Most businesses today understand the need for cybersecurity. Still, many focus on protecting against outside threats like hackers or ransomware gangs. You may not realize some of the biggest cyber risks come from inside your company.
Your employees already have access to sensitive data, so making a mistake or going rogue can cause a lot of damage. If you want to stay as safe as possible, you need to address these threats while protecting against outside ones. Here are five ways how.
1. Train Employees Thoroughly
The first and one of the most important steps in alleviating insider threats is training employees. The words “insider threat” may make you think of double agents or disgruntled workers seeking revenge, but 63% of insider breaches stem from simple mistakes. Another 14% come from an outsider stealing an insider’s login credentials.
Train all employees on basic cybersecurity best practices like using strong passwords, enabling multi-factor authentication and never clicking unsolicited links. Insiders should also know how to spot phishing attempts. Periodically quizzing employees’ knowledge in these areas will ensure they remember these steps.
When everyone knows how their actions impact security and how to act safely, you’ll minimize the risks of an insider breach. Additional steps are still necessary, but this training is a crucial starting point.
“63% of insider breaches stem from simple mistakes.”
2. Limit Access
Next, consider limiting insider access as much as possible. If each employee can only access a few systems and a small amount of data, they can’t cause much damage. Even if someone breaches their account, the attacker must breach multiple to do any real harm.
A good rule is to go by the principle of least privilege. This idea holds that each user should only be able to access what they absolutely need to do their jobs correctly. That way, someone in one department can’t steal sensitive information from another or affect other teams’ security systems.
Each employee has access to over 17 million files on average. That’s far too many for most workers. Restricting that number as much as possible won’t necessarily stop insider incidents, but it’ll limit how much damage they can do.
3. Have IT and HR Work Together
“Stopping insider threats is often just as much a company culture issue as it is a security one.”
It’s also important to bring teams together to prevent insider threats. Because these incidents can stem from dissatisfied employees, ex-workers and complacent users, stopping them is often just as much a company culture issue as it is a security one. Consequently, IT and HR departments should address them together.
This collaboration starts with onboarding. Hiring managers should make security policies and expectations clear to new hires. You should also encourage open communication from staff to learn what they like about the workplace and how they think it can improve. Listening and adapting to these HR concerns help boost employee satisfaction, making malicious insider attacks less likely.
Security should play a part in offboarding, too. HR teams should work with IT to ensure users don’t keep any data or access when they leave the organization for any reason.
4. Implement Automated Monitoring
Accidents can still happen after following these steps, so staying on top of developing situations is critical. Security regulations in many areas require annual audits and certifications, but you should go further. Consider using artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor networks continuously.
AI network monitoring lets you see how users and systems act around the clock without a 24/7 manual security presence. That way, if something suspicious happens, the AI can isolate the user and alert IT so you can address it before it turns into a data breach.
User behaviour analytics (UBA) is a crucial part of this monitoring. UBA analyzes how each user usually acts so it can spot abnormalities, like someone trying to access files they don’t need or typically use. These alerts help you spot insider threats as they happen, letting you stop them before they cause any damage.
5. Create a Backup Plan
“More than half of all organizations have experienced an insider threat incident.”
Similarly, you should recognize that no amount of security is ever 100% effective. Over half of all organizations have experienced an insider threat incident in the past year and 74% say they’ve become more frequent. Given how common these situations are, preparing for the worst is best.
Have a detailed emergency response plan for if an insider breach occurs. This plan should include steps for containing the breach, communication protocols and how to recover from it. You may need multiple variations of the strategy for different scenarios.
Be sure to have offline and cloud backups of all critical data. That way, if an insider breach affects this information, you still have a copy you can use to maintain normal business operations.
Every Business Must Address Insider Threats
Insider threats may sound like something that only happens to big organizations or those who mistreat their workers, but that’s not the case. They’re remarkably common and often stem from well-meaning employees making honest mistakes.
The prevalence of insider threats can be concerning, but if you follow these steps, you can address them. Getting ahead of them before they happen will make breaches less likely and less impactful if they do occur.