How to identify and prevent IT insider threats

How to identify and prevent IT insider threats

Posted by HTG

Sixty percent of all organisations face over 20 insider threats per year. These internal dangers to your security can result in non-compliance, reputational damage and hefty fines.

Unfortunately, they’re a growing problem. According to IBM, instances of these threats will increase in the years to come.

So, to bolster your defences, you’ll need to clue yourself up on the threats to anticipate, how to detect them, and how to prevent them.

Let’s first begin by dissecting the types of insiders.

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4 examples of insider threats

There are four fundamental kinds of insider threats:

  1. Negligent employees. These are the people who fail to listen to any cybersecurity training or best practices. Sixty-three percent of insider threats are a result of negligent employees, and these incidents can cost upwards of $4.58 million (£3.38 million) per year.
  2. Malicious insiders. Otherwise known as criminal insiders, these are the employees that purposefully want to cause harm. Malicious insiders were the third biggest cause of data breaches in 2021.
  3. Whistleblowers. These employees leak sensitive information or intellectual property because they believe it’s the right thing to do.
  4. Credential thieves. Almost a quarter of all insider threats are a result of these criminals. They can be insiders or outsiders, and act by stealing data and then selling it online.

Whether through ignorance or malicious intent, these insiders can cause an eye-watering amount of damage to the security of your business.

But how can you tell when an employee’s gone rogue?

Detecting dangerous activity

It’s impossible to analyse all your data, applications and user activity manually. So your best defence against insider threats is technology. With the use of behavioural analytics and intelligent threat detection software, you’ll stand a better chance at detecting suspicious user activity.

For instance, Microsoft 365 Defender offers AI-driven threat protection across your email, applications, end-user devices, and identities. You can also gain a better organisation-wide picture of your data and any fishy activity with Microsoft’s security information and event management (SIEM) solution, Sentinel.

Preventing insider threats

A preventative approach will always outweigh a reactive one. To prevent an insider threat from leaking or losing your data:

  • Create strong security policies. Through your applications and cloud platform, enforce security policies that determine user access across your organisation. That way, you can ensure only the right employees access your sensitive material.
  • Implement cybersecurity training. For negligent employees, facilitate regular compulsory security training and certifications.
  • Monitor activity and usage across your environment. With the threat detection software we mentioned earlier, keep track of any suspicious behaviour across your business. Make sure to check your email for alerts, too.
  • Offboard employees properly. Ensure you terminate ex-employee access from your applications and resources immediately to reduce the likelihood of an attack or breach.

On top of these recommendations, it’s worth executing a thorough third-party cybersecurity assessment. This will pinpoint any weak points in your business that insiders could take advantage of.

Nip insider threats in the bud

Insider threats are a growing concern for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

You may envision negligent or malicious insiders as hard-to-detect offenders. The truth is, with the right software and due diligence, you can flag questionable user activity before it becomes a bigger issue. In turn, keeping your data safe and your clients happy.

If you’d like more information on the top security issues your business should be tackling, why not watch our free on-demand webinar? Our in-house experts will be revealing practical best practices and considerations.

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