Insider Data Threats and ways to prevent them?
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Insider Data Threats and ways to prevent them?

by Eric

A security risk known as an insider threat originates from within the target company. This usually involves an employee, either current or former, or a business partner who misuses access to privileged accounts or sensitive information within an organization’s network. Traditional security procedures frequently concentrate on external dangers rather than internal threats that may exist within the company. In this guide insider threats and ways to prevent them are discussed. Read more

Types of Insider Threats:

  • Careless Insider -an innocent pawn that accidentally makes the system vulnerable to outside threats. This is the most prevalent kind of insider danger and is brought on by mistakes like disclosing a device or falling for a hoax. For instance, a worker who is not trying to hurt you can click on a dangerous site and infect your computer with malware.
  • Malicious Insider –Also called a Turncloak, who maliciously and

    Willful usage of valid credentials, frequently motivated by a desire for money or other personal gain; an example of this would be a person who is enraged with a former employer or an opportunistic employee who sells sensitive information to a rival. Because they are familiar with the organization’s security rules and processes as well as its weaknesses, turncloaks have an advantage over other attackers.

  • A mole –scammer who has gained technical access but insider access to a privileged network. This is a person outside the organization who poses as an employee or partner.They can also be third-party individuals like a contractor, for example, who has been given access to a company’s network. They then go on to compromise security by misusing and abusing their access to gain insight into the company’s assets and data.Examples of Insider Threats Knowing the types of insider threats that a business faces is important. Still, it is also crucial that you are aware of specific examples of insider attacks that could target your company.
    • A Fired Employee – Not all employees who you choose to let go will decide to get revenge on you and your company, but it is important to be aware that they might feel obliged to launch an attack. This is especially true if the fired employee feels betrayed or like your decision to oust them from your company is a personal one. As payback, they could use their permissions to disrupt your business or for their financial gain if they are worried about how they will afford their rent or bills after being sacked.
    • A Victim of Phishing – It can be easy for employees to trust that the emails they receive are legitimate, leading to them clicking on malicious links unwittingly. While this real example of an insider threat may not have bad intent, it is an equally real threat to your business’s security.
    • An Employee Who is Setting Up a Rival Business – Similar to having a disgruntled former member of staff who steals data for their own personal gain, you might have an employee who is planning to go it alone and set up their own business who needs your valuable contacts to get started. Employees with high ambitions such as these could steal your contact information and business operation data to get a head start and challenge your business.


    The Impact of Insider Attacks

    The impact of being blindsided by an insider attack can be devastating for a business. As already mentioned, insider threats can be difficult to detect as insiders usually know how to access data and where sensitive information is stored. Subsequentially, attacks by an insider are incredibly costly for businesses to recover from, even more, expensive than attacks from people outside of a business. According to the Ponemon Institute, the global average cost of an insider threat was $11.45 million in 2020, compared to the global average cost of an outsider data breach which was $3.86 million. With this in mind, it is clear that the threat from insiders can easily break a business and cannot be ignored.

Insider Data Threats and ways to prevent them?

You can take the following steps to reduce the risk of insider attacks.

  • Critical Assets protection whether physical or logical, including systems, technology, facilities, and people. Intellectual property, including vendor-customer data, proprietary software, drawings, and internal manufacturing processes, are also critical assets. Comprehensive understanding of critical tools. Ask questions such as: What critical tools do we have? Can we prioritize our wealth? And what do we mean by the current state of each device?
  • Support Cultural Change –ensuring security involves not only know-how but also attitudes and beliefs. To combat negligence and address the perpetrators of malicious behavior, you need to educate your employees on safety issues and work to improve employee satisfaction. Educating employees on the importance of robust cybersecurity is one way to prevent careless employees from unwittingly unleashing an attack on your company. Teaching them how to spot suspicious phishing emails and messages is one way to safeguard against attacks. Encouraging employees to use complex passwords and to change these regularly is another way to deter attackers from the inside. Having a dedicated human resources department to look after employees and deal with any grievances they have in a polite and timely manner is a great way to prevent revenge attacks carried out by disgruntled employees and former employees.
  • Policies of implementation –clearly documents organizational policies to enforce them and prevent misunderstandings. All members of the organization must be familiar with security procedures and understand their intellectual property rights so they do not share the privileged content they create. Implementing a security policy is an important step in safeguarding your business against insider threats. A security policy should detail the procedures that need to be followed to identify and prevent threats from happening. The security procedure should discuss which employees have access to what data and should ensure that employees can only access the data they need to. It will also advise employees to who they can share data and under what circumstances.
  • Improve Visibility – Deploy solutions to track employee activity and correlate information from multiple data sources. For example, you can use deceptive technology to lure a malicious insider or fraudster and make your activity visible. Monitoring employee activity can help you to detect any abnormal behavior before it harms your business data by preventing sabotage, misuse, and theft. It is important for employers to manage their employee’s accounts which can restrict the information they can access, therefore limiting the scale of attack an insider will be able to carry out. This is wise not only to prevent insider attacks but also to outside cyber-attacks. If a cybercriminal gains illicit access to an employee’s account, they will have the same restrictions as that employee does, minimizing the damage they can carry out.
  • Revoke Employee permissions – To prevent insider attacks by former employees, it is a sensible idea to remove and delete employee permissions and accounts as they are leaving your company. Locking former employees out of accessing your business will safeguard it against future attacks.
  • Take a Zero Trust approach – A zero trust is a type of security that needs all users inside or outside of an organization to be authorized and authenticated before being given access to applications and data. Zero Trust is increasingly important in the digital age as it assumes that everyone is a potential threat to data and addresses problems that might occur as employees work from home and with cloud networks.

Malicious Insider Threat Indicators:

A network-level abnormal activity can indicate an internal threat. Similarly, if an employee is dissatisfied or angry, or if an employee begins to take on multiple tasks with excessive enthusiasm, this can be a sign of irregularity. Indicators of traceable insider threats include:

  • Activity at Unusual Times – login to the network at 3 p.m.
  • The volume of Traffic –transmits too much data over the network
  • Type of Activity – access to unusual resources that they don’t need to do their job

These are the three main indications that a malicious insider attack might take place, but others include; employees trying to sidestep security protocols, openly expressing their disgruntlement about work to their colleagues, frequently being in the office for longer than their contracted hours when there isn’t overtime to be done, downloading large amounts of data and duplicating files, and using their own personal storage devices that haven’t been pre-approved for use.

Insider threat detection solutions:

Insider Data Security is very important. Insider threats are more difficult to identify or prevent than external attacks and are invisible to traditional security solutions such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems that focus on external threats. If an attacker uses login enabled, existing security mechanisms may not identify the abnormal behavior. In addition, malicious insiders can more easily avoid detection if they are familiar with the organization’s security measures. To protect all your assets, you need to diversify your insider threat detection strategy instead of a single solution. An effective insider threat detection system combines a variety of tools to not only monitor insider behavior but also to filter an outsized number of alerts and eliminate false positives.

Insider threat recovery:

While it is important to protect against and detect insider data attacks before they happen, you can’t completely remove the risk of these attacks taking place. This is why it is vital for your business that you have a recovery plan in place to bounce back from these attacks if someone from within chooses to target your company. Having a strategy in place on responding and picking yourself up in the event of an attack is vital. When you have come up with a plan on how to start the recovery process, it is important that as few trusted employees as possible know the procedure so that it is protected.

Having cyber security insurance as part of your business insurance will help cover the costs and subsequent pause in trading that a data breach incurs to help you get back up on your feet.

As big data increases, so does the risk of attacks on your business. While an attack from within your company can harm trust amongst employees, it is important that you have hardworking and dedicated staff who can act fast and with little instruction to help you get back up and running again. Ensuring that you employ experts in data who can make quick decisions and easily make sense of data will be vital in your recovery.

Individuals with degrees in applied statistics and data science are important to make sense of data. When it comes to data science vs applied statistics both specialisms are valuable to businesses. They work in similar areas, although these are not the same. These experts in data use different techniques for analyzing and reporting information. Data scientists use data to create more efficient machine learning processes like algorithms which can influence how business processes and decisions are carried out. This can help speed up recovery after an insider threat. Having a data scientist on board can help you streamline your business data to know what area of the business to focus on to recoup the losses of an insider attack. Those with expertise in applied statistics can analyze specific sets of data and predict what is to come in the future. This valuable insight will help your business after an attack.


In conclusion, insider attacks can pose a real threat to business. They are harder to detect than outsider attacks and can cost you more to recover from too. Being aware of the types of threats out there and specific examples of these brings you one step closer to recognizing attacks that might occur from right under your nose. Defending against insider attacks is vital to deterring them, but attacks can still happen even with increased internal security. This is why having a recovery plan when attacks take place is essential for your company’s resurgence. A team of highly qualified data professionals who can use technology and crunch the numbers will help you see what you have lost as a result of attacks and then help you with the best plan and implement your steps to recovery. Having insurance to go some way to cover these costs will help too.

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