insider threats

Do You Know How to Respond to an Insider Threat?

This is the era of technology, competition, and reaching the highest levels of success. Gone are the days where companies faced security threats only from the outside. Nowadays, their own employees or clients or anyone who has access to confidential data, a.k.a. the insider, can also cause an equal amount of damage, if not more. These types of threats are commonly known as insider threats and have been rising in popularity.

According to CA Technologies, 31% of organizations believe that insider threats cause more damage when compared to 14%, who believe damages from external threats are more acute [1]. Yet, despite this, most employers still fail to mitigate insider threats.

This article will discuss what an insider threat is, the different types of insider threats, the common indicators to look out for, and how to mitigate them with an incident response plan.

What Is an Insider Threat – Definition & Example

An insider threat is a threat to an organization’s security and its clients’ personal data from the malicious actor present within the organization. While many organizations implement cybersecurity policies and protocols when it comes to sharing data with outsiders, most organizations fail to focus on the access granted to individual employees working within the organization.

Employees working on the office premises have access to the company’s confidential information as well as the clients’ personal data. Insider threats are not the consequences of accidental actions but deliberate and malicious intent by an employee or contractor to use their authorized access to compromise the organization’s information security.

Types of Insider Threats

Lack of knowledge leads to mistakes which may result in loss. Being aware of all the types of insider threats will help you deal with situations that may occurr. Here is a list of the different types of insider threats with examples:

  • Turncloaks: A turncloak steals information and sells it to competitors to make money.
  • Disgruntled Employee: This type of employee may sell company details for various reasons such as lack of recognition, long pending appraisal, less salary hike, poor management, etc.
  • The Leaver: When exiting an organization, it is important that the company keeps track of the type of information the employee might retain or continue to have access to. The negligence of the technical team and ineffective exit formalities can be cause for an insider threat.

Common Indicators of Insider Threats

Being attentive and informed about what is happening in your company always helps. This will help you remain cautious and take preventive measures. Such awareness will also help you mitigate the threat via an incident response plan.

Here are some warning signs you should take note of in an employee:

  • Reduction in productivity, isolation from colleagues and managers, and an agitated mood.
  • Joining a competitor or starting a business similar to yours.
  • Spending extra hours at the office, when no one is around, before leaving. This could be a sign of a turnclock.

How to Mitigate Insider Threats?

It is essential for the organization to close all visible gaps by gathering security data in a centralized monitoring solution to ensure that insider threats are effectively detected.

After the data has been centralized, it becomes easy to observe and detect unusual user behavior. Having enough historical data is also important because it provides a baseline for normal behavior for individual users.

Behavioral anomalies help the security team identify when a user becomes malicious. Assigning risk scores is a great way to provide SOC teams with the capability to monitor risk-taking in an organization. If the security team adopts a user-focused view, they can promptly determine the insider threat activity and manage it on time. This is one way to manage user risk from a centralized location rather than attempting to do it manually.

What to Do in the Event of an Insider Threat?

Having an incident response process in place will help your cybersecurity team react to the incident on time should an event occur. This will help the incident response team understand and know who must be involved in the process, who has the authority to do what, who should coordinate with whom, what action must be taken, and what improvements must be made to the network following the incident. The overall goal of an incident response procedure is to handle and respond to a security incident.

To get started, certify yourself or your employees with a training program that will take you through the incident response process step by step. The Certified Incident Handler (ECIH) program by EC-Council is your best choice, as it has been designed in cooperation with experts in cybersecurity and incident handling and response worldwide. With ECIH, you can gain insight into a comprehensive incident management training program at the professional level that imparts the expertise and information organizations need to mitigate the effects from both a financial and reputational viewpoint when managing any incident.



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