Insider threats are a significant and increasing problem for organizations, as the human factor is often the most difficult to control and predict when it comes to data security and protection. With digitization, the amount of digital data is growing exponentially, and together with this, the number of systems and human interactions with the data is increasing too. More interaction involves exposing the data to more security vulnerabilities.
Organizations should start developing guidelines and implementing comprehensive insider threat programs to reduce risks while ensuring that they have the right balance between people, processes, and technology. Being proactive may allow organizations to catch malicious insiders and avoid data breaches caused by employee negligence, thus protecting their assets and reputation.
1. Security awareness
Ensuring that all employees are aware of the valuable asset they are dealing with and how they need to manage it securely is an essential step that organizations must consider. Security technology continues to progress, but human behavior changes much more slowly.
While educating entire teams with little to no technical background can be difficult, everybody should know the importance and best practices of cybersecurity within the company. Employees should be prepared to recognize phishing and other social media threat vectors, as well as how outside attackers might approach them.
2. Security policies
Clearly documented organizational policies are another critical aspect when looking to prevent insider threats. By enforcing these, it can also help to avoid misunderstandings. Policies should include procedures to prevent and detect malicious activity, as well as an incident response policy. A third-party access policy, account management, and password management policy are also extremely useful. When developing cybersecurity policy and procedures, companies should also consider locating where their sensitive data resides, monitoring data flows, and determine who can have access to confidential data.
3. Cybersecurity tools
Implementing robust technical controls are also an essential step in mitigating insider threats. To efficiently protect all assets, companies shouldn’t rely on a single solution. For a successful insider threat detection strategy, it is advised to combine several security tools that increase visibility and keep track of employee actions. These tools include User Activity Monitoring (UAM), Secure Information and Event Management Systems (SIEM), User Behavior Analytics (UBA) software, and Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions.
DLP software is intended to discover sensitive data, address data loss across multiple channels, prevent unintentional data disclosure, detect data use policy violations, and offer remediation actions. User Activity Monitoring tools are user-centric rather than data-centric, and unlike DLP solutions that manage data activity, UAM does not limit or reject any action. UBA software promises to identify potential insider threats before they happen, based on previous behaviors, but usually doesn’t provide any action outside of an alert when an insider threat risk has been detected. SIEM tools can track anomalies across an entire network and flag up dangerous events to the security teams; however, these tools are typically focused on spotting external threats, not insider threats.
When looking for solutions that help mitigate insider threats, organizations should consider the performance impact, the ease of management and deployment, stability and flexibility of any solution.
Insider threats can be challenging to identify and even can be even harder to stop them from causing harm to the company. However, by implementing preventive measures and best practices, organizations can mitigate common insider threats. By combining training, organizational alignment, and technology, the risk of these threats can be significantly reduced.