What is an Insider Threat?.
Insider threat is a catch-all term for any vulnerability or risk to an organization’s security that is internal. Insider threats usually originate from current employees, though they can also come from contractors, freelancers, other third parties, and even customers with access to a company’s internal network. Although they can take many shapes, insider threats usually fall under two main categories: accidental or malicious.
Accidental threats stem from situations where data is lost or damaged due to negligence or being misled, such as files being unintentionally deleted, employees falling victims to external hacks or phishing attempts, or inadvertently sharing sensitive data with outsiders. Malicious threats come from employees or other actors that are actively trying to harm an organization, either through their data, their network, or their internal systems.
In some cases, threats may come from regular employees who have been subverted by outsiders through extortion or financial incentives. In many others, however, threats may originate from disgruntled current or former employees, or others who feel wronged and justified taking revenge.
For organizations, most security concerns are about protecting against outside threats, as they are the most visible. This “fortress mentality” means that external protections may be nearly impregnable, but inside users might have free rein to do what they like within a system. However, internal security may be more crucial, since a user with access to an organization’s network can wreak havoc and escape before they’re even noticed.
Insider Threats in Cyber Security.
In any organization, insider threats are generally the result of lax security practices, lapses in judgment, or simply a lack of clarity about data safety. In a vast majority of cases, the culprit is human error. This can come from something as simple as sharing an email loaded with malware or using unsafe collaboration apps – such as cloud storage platforms (think OneDrive, Dropbox), messaging tools (think Slack, Teams), Enterprise Social Networks (think Yammer, Huddle) – that allow malicious actors into your organization. However, there are some factors that can make the problem even worse:
- Unsecured software: Organizations use several different applications every day, but don’t always worry about making sure it remains as secure as possible. Software can become unsafe if it isn’t updated frequently, or if it’s a third-party app installed by employees without consulting with IT beforehand. In addition, several enterprises take comfort in using the built-in security of these apps. However, this security is severely inferior to the offering of cybersecurity vendors which excel in this aspect. This means that “not-typical” breaches are not identified, increasing the level of threat to the company.
- Unsecured devices:While company computers, tablets, and phones may be secure, the bring your own device (BYOD) movement adds a new headache for many organizations’ security teams. Employees’ devices are not always secured, and though they may be careful with their apps, they still offer an easy pathway for malware, hackers, or other threat vectors to intrude.
- Poor security practices and user education: In many cases, it falls to employees to contribute to all-around safety. Many insider threats stem from workers who unwittingly share an email, or who allow unknown users to access an unauthorized collaboration app. These unknowing accidents reflect poor security standards and a lack of training.
Insider Threat Indicators.
Fortunately, there are several insider threat indicators worth monitoring that can help secure an organization’s data:
- An overtly disgruntled employee who’s showing discontent or talking about his hatred for an organization
- Employees who are taking frequent trips or holidays, which can indicate industrial espionage, or a sudden, unusual change in financial circumstances
- Staff members who vocally and aggressively disagree with company policies
- Employees who are under unusual financial distress such as severe debt, family medical emergencies, and more
- Employees who suddenly and without cause leave the company might raise red flags in their activity over the previous few months
When it comes to trying to find any signs of potential threat from employees, the following measures need to be undertaken:
- First – it is essential to shake off the old paradigm of focusing on threats from the outside world only. Scanning all traffic, as well as internal communications is encouraged in order to make sure no malicious insider-actor is wondering around your system.
- Monitor your internal communication channels such as messaging, on productivity and project management apps, and more. All of them pose the same high risk of threat.
- Employ combination of anti payload-based (files & URLs) and anti payloadless-based (mainly relies on text and social engineering) engines.
- Leverage advanced machine learning capabilities to identify deviations from normal activity.
How Perception Point Can Help.
Perception Point Advanced Collaboration Security is a next gen threat detection platform that can protect organizations from insider threats across mail and other collaboration tools. Our multi-layered approach covers all types of threats, including payload-based attacks (APTs, phishing, malware) and payloadless-based attacks (Impersonation, BEC attacks).
Our unique technology allows us to not only scan 100% of traffic – whether from inside and outside sources – it does so in minimal delay and without tampering the file, ensuring the best possible user experience. Our cloud-based solution is deployed within minutes and can meet any scale, while saving cyber security costs.
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