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Rise of Insider Threats & How to Combat Them

Overlooking the risk of insider cyber threats could be a costly mistake. Read on to find out what they are and how to mitigate them.

Overlooking the risk of insider cyber threats could be a costly mistake. Read on to find out what they are and how to mitigate them.



Companies often make the mistake of focusing on cyber threats that come from outside their organisation, seeing internal threats as less of a risk. This could be a big mistake, since insider threats are on the rise, and they have the potential to cause extreme security breaches.

According to a recent report, incidents caused by insider threats are responsible for 30% of all reported threats. The growth in remote collaboration tools, now vital for employees, have undoubtedly contributed to this increase.
Whether malicious or negligent, insider threats put organisations at serious risk. From Coca-Cola and Tesla, to Shopify and more, all have been seriously damaged by insider breaches in recent years.

 

What are insider threats?

Insider threats are those created by current or former employees, contractors, or any other business stakeholders with access to an organisation’s networks. 
Incidences can be down to misuse of networks and applications, or can arise when an individual knowingly or unknowingly causes damage and disruption by erasing, modifying or stealing sensitive data.
 

Types of insider threats

Inadvertent insider threats

Insider threats are not always malicious in nature. In fact, they can happen as a result of actions that are accidental or negligent. 
Examples include inadvertent errors by employees, e.g. falling for phishing scams, or accidentally deleting files. Negligent insiders could account for around 62% of incidents, 25% of these relating to users having had their credentials stolen.

Malicious insider threats

These relate to rogue or disgruntled employees or contractors intent on stealing or purposefully leaking confidential information. This activity could be for financial gain, or simply to inflict damage or disruption on a company. 
Individuals may work alone, collude with competitors, or be part of an organised hacking group.

Insider threats can also be divided into the following four categories:

  1. Second streamers: Where employees misuse sensitive information to generate themselves income via fraud, external collusion or by selling trade secrets
  2. Disgruntled employees: Current or former employees that commit sabotage pose one of the biggest and most costly threats to companies
  3. Accidental non-malicious insiders: Individuals who may make occasional mistakes despite aiming to behave in a compliant, secure manner
  4. Persistent offenders: These are often senior managers who remain non-compliant and unresponsive to cyber security awareness training
 

User training and awareness helps to combat insider threats

Insider threats are often down to outdated systems, or a lack of consistently applied best practices.

One key way to strengthen a company’s security chain is to increase staff awareness by offering employees robust security training. All employees, from senior managers down to junior level staff, need to understand their data security obligations, and the importance of following protocols. 
Everyone should, at the very least, receive training on data protection, phishing prevention and password management. Click the below link, and protect your business today.