What are the dangers of insider threats to your business?

What are the dangers of insider threats to your business?

There’s a popular notion that cyberattacks are only caused by external actors, such as cybercriminals. However, did you know that people within your company can also jeopardize your company’s cybersecurity? In this blog, we will discuss insider threats, the dangers they pose to your business, and the steps you can take to protect your business from them.

What is an insider threat?

An insider threat is a security risk that comes from within the organization. It normally involves a current or former employee or business partner who has access to sensitive information or privileged accounts within the organization’s IT network.

There are three types of insider threats:

1. Malicious insider

Also known as a turncloak, malicious insiders deliberately abuse their privileged access to steal information for financial or personal reasons. Examples include a disgruntled former contractor who introduces malicious software into the organization’s network or an employee who sells sensitive data to a competitor.

2. Careless insider

Careless insiders are those who unknowingly expose the system to outside threats. Their actions are the result of human error, poor judgment, unintentional aiding, phishing, or stolen credentials. For example, an employee who intends no harm may open a malicious file and infect your network with a virus or ransomware.

3. A mole

A mole is an outsider but one who has gained access to the organization’s systems. They may pose as a partner, vendor, employee, or contractor, to obtain privileged authorization they normally do not have access to.

What are some real-life examples of insider threat attacks?

From 2008 to 2019, two General Electric (GE) employees stole company trade secrets, which included data on advanced computer models, pricing, and marketing information. They did this by downloading thousands of files from the company’s servers, uploading them to their private cloud storage, and sending the data to personal email addresses. When GE discovered the attack, it reported the incident to the FBI. The threat actors were subsequently fined and jailed.

And in July 2020, cybercriminals gathered information on Twitter employees. The hackers then impersonated Twitter IT administrators and persuaded the employees to disclose their account credentials. Using this information, the cybercriminals logged into Twitter’s admin tools, changed the passwords of various high-profile accounts and used them to conduct a Bitcoin scam.

Quiz: How prepared is your business for cyberattacks?

How can businesses prevent insider threats?

Doing the following can help protect your business from insider threats:

1. Protect your critical assets

These include networks, systems, confidential data (e.g., customer information, employee details, schematics, and detailed strategic plans), facilities, and people. Understand each critical asset, rank them in order of priority, and determine the current state of each asset's protection. Highest priority assets should be given the strongest level of protection from insider threats.

2. Detect abnormal user and device behavior

You can use User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) to mitigate the risk of insider threats. It works by establishing baseline behaviors that indicate uncompromised IT systems. Once these baselines are established, real-time monitoring can detect abnormal user activities as they happen so you can immediately take appropriate measures.

3. Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Username and password combinations are no longer enough to verify users’ identities because these can easily be stolen via phishing scams or data breaches.

With MFA, users are required to provide at least one more proof of their identity, such as a one-time code, physical key, or a facial or fingerprint scan. Enabling MFA ensures that even if a cybercriminal acquires a user’s login credentials, they won’t be able to access the account without providing the other factors.

4. Train your employees

Conduct cybersecurity awareness training sessions regularly to help your employees stay updated with the latest cybersecurity news, trends, and best practices. Customize your programs based on their roles, interests, and cybersecurity knowledge to ensure that your messages are resonating well.

5. Develop a proper exit process

When employees leave your company, you need to establish clear exit procedures. This includes disabling user accounts, revoking access privileges to company systems, and collecting any company-issued equipment.

What’s more, have exiting employees sign a nondisclosure agreement and discuss the consequences of noncompliance. These processes minimize the chances of a former employee hijacking your systems for their own gain.

You can also turn to a reliable managed IT services provider like Founders Technology Group to help you mitigate the risks of insider threats. We will analyze your business operations and data access policies to identify risks that could result in data breaches. Book a FREE, no-obligation consultation from us today.