data protection policies. They must know the company’s expectations for storing, accessing, or using confidential data.
Have an employee offboarding process
Employees who resign or whom the company has fired are also data risks. There should be detailed IT and HR procedures for decommissioning their user privileges. Companies should also monitor any irregular or large file transfers, so the employees who leave do not become malicious insiders.
Have technical safeguards in place
Your company would benefit from employee monitoring software that would establish a baseline for normal behaviour in the organisation. Tools like these help detect large data transfers, attempts to access restricted data, and other similar deviations.
It would also benefit the company to use privileged access management solutions. With these, people only get access to the tools required to perform their roles.
Finally, companies should use data loss prevention tools, which enhance restriction capabilities and improve data visibility. DLP tools can identify high-risk data, track the lifecycle of protected files, and prevent unauthorised data transfers.
Insider threat management is a serious concern for businesses, especially in today’s connected world. When you neglect to protect company data, it could cause untold amounts of damage to you. Prevent this by enforcing critical insider threat training and setting expectations with employees regarding confidential information.
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