As a business owner, you invest a lot of time, effort, and money into building your company. You work hard to create a positive company culture, hire the best employees, and implement effective security measures to protect your business from external threats. While external threats such as ransomware and phishing attacks are commonly expected, few organizations consider insider threats to be a security priority.
Insider threats can cause equally the same amount of serious damage to your business as external threats. IBM found the yearly average cost of an internal data breach is $11.45 million, and 63% of these incidents are caused by negligence.
In this article, we'll explore some practical tips and strategies for safeguarding your company against insider threats, so you can focus on growing your business with peace of mind.
Understanding insider threats
Insider threats are cybersecurity incidents caused by people with authorized access to an organization's systems or information. These individuals could be employees, contractors, or even trusted vendors and the threats can be intentional or unintentional:
- Intentional insider threats refer to individuals who deliberately cause harm to the organization. This could be due to financial gain, revenge, or ideological reasons.
- Unintentional insider threats refer to individuals who accidentally cause harm to the organization. This could be due to negligence, ignorance, or human error.
Types of insider threats
Insider threats can be classified into four categories, based on the actors and their motivations:
These are employees who are careless in their duties. They may not follow security policies and procedures, use weak passwords, or fall for phishing scams. Careless employees may unintentionally cause harm to the organization, such as exposing sensitive information or introducing malware into the system. Research has shown the highest number of security breaches comes from careless user actions.
These are employees who are unhappy with their job or the company. They may have been denied promotions, raises, or other benefits. Disgruntled employees may intentionally cause harm to the organization, such as stealing sensitive information, deleting data, or spreading malware.
These are individuals who deliberately cause harm to the organization for personal gain or to benefit a third party. They may be motivated by financial gain, revenge, or ideological reasons. Malicious insiders may steal sensitive information, sabotage the company's operations, or distribute malware.
These are individuals or companies who have access to the organization's systems or information. Third-party vendors may include contractors, consultants, or suppliers. They may inadvertently cause harm to the organization, such as exposing sensitive information or introducing malware into the system.
Signs of insider threats
It can be challenging to detect insider threats, as the individuals causing harm often have authorized access to the organization's systems or information. However, some signs can indicate the presence of insider threats, including:
Unusual network activity: This could be an increase in data transfers, logins, or file access. It could also be an attempt to access restricted areas or systems.
Changes in behavior: This could be an employee who suddenly becomes withdrawn, angry, or hostile. It could also be an employee who works unusual hours or takes unauthorized time off.
Violations of security policies: This could be an employee who shares their password, uses unapproved software, or accesses sensitive information unrelated to their job without authorization.
Financial irregularities: This could be an employee who is suddenly living beyond their means or has unexplained financial transactions.
Steps to safeguard your business against insider threats
Safeguarding your business against insider threats requires a comprehensive approach that includes policy, technology, and training. Here are some steps you can take to protect your company:
Creating a robust cybersecurity culture
Creating a security culture within your company involves promoting good security practices and raising awareness of the risks of insider threats. This can include:
- Developing a security policy: This should include guidelines for password management, access control, and data protection.
- Conducting background checks: This can help identify individuals who may pose a risk to the organization.
- Providing training and awareness: This can include security awareness training, phishing simulations, and regular reminders of good security practices.
Threat detection tools and strategies
Threat detection tools and technologies can help identify and prevent insider threats. These can include:
- User behavior analytics: This involves continuous monitoring of devices on the network to detect anomalies and potential insider threats.
- Implement access management: This involves monitoring and controlling who has access to sensitive information within the organization.
- Endpoint security: This involves securing personal devices, such as laptops and mobile phones, to prevent unauthorized access to the network.
Security awareness education
It is impossible to entirely eliminate the risk of human error, no matter what security measures your organization implements. Users remain a weak point in cybersecurity, which is why it is crucial to provide them with adequate training and guidance. Training employees to identify and report insider threats can help prevent and mitigate the risks of insider threats. This can include:
- Ensuring company security policies are frequently communicated and enforced
- Encouraging employees to report suspicious behavior: This can include reporting unusual network activity, changes in behavior, or violations of security policies.
- Conducting regular security awareness training: Employees must understand the difference between strong and weak passwords. They should also be educated about potential scams and phishing emails to avoid.
Protect your businesses from insider threats
Insider threats pose a significant risk to businesses, and it is essential to have a comprehensive strategy in place to safeguard your organization. Safeguarding your business against insider threats is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring, updating, and improvement. With the right policies, technologies, and training in place, you can shield your business from insider threats and ensure its long-term success. The cybersecurity experts at ThreatAdvice are dedicated to safeguarding your data and ensuring that your business is protected from potential insider cybersecurity threats.