The Rise of the Insider Threat

Many view the services of cyber security specialists as a way to protect against faceless, nameless hackers who are sending harmful attacks externally. By putting up walls around your network, and manning them on your behalf, these companies keep your organisation safe from attack, and breaches of confidential data. An issue that is becoming more and more prevalent in the security industry though is the insider attack. It has highlighted the fact that just because the wall is up, it doesn’t mean that you are safe from a data breach, either from an intentional act or an accidental one.

When a cyber security strategy is introduced, it is vital that both external and internal threats are incorporated. Anyone who has access to your data and files is a potential risk, whether they have criminal intent or not. Just because the employee or partner in question is trusted, does not mean that that trust cannot be abused, which is why monitoring is a critical aspect of prevention.

By monitoring, recording and, most importantly, acting on analytics, you can prevent information from being leaked before the act happens, as opposed to cleaning up the resulting mess. For both deliberate abuse and the unintentional, analytics, and the alerts that are activated as a result of them, keep your business vigilant and protected.

The process is a simple one. Consistent analysis of vulnerable applications and the areas where sensitive data is stored means that should someone click on a folder they shouldn’t, or look to share data that is confidential, then an alert is activated, and a reaction can be immediately initiated. This system works equally well for Phishing Attacks, a situation where a click on a link triggers outsider access, meaning all contacts and data within the email client are compromised. Monitoring can prevent this, by preventing this outbound message being sent.

The key is separating who are rogue employees intent on harming the organisation, and which are innocent, but ignorant. The far greater risk is those who have little understanding of what they are doing, which is why an equally important prevention method from insider attacks is actually education. Only by teaching employees exactly what acts can be harmful, and the safe way to deal with confidential data, can such a huge percentage of insider breaches be prevented.

Education is something that should be applicable to companies of every size, and in every industry. Whether you believe it or not, the data you hold, both personally and on behalf of your client, is valuable, and can be exploited by those with a desire to harm. From small SME’s storing client contact details, tender applications and account information, to multinational company’s developing major technological advancements, or storing a yet unpatented piece of innovation, should these details fall into the wrong hands, it can prove hugely detrimental in a number of ways.

Significant breaches are regularly paraded through the media, with simple explanations as to how a breach could have been prevented. A major financial services company could have avoided a breach through the simple introduction of a dual password security fix, for example, preventing an employee’s login details from being stolen and information compromised. Equally, a telecoms multinational could have avoided bad press by monitoring their overseas call centres more vigilantly, preventing the sale of customer records.

The rapid increase in insider threats doesn’t have to fill you with suspicion or fear. Yes, distinguishing what is normal behaviour by an employee, and what is sinister, may seem a daunting task, but in reality it is a far simpler process than you may think. Monitoring is the only fool proof way of tracking when data is accessed and preventing its release. With a system in place to record and alert when employees are where they shouldn’t be, you can quickly see what risks there are and avert catastrophe. By educating too, it is makes differentiating between those who are unaware of their actions, and those with more nefarious intentions, that much easier.

If you would like more information on insider threat please get in touch, either call our team on 0844 586 0040 or fill out the form on the right.