By definition, insider threats are people within an organization who use their knowledge about the company or the authority vested in them for self-gain and interests. In most cases, they engage in unauthorized roles to sabotage, commit inside fraud, or spy for competitors.
Insider threats present a complex and dynamic risk that affects the public and private domains of all critical infrastructure and sectors. In this article, we take a look at seven common insider threats and how to effectively deal with them in your company.
Information technology sabotage, or simply IT sabotage, is a kind of insider threat where employees or contractors weaken an organization’s system. Usually, they maliciously and intentionally use technical hacks to disrupt or cease normal business operations of a victim organization.
The sabotage can also be in the form of hardware and software destruction or tampering. The idea is to disable crucial programs or software that an organization relies on to run smoothly. For example, an insider might tamper with a line of code that runs a business or wrecks in profits hence throwing the company into losses.
Intellectual property theft
Intellectual property in this case comes as knowledge or information about an organization. It is the intangible assets created and owned by an organization that are critical to achieving its mission and vision.
Theft would mean stealing proprietary information from the organization, either for use by the insider or competitors in that sphere.
Essentially, this type of insider threat entails robbing people or companies of their ideas, inventions, and creative expressions and even theft from employees within the company.
Insider fraud is a type of threat that comes from within the organization. It might be initiated by a current or former employee, contractor, or business partner of an organization.
Insider fraud occurs when an individual carries out fraudulent schemes, which take advantage of the data processed in the organization. Usually, these people have access to crucial information in context to their areas of expertise but then choose to use it in a manner that negatively affects the company for their own gain.
This is an insider threat whereby employees or competitors of an organization spy on a target company with an aim to discover its valuable trade secrets. Usually, the spy infiltrates the employee of the target company to try and understand how they run their day-to-day activities. The idea is to weaken the company by affecting how they play in the competitive market.
Many organizations focus on the malice of employees as the sole insider threat, forgetting that even negligent employees pose a far bigger threat to the company.
These types of insider threats commit actions that unintentionally place the organization at risk. A good example would be losing an encrypted laptop or desktop which has sensitive data and information about the company.
Employees voluntarily or involuntarily depart a company from time to time in search of greener pastures. These departures may pose a threat to the organization in cases of data or intellectual theft. And as we said, when this happens, it could render the company not competitive in the market.
This is an insider threat whereby insiders bypass laid down rules and regulations concerning data storage. For example, an employee may choose to save important company data in personal drives, which then makes it harder for the company to have full control over its data.
So how do you deal with these insider threats?
Having divulged the above, there should also be remedies that companies can use to prevent and arrest inside threats before they can wreak havoc. Some of the most effective prevention measures include;
As with anything, it’s important to ensure all employees, contractors and even interns receive regular and consistent security awareness training. This will apply to how they handle company data and what they can do with it.
A good strategy here is to use phishing and ransomware simulations to monitor awareness and understanding of cyber threat risks. This will serve to ensure all employees have really grasped the dangers insider threats pose to the company.
Conduct due diligence
For example, you should always do complete background checks on employees, particularly those who require access to sensitive data about the organization. The goal is to limit the threshold at which the company is vulnerable to insider threats.
Implement computer monitoring tools
The idea is to monitor user behavior in real-time to predict and detect abnormal user behavior associated with potential sabotage, data theft, or misuse.
How prepared is your company for risks associated with insider threats? We’d like to hear your feedback in the comments below.