How To Protect Your Business from Insider Threats What kind of internal threats could you face and how to effectively prevent them from impacting your business?

How To Protect Your Business from Insider Threats

Nowadays, it is not just external hackers that you should be concerned about as a business-owner. It is possible that some of the biggest threats to the data and system security of your organisation could come from within. In fact, there was a study conducted by McAfee and Intel that discovered that around 43% of the attacks and breaches security professionals that participated in the survey dealt with were internal.

Around half of those were malicious and intentional, with the other rest being considered unintentional mistakes. More worryingly is the fact that about 68% of the breaches were severe enough to impact the businesses in question negatively, either financially or by putting them in the public eye.

What Kind Internal Threats Can You Face?

Before we look at ways to prevent them, it is important to understand what you are up against. There are two very distinct types of threats - the malicious and intentional and the unintentional.

Within these two types, there are various forms of attacks.

When speaking about malicious attacks for instance, there are three kinds you may face:

  • Data theft
  • Sabotage
  • Fraud

The kind of unintentional threats includes:

  • Equipment and physical record loss
  • Disclosure of sensitive information by accident.
  • Falling prey to phishing scams

Ways to Prevent Internal Threats

Create A Team Responsible For The Implementation And Management Of A Policy For Insider Threat Cyber Security Across Your Organisation.

You need to protect more than just your IT team from insider threats and you will need input and information from various departments including management, security, data owners, IT, legal and HR.

An issue that many organisations have is assuming that the IT department should have full responsibility for the security of data, when it is more effective to make it a cross-departmental responsibility. By putting a team together that represents all departments who have shared information and making that team responsible for implementing and updating your policy, you make it easier all round.

Reduce Risk By Recruiting and Training Individuals More Effectively

As insider threats are caused, whether deliberately or not, by employees, they are unique and therefore make your HR department even more crucial in protecting your company. They are the department that are more likely to be aware or informed if a member of your company starts acting suspiciously or has personal situations outside of work that might mean they become a higher risk for your business.

Your HR team can have a unique part in protecting your business throughout an employee's time with your company. From hiring, through to training and their career and when they leave.

In the beginning, background checks are obviously used before hiring people. Checking for criminal convictions and credit issues are musts.

After hiring, HR can play a part in ensuring, along with IT and management, that new employees are constantly working hard to follow the policies in place for security. Even small beaches or bad habits should be dealt with effectively when they occur.

Don't Neglect The Physical Side of Security

As there is often a lot of emphasis on the cyber side of protection against hacking, the physical side can be overlooked. Any information held on servers, computers, smartphones, tablets and drives are much easier to take through physical access, meaning physical documents are especially at risk.

Therefore attention should be paid to the physical security. Remember, just because an individual is employed by your company, it doesn't mean they should access everything. Smart cards are helpful, but can be cloned and hacked so CCTV and an on-site security team should be employed too.

Remember To Consider That Threats Can Come From Anywhere in your Supply Chain

It's worth remembering, that an insider could be anyone who has any level of access to your company's data or network; but is not actually considered an employee. More businesses are creating partnerships with related companies and hiring contractors, presenting new opportunities for attacks.

Therefore, it is crucial to strike the right balance between having a sufficient level of security in place to reduce risk and quick on-boarding. You need to also put into practice a robust and sound off-boarding strategy so that data access is removed from individuals and organisations when they no longer need it.

Additionally, security should be factored from the very outset of establishing a partnership or using a contractor. Assess how safe they actually are, because their security is just as important as your own.

It may feel like there is a lot to digest above, but as security and data are important aspects of your business; it would be wrong to take them for granted. More than just IT health checks against external threats is needed. Just by following the above steps, in what is clearly not as exhaustive a list as it could be, you can help to reduce significantly the risk of insider threats to your business.


About Andrew Mabbitt

Andrew Mabbitt is a cybersecurity expert at Fidus Information Security. As an ethical hacker, his job is to detect and rectify security vulnerabilities before malicious hackers do.

View all posts by Andrew Mabbitt

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