Organizations tend to only focus on setting cyber security measures for potential threats and intrusions made by external circumstances. Unfortunately, they undermine the possibilities of a trusted employee launching a cyber-attack against them. This negligence resulted in 34% of businesses being affected by an insider threat on a yearly basis. This cyber security risk does not only leave the organization vulnerable but is also viewed as an easy target for internal and external threats.
Whoever has authorized access to sensitive data, either it being an employee or a partner (which sometimes referred to as Third-party risk), is considered trusted and hence, can generally fall into an internal threat, the difference would be on the intent: is it malicious? or are just merely being irresponsible.
Keep on reading to learn more about the two types of insider threats and how you could prevent being exposed to their threats.
Two types of insider threats:
So, let us begin with the definition of an insider or internal threat. It simply refers to the possibility that an individual within an organization, an insider, taking advantage of their authorized access of the organization’s data be it database or servers for malicious intentions to harm. But in some cases, an insider threat could be someone who unintentionally puts the organization at risk.
1- Malicious insider:
A malicious insider could be someone who’s either a current or former employee, partner, or vendor who has ill intentions to expose or damage the company’s confidential data by abusing their authority of accessing servers. They do this either for financial or personal gain. The employee may have grudges against the company and decides to penetrate the company’s cyber defenses for personal satisfaction. Or in some cases, the individual could collaborate with a hacker group or a competitor to sell the desired information. For example, in 2020, an employee at Tesla was approached by a cybercriminal to install malware in the company’s servers in exchange for $1 million, but the employee rejected and informed officials. In this case, the employee was smart and made the right choice but if an avaricious employee was offered this opportunity, then things would have turned out differently. Statistics reveal that 55% of organizations believe that authorized users are more likely to be a threat.
2- Negligent insider:
This type of insider threat causes harm to the company unintentionally. Almost 2 out of 3 insider threat incidents occur due to negligence (2022 Ponemon Cost of Insider Threats Global Report). This could be a result of their lack of knowledge on how to protect their data, which is why it is recommended for organizations to continuously educate their employees on cyber security topics. Simple tasks that are unknown to them such as logging out of their accounts, not using public Wi-Fi, and not doing work tasks on public devices could protect their company. Also, 38% of cybersecurity experts deem phishing as a major cause of insiders accidentally exposing an organization (Fortinet Insider threat report 2019).
How to prepare against insider threats?
– Organizations should be regularly monitoring the activity of the people who have authorized access to sensitive data. It could help in detecting suspicious activity early on to stop any harm intended towards the company. This helps to easily pinpoint the insider, as it is extremely difficult to identify them when the attack occurs
– With negligence being one of the main reasons for unintentional insider threats, training and educating your workforce is crucial. Investing in phishing simulators to test your employees will help in reducing the chances of them falling for phishing traps. Also, teaching them how to identify suspicious activity could help the company halt any possible cyber-attacks, and this could save the company millions of dollars. The average amount paid to resolve an insider attack for small organizations can reach up to $7.68 million and for larger organizations $17.92 million (2022 Ponemon Cost of Insider Threats Global Report).
– Create a Cybersecurity plan for insider threats. As mentioned previously, organizations usually focus on how to mitigate and prevent attacks from external threats, neglecting the possibility of insiders. It is essential to enforce a policy and security measures for such situations.
– Lastly and most importantly, is to protect your data! Always take the extra step to determine the safety and privacy of your digital assets and data. Remember it is much more difficult to mitigate an internal attack than an external one.
With the number of insider threats continually rising, organizations need to educate themselves on how to protect their data from any malicious intent. It is never too late to take the initiative in wanting to advance in security measures to prevent future threats. There are always new ways for criminals to achieve their goals so be up to date.
Always be a step ahead in Cyber Security!
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