Insider threats are a serious concern for businesses of all sizes. These threats can come from current or former employees and result in lost data, stolen funds, or compromised systems.
In order to protect your business from insider threats, it is important to understand what they are and how to spot them. This blog post will discuss insider threats, the different types of insiders, and how to prevent them from harming your business.
Who Is An Insider?
An insider is a current or former employee, contractor, or business partner who has or had access to the company’s network, systems, or data. An insider might be someone like this:
- A person with a badge or access device.
- A person to whom your organization granted network access.
- A person who creates products.
- A person who has knowledge about your organization’s fundamentals.
- A person with access to protected information.
What Is An Insider Threat?
An insider threat is a current or former employee or contractor with authorized access to an organization’s network who misuses that access to affect the organization negatively.
Insider threats can come in many forms, from malicious people who deliberately set out to harm the company to well-meaning employees who make careless mistakes.
In either case, the end result is the same: sensitive data is compromised, and the company’s security is at risk. There are three main types of insider threats: malicious insiders, accidental insiders, and moles.
A malicious insider is someone who causes damage to the firm intentionally by abusing data. Malicious insiders are more difficult to detect than external dangers since they must conceal their tracks and steal or damage data without being caught.
They’re also more difficult to detect because they have legitimate access to data for their job.
Malicious insider threats may be collaborators or lone wolves.
Collaborator: Collaborators are users who participate in an action to damage a company intentionally. A competitor, a nation-state organized criminal network, or an individual could be the third party. The collaborator’s actions would result in the disclosure of sensitive information or the disruption of business operations.
Lone Wolf: Lone wolves are individuals who operate independently and without outside assistance. They can be quite harmful since they usually have high-level system access, such as database administrators.
Accidental insiders are employees who unintentionally jeopardize the organization’s data. They might, for example, click on a phishing email and provide their login credentials to a hacker.
Or they might lose their laptop, which contains sensitive company information. While accidental insiders may not mean to harm the company, their actions can still result in serious data breaches.
Accidental insider threats may be pawns or goofs.
Pawn: Pawns are people who have been fooled into acting maliciously through social engineering methods such as spear phishing. These unintentional behaviors might include downloading malware to their computer or providing sensitive information to an impostor.
Goof: Goofs are people who purposefully do potentially harmful things but have no malicious intent. They are smug, ignorant, and/or inept users who fail to recognize the importance of following security standards and procedures. A user might be a goof if they store sensitive client data on their personal device, even though it is against company policy.
A mole is an impostor who has successfully infiltrated a privileged network, despite being technically an outsider. This is someone from the outside posing as a worker or partner at your company.
What Are Some Potential Insider Threat Indicators (Insider threat Detection)?
The following are some indicators that an insider may be a threat:
Insider Threat Indicators (Non-Technical)
Anomalous behavior at the network level might indicate a hidden danger. Similarly, if an employee appears to be dissatisfied or holds a grudge, or begins to undertake more duties with undue zeal, this could be evidence of wrongdoing. Insider threat indicators that can be tracked include:
- Logging in at unusual hours
- Transferring too much data via the network
- Accessing unusual resources
- Unexplained Financial Gain
Insider Threat Indicators (Technical)
When a data breach occurs, an insider frequently undertakes several measures to conceal their traces so that they are not discovered. These modifications to the environment can suggest a possible security risk and identify anomalies that might be indications of data theft.
A few indicators include:
- Backdoors for allowing remote access to data or internal access.
- Installing hardware or software to access their system remotely
- Changing passwords for unapproved usernames and email addresses
- Disabling antivirus tools and firewalls without authorization
- Installing malware and unauthorized software
- Accessing another user’s devices.
Who Is At Risk of Insider Threats?
Insider threats are a threat to any organization, but certain industries store and handle more sensitive information. These businesses face greater fines and significant brand damage if the data is stolen.
Larger organizations are more susceptible to data loss, especially if they have access to sensitive information. Intellectual property, trade secrets, consumer data, staff knowledge, and more might all be sold off on darknet markets by an insider threat.
The more valuable information a company keeps, the more likely it is to be targeted.
A few common industries at high risk of insider threats:
- Technical Services
- Financial Services
Types Of Insider Threats
Insider threats are different from other types of attacks because the attacker isn’t always motivated by money. In some situations, the attacker is a disgruntled employee who simply wants to harm the company.
Insider threats come in four forms. They aren’t inherently evil, but they can still cause significant revenue and brand damage.
The malicious types of insider threats are:
- Sabotage: The insider threat’s goal is to damage a system or destroy data.
- Fraud: When crime or modifications to data are intended to deceive, the offender’s aim is fraudulent and is typically meant to bring corporate disruption.
- Theft of intellectual property: When a business has proprietary information, it is valuable to an attacker. An attacker who intends to get that data would be able to cause long-term financial damage.
- Espionage: If an attacker steals your sensitive trade secrets, files, and data to sell to competitors, the stolen information is vulnerable to espionage.
What Advantages Do Insider Threats Have Over Others?
Insider threats like employees or people with legitimate access to data are difficult to detect. These people benefit from having authorized access, so they do not need to overcome firewalls, gain entry via security policies, or breach cybersecurity infrastructure to obtain and steal data.
The most dangerous users are those with high access privileges.
These individuals can steal data without being noticed by anyone. And they aren’t always employees. Vendors, contractors, partners, and other persons with high-level access across all sensitive data may be considered privileged users.
How To Protect Against An Insider Attack: Best Practices
You can take the following steps to help reduce the risk of insider threats:
Protect critical assets: These include tangible and intangible items, such as systems, technology, facilities, and people. And intangible assets, including customer data for vendors, trade secrets, programming codes, and internal manufacturing methods.
Try and develop a comprehensive knowledge of your most important assets. Ask yourself questions like what critical resources do we have? and is it possible to establish a hierarchy for our assets?
Enforce policies: It’s critical to set out organizational rules in writing so that you may enforce them and avoid misunderstandings. Everyone in the organization must be familiar with security procedures and have a clear understanding of their rights regarding intellectual property (IP).
Increase visibility: You can use deception technology to deceive an insider or imposter and gain insight into their actions by applying deception solutions. Deception technology can be used to discover a malicious insider or imposter and monitor their activities.
Promote culture changes: When it comes to preventing security breaches, it’s not only about technology; attitudes and beliefs also matter. To prevent carelessness and targets malicious actions, you should educate your staff about security hazards while also working to improve employee happiness.
Real-World Examples Of Insider Threats
Insider threats are a major concern for every business with vendors, staff, and contractors who have access to their internal data. Insider threats have hit some very large corporations. Some of these firms have strong cybersecurity defenses, but insider threats are difficult to control. A few examples of these organizations include:
- Tesla: According to an Elon Musk email, a malicious insider carried out “quite significant and damaging sabotage” to the Tesla system when they modified code to the Tesla Manufacturing Operating System and exported extremely sensitive Tesla data to third party providers.
- Facebook: In 2018, Facebook discovered that a security engineer was utilizing company resources and data to abuse women.
- Coca-Cola: A Coca-Cola employee was discovered to have illegally copied data from about 8000 employees to a personal external hard drive. After Coca-Cola became aware of the breach, it informed staff and gave free credit monitoring for a year.
- SunTrust Bank: A former SunTrust employee obtained 1.5 million names, addresses, phone numbers, and account balances for bank customers’ accounts. Other crucial information was not accessed; nevertheless, it put the bank and its clients at risk.
Need Protection Against Insider Threats? Contact Us!
We at GSI understand that stopping insider threats isn’t easy. That’s why we provide our clients with the most powerful detection and prevention tools available.! We have the experience and knowledge to help you secure your data and keep your business safe from insider threats. Contact our team of experts today!