Although today’s technology-driven era has made information sharing and data access very efficient, it has brought forth a new set of challenges. One of the primary challenges businesses face is the rising threat to data security. However, the threat to business data does not always come from external actors. 

Worryingly, the greatest threat to business-critical data comes from human elements inside an organization. Since data is the lifeline of most businesses in this digital environment, any compromise can jeopardize operations and bring them to a sudden halt. To avoid this, organizations need to be aware of the threats posed by insiders and implement necessary measures to prevent them.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the cybersecurity risks businesses face from insider threats and how you can mitigate them.

Actors and motivations behind insider threats

There are two main types of actors behind all insider threat incidents — negligent insiders who unwittingly act as pawns to external threats and malicious insiders who become turncloaks for financial gain or revenge.

Negligent insiders – These are your regular employees who do their jobs but occasionally fall victim to a scam orchestrated by a cybercriminal. These actors do not have any bad intentions against your company. However, they are still dangerous since they are involved in a large proportion of all insider threat incidents.

Negligent insiders contribute to data security breaches by:

  • Clicking on phishing links sent by untrusted sources
  • Downloading attachments sent from suspicious sources
  • Browsing malicious or illegitimate websites using work computers
  • Using weak passwords for their devices
  • Sending misdirected emails to unintended recipients

Malicious insiders – These are disgruntled employees who wreak havoc on your data security for financial gain or revenge. Disgruntled employees can manipulate the company’s tools, applications or systems, and while financial gain is the top reason behind most malicious insider actions, it isn’t always the case. Despite being rare in occurrence, these threats often have much more severe consequences since the actors have full access and credentials to compromise your security. 

Best ways to prevent insider threats and protect data

When a business falls victim to a data security breach, it faces more than just financial repercussions. The organization’s reputation, competitive advantage and intellectual property often suffer following an insider threat incident. Additionally, there are regulations that impose hefty fines on businesses for allowing such a breach to occur. Therefore, you must be proactive when it comes to combating insider threats.

Detecting insider threats

Certain factors can help you identify insider threats before you experience a full-blown breach:

  • Human behavior: A potential insider with malicious intent against an organization will often exhibit abnormal behavior. For instance, an employee trying to access privileged information and frequently working unusual hours could be red flags to monitor.
  • Digital signs: Before a major breach due to insider threats, you may witness abnormal digital signs like downloading a substantial amount of data, high bandwidth consumption, traffic from unknown sources or unauthorized use of personal storage devices.

Defense strategies against insider threats

There are a few strategies that you can implement throughout your organization to minimize the possibility of insider threats.

  • Insider threat defense plan: First, you must define what constitutes abnormal behavior in your employees and set up alerts for digital signs in your IT environment. Most importantly, you need to limit access to critical data to only those whose job function requires it, and you must provide unique credentials for them.
  • Data backup: Backups are essential to protect your data in case of an unavoidable loss. With regular backups for your critical data, your business can get back up and running after a security breach involving an insider. Before you back up your data, you should classify the data worth protecting and create a strategy accordingly.
  • Employee training: When properly trained, employees could be your first line of defense against various cyberthreats. Create an organizational-level best practices policy that outlines clear instructions on personal device policies, passwords, remote working, etc.

Reach out to us to protect your critical data

As the cost of insider threats is expected to rise over the years, having a trusted partner by your side to protect your data can go a long way towards securing your business.

With our years of expertise in data security and storage, we can help you incorporate innovative strategies to protect your company. Give us a call today at 865-409-1500!

Download our Report!

Get your copy of What Every Business Owner Must Know About Hiring an Honest, Competent, Responsive, and Fairly-Priced Computer Consultant.