Insider Threats Impact on Organization

July 8, 2023

Insider threats have direct impact on organization. They are a risk that virtually all organizations are susceptible to. They arise when an employee, vendor or partner misuses their legitimate user credentials in order to access and exploit sensitive data.

Can occur for any number of reasons, from professional to personal. Whether motivated by malicious intent, greed or revenge, it can tarnish an organization’s reputation and result in significant financial losses.

Employees

Insider threats pose a significant danger to your company’s security. They’re often responsible for data breaches and malware infections.

These employees have access to your organization’s sensitive information and networks. They have the potential to damage systems or data in a number of ways, such as deleting or altering important records, divulging confidential info or engaging in acts of sabotage.

Malicious insiders can include current or former employees, vendors and contractors with legitimate user credentials. These individuals may be opportunistic in nature and seek to steal information for personal gain or disrupt operations.

High privilege users with authorized access to sensitive data and networks in your organization are particularly vulnerable. They can circumvent firewalls and access policies, resulting in the theft of valuable information.

A malicious insider can wreak havoc on your systems and data, resulting in massive disruption for your business or costly data loss costs. Examples include a cyberattack against a large US natural gas pipeline, employee-assisted hacking attack on Twitter and data breach at SunTrust Bank that affected 1.5 million customer records.

An insider’s intent in such cases is usually to steal information and harm your company’s brand reputation or revenue. As such, it’s critical to monitor and detect insider behavior in order to prevent these types of incidents from occurring.

An insider threat that poses a particular risk is careless workers who violate your organization’s security policies, leaving your company vulnerable to malware infections or data leaks. These employees may leave devices unattended, disregard VPN access rules or send email from unprotected connections.

Though it may not be possible to monitor every employee, you can take some steps to reduce the threat of malicious insiders by implementing security awareness training, phishing scam monitoring and behavioral analytics solutions. These tools can help detect unusual activity such as late nights or sudden data spikes.

In addition to training, access management and monitoring and detection solutions, you can also promote a culture change and digital transformation for improved cybersecurity. Doing so will create an atmosphere of vigilance that shields your business and brand from insider attacks that cause significant harm.

Vendors

Insider threats that originate within your company can be just as hazardous as those faced by external attackers. Not only do they disrupt operations and damage reputation, but they may also incur costly legal or regulatory fines.

The key to mitigating potential risks is early identification and assessment, followed by a comprehensive risk management strategy that covers your entire ecosystem. One effective way of doing this is by creating a vendor risk assessment process and requiring each vendor you work with to go through it.

Vendors that have not been thoroughly vetted can pose a variety of security risks to your organization, from vulnerabilities and breaches to data loss.

Fortunately, there are tools and solutions available to monitor vendor cybersecurity risk so you can identify issues before they become major issues. When selecting a vendor, factors like how much privileged access they have and whether or not there are security controls in place to prevent that access from gaining control should be taken into consideration.

Another important factor to consider is how your vendors respond to security alerts and threats. Without an effective plan in place, they won’t be a great asset for your team.

A successful vendor risk management program also guarantees your vendors are abiding by laws and regulations. With this information at your disposal, you can ask them to adjust their behavior if they’re not meeting your standards.

Finally, automated vendor risk assessments can help you reduce vendor fatigue and avoid backlogs. Automating this process requires a significant amount of time and resources – which is why using an efficient tool for running them is so important.

Intelligent questionnaires that automatically adjust questions based on vendor responses can expedite the process, saving your team valuable time and resources they can dedicate to other tasks. Automation also makes it simpler to flag vendor issues, expediting remediation and improving your organization’s ability to detect problems before they become major ones.

Contractors

Contractors provide organizations with specialized skills and expertise without the long-term commitment of full-time employees. While contractors can be an excellent way to expand your business and obtain resources, they could also put you at risk for insider threats if your security policies don’t adequately cover them or you aren’t closely monitoring their behavior.

Insider threats arise when individuals circumvent access controls and use their privileged access to gain access to sensitive information, systems or networks. These individuals can be malicious or careless and often difficult to track down.

Insider threats often originate from employees and contractors, who have access to sensitive data and systems. These individuals could include disgruntled former employees, lone wolves, or collaborators.

These individuals can cause enormous harm by stealing data, disrupting business processes or injecting malware into the network. These incidents are difficult to detect and could cost your organization thousands of dollars if not caught in time.

If your organization is concerned about insider threats, there are steps you can take to minimize this risk. The first step is understanding the different types of insider threats and how they could impact your business.

The careless employee: This type of threat actor often fails to realize they are violating company policies or access controls, could be misusing resources, disobeying security protocols, creating workarounds or installing banned applications. This type of breach can cause substantial financial harm and is more difficult to detect than malicious insiders or disgruntled employees who intentionally break into your business.

That is why it is imperative to create and implement an insider threat management program. This must include policies and procedures for reporting incidents, removing access privileges, and taking corrective actions.

Furthermore, an effective insider threat program should include training for all personnel with access to the organization’s networks and systems. This will guarantee that everyone has the capacity to detect suspicious behavior and report it promptly.

Customers

Insider threats are among the top cybersecurity concerns for organizations and security leaders. According to a 2022 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 82% of data breaches involved human elements that exposed or exfiltrated sensitive information.

These incidents can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as negligence, greed or malicious intent; but they all have the potential to negatively affect your organization’s reputation and revenue. Fortunately, there are some easy steps you can take to safeguard against insider threats.

Insiders are individuals with legitimate access to your systems and networks who misuse that power in order to harm or cause damage to your organization. This could include employees, contractors, and vendors with privileged access to these networks or systems.

This access gives them the power to obtain confidential information, delete files and disrupt your business processes. Furthermore, they have the capability of installing malware on your system that makes it impossible for the business to operate normally.

Malicious Insiders are individuals who use their access to your company to cause harm, steal intellectual property or commit fraud. Examples include a former employee selling confidential data to a competitor or an unsatisfied contractor installing crippling malware into the network.

Malicious insiders’ motives can range from financial gain to revenge or political ideology. Edward Snowden, for instance, was an embittered government employee who stole and distributed millions of classified documents in order to prove his case.

These individuals typically possess a high level of privilege access and are difficult to detect. Therefore, it is imperative to implement various strategies in order to prevent them from gaining unauthorized entry and causing harm to your organization.

Some of the most effective tactics are implementing access controls based on the principle of least privilege, monitoring user activity and enforcing your organization’s security policies. These steps can protect your business from insider threats by ensuring all employees, contractors and vendors possess appropriate permissions to access pertinent information in an authorized fashion.

Ammar Fakhruddin

ABOUT AUTHOR

Ammar brings in 18 years of experience in strategic solutions and product development in Public Sector, Oil & Gas and Healthcare organizations. He loves solving complex real world business and data problems by bringing in leading-edge solutions that are cost effective, improve customer and employee experience. At Propelex he focuses on helping businesses achieve digital excellence using Smart Data & Cybersecurity solutions.


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