Biggest Cybersecurity Threats Might Be Internal

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on Dec 13, 2017 9:00:00 AM

In ICS insights

During the last few years, you have certainly read alarming news about malware, data breaches, and other high-profile cybersecurity threats that have plagued both companies and their customers. These highly publicized threats may have been traced back to lone wolves or even to foreign governments. At the same time, you may have taken some comfort in believing that the worst threats would come from some outside entity. While it's true that many threats to your company's digital security come from the outside, you can leave yourself vulnerable if you don't consider serious threats from the inside.

Why the Worst Digital Threats to Your Company Probably Come From Inside

As with most companies, the majority of your employees probably have good intentions. Like all human beings, they may make mistakes. With the right software and policies, you may be able to prevent a lot of the accidents and errors that allow hackers to gain entry into your business computers and networks.

The truth is that the largest and most difficult threats to cope with often start with intentional insider actions. Reasons that employees or contractors can get away with harming your systems or stealing data include the fact that it's difficult to immediately distinguish some malicious actions from typical job duties, employees may know how to cover their tracks, and it's often tough to prove that intentional acts were not accidents.

Consider just a few examples of recent insider data breaches:

  • An employee simply downloaded the files that caused the customer data breach at Morgan Stanley in 2015
  • Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning could circumvent government security because they had insider security privileges.

How Vulnerable is Your Company to Insider Cybersecurity Threats?

Consider some recent figures from a study by the Ponemon Institute and IBM:

  • Out of 878 digital security incidents, well over 500 were caused by employees unintentionally; however, almost 200 were caused by intentional insider actions.
  • Almost three-quarters of all of the companies in the survey said they knew that they were vulnerable to insider cybersecurity threats.
  • Companies that had to remediate insider breaches reported an average estimate of losses of at least $100,000, with over 10 percent of companies reporting a loss of at least $1 million.

How to Protect Your Business Against Insider Digital Security Breaches

Your own business may have a tougher time preventing insider threats than external ones. At the same time, you may consider taking these actions to minimize the problem:

  • Background checks: Obviously, you want your company to screen employees who may handle sensitive data to make sure they have a clean record.
  • Give employees the least-required privileges: It's important for companies to go through and audit employee access privileges to make sure that everybody has the least rights that they need to do their jobs and must justify additional rights.
  • Control and monitor user accounts; Every business needs to keep logs of everything that their employees do online, and these logs should be monitored automatically for any unusual activity.

Educate Employees 

Employees need to know that their employer will regard malicious breaches of company security policies as a serious crime. They should also understand that their employers will regard any violations as poor job performance. Mostly, they should understand the negative impact that certain actions can have on the company and all of their fellow employees. In addition to education, you can also set up a haven program for whistleblowers or even teach employees how to spot this suspicious behavior. 

Work With People You Trust

At ICS, we do the hard work of screening our job candidates to ensure they have the right skills and a clean record. We also can connect you with the people you need in IT, risk management, and even human resources to ensure you're as safe from insider cybersecurity threats as is humanly possible. Tell us more about your ideal job candidates, and we'll get started today.
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