Types of insider threats and how to stop them

Types of insider threats and how to stop them

With cybercrime threats on an annual rise, statistics show a predicted $124 billion in cybersecurity spending by the end of 2019. Companies — especially small businesses — are now heavily investing in various hardware, software, and insurance strategies to fend off these persistent attacks.

While most people believe these threats are external intrusions, studies reveal a significant portion of these to be insider affairs. In fact, a 2019 report by Verizon Data Breach Investigations found that 34% of all breaches in 2018 were caused by internal threats.

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Below, we detail the three main types of insider threats, and what your business can do to prevent them.

Third-party access

Those contracted to work for your business will likely have some degree of access to your company’s network and sensitive files. Though your business may have strong security protocols in place, this doesn’t guarantee the same for your supply chain.

A third-party contractor with weak cybersecurity is left vulnerable to potential data breaches, creating an entry for hackers into your connected networks. Also known as supply-chain or value-chain attacks, this cybercrime strategy often goes unnoticed by contractors until your data has been compromised.

Department store chain Target was one of the higher-profile businesses affected by such methods in 2013. Hackers were able to get ahold of over 100 million customer credentials — including credit and debit card information — by breaching the network of a third-party HVAC vendor.

Employee negligence

Similar to third-party vendor breaches, employees lacking sufficient training or knowledge in cybersecurity are more likely to commit negligent mistakes or exhibit risky behavior.

Careless oversights can include an email to the wrong recipient, use of public, unsecured Wi-Fi networks, or falling prey to phishing scams. Statistics show that two in three insider attacks are often caused by employee or contractor mistakes, causing further damage if companies lacked the appropriate safeguards or disaster protocols.

This highlights the importance of not only being aware of the latest cybersecurity guidelines and threats, but ensuring your employees are up to speed, as well.

Malicious intent

The most dangerous type of insider threat is employees intent on harming your business. Due to gaining the general trust of the business and their expertise around its security codes and protocols, criminal insiders are often harder to detect.

There are many reasons why workers may resort to such behavior, including retaliation against an employer, or to simply gain financial benefit. A Gartner study revealed that 62% of such insiders were known as “second streamers,” or those seeking a second source of income. These criminals were also likely to use more underhanded methods of data theft, exfiltrating information at slower, inconspicuous rates to avoid raising any flags.

On rare occasions, insider criminals may even collaborate with cybercriminals. These incidents comprise a mere 16.75% of all collaborative criminal activity, though is still worth noting, given the rising trend of employees recruited by professional cybercriminals on the dark web.

How do I prevent these insider threats?

Preventing these common data threats comes down to three mandatory practices: ensuring strong physical and digital safeguards on company information; training employees in best security practices; and partnering exclusively with trustworthy, credible vendors.

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Ensure you have the right monitoring tools in place to track both worker and third-party activity with stringent access restrictions to accounts and networks. Plenty of companies also use behavior analysis tools — technologies that use artificial intelligence to detect any employee deviations in system use and data consumption.

Having physical security measures such as surveillance cameras or limited access to server rooms can also help diminish the risk of data theft. With third-party contractors, make sure their access is limited to the necessary networks and data, and terminate such permissions once their partnership is complete.

It’s important, however, to ensure your workers are also pulling their weight in data security. Have them understand the risks of common cybersecurity threats, and implementing best practices such as strong, regularly changed passwords and avoiding company data use on personal devices.

Protect your data from insider threats

Ensuring you have the proper tools, management, and recovery strategies is essential to protecting your business from both insider and external threats. We offer businesses in Connecticut with high-grade methods of defending their data from cyberattacks and potential threats — from firewalls to encryption software. Keep your company secure and get in touch with us today.

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