Monday, December 5, 2022
HomeCyber Security BlogCyber ThreatsINSIDER THREATS: A GROWING REALITY





Insider threats affect both the public and private domains of all critical infrastructure sectors. Companies must take action to mitigate insider threats by understanding these threats and establishing an insider threat mitigation program.

These threats are a danger because they have had access to systems or networks in the past. An insider can use their authorized access and knowledge of an organization in a malicious, complacent, or unintentional way that harms confidentiality.

Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency defines an insider threat as a threat that an unauthorized user, either knowingly or mistakenly, violates their authorization and harms the Department. There are three types of insider threats: damage that can be done to the Department through damage to the Department’s equipment, personal injury through physical violence, or destruction of information by a data breach.

  • Turncloaks

Turncloaks are the new breed of malicious insiders and can be employees, contractors, or business partners. They often hold motives including revenge and financial gain. Some insider attacks involve stealing sensitive documents or proprietary information while others leave a path of destruction wiping databases in their wake. An example would be when a disgruntled employee uses his access to sell secret information to a competitor.

  • Chess games

Pawns tend to be people unintentionally acting on behalf of the opposition. Some pawns have poor security habits such as sharing the same password for both work and personal accounts or leaving sensitive data in public spaces. These people do not always steer against the turncoat but instead unknowingly cooperate with them. Sometimes these pawns commit acts that would typically be considered espionage, without realizing it.

  • Moles

Moles are similar to turncloaks, but they have a lot of political motives and can be very hard to detect. Actions you can take to defend against an insider threat. Beyond typical security measures, be wary of insider threats. This can include things such as User Behavior Analytics and Privileged Access Management To detect these threats, here are the warning signs you should know: A mole is an outsider who gains insider access to a privileged network by posing as an employee or partner.

  • Accident

An accident is a mistake that accidentally causes pain to an organization. We can minimize accidents, but they will happen; they cannot be eliminated, but we can reduce the risk and severity of their effects. Examples include typing in the wrong email address and sending sensitive information to the wrong person, clicking on a link unintentionally, opening up a file with malware in an email, or improperly getting rid of sensitive documents.

  • Intentional

Intentional threats are actions taken to hurt a company, and the intention is to gain personal benefits or stand up for their rights in the organization. For example, if an individual does not receive a promotion they expect, they may leak sensitive information to get revenge.

  • Collusion

Insiders who work in collusion with outside attackers can cause significant damage. Insider threats involve one or more insiders who are collaborating with an attacker. These incidents often involve fraud, intellectual property theft, espionage, or some combination of the three.

  • Third-Party

Third-party threats are typically those who are granted some level of access to facilities, systems, or networks. These contractors can be direct or indirect threats to an organization.

  • Direct Threat

A threat can come from a system that has unintended or malicious consequences. Indirect Threats are flaws in these systems that expose resources to unintentional or malicious actors.

  • Careless Insider

A careless insider is someone who unintentionally exposes the system to outside threats, often as a result of mistakes.

Can one of your employees be the only person accessing sensitive data on the company network?
  • If someone is taking up more tasks than usual, or exhibiting abnormal behavior in other ways–such as being overly enthusiastic–it may be time to track them as suspicious.
  • Find out what your organization’s critical assets are and start to form a comprehensive understanding of these. Policies should be documented to avoid confusion. Everyone in the organization should know their rights to prevent IP theft, and understand the regulations for obtaining IPs. Policies like this will help clarify things for employees and will provide a more steady workflow.
  • Stay ahead of threats by correlating information from multiple data sources.
  • Promote cultural changes by educating your team and improving employee satisfaction through security training. This will help fight negligence, address the drivers of malicious behavior, and ensure that your company has a complete understanding of its role in your security.
What To Look For When Selecting Insider Threat Detection

An insider threat is an attack on an organization’s security by someone who has access to sensitive information from the inside. This type of attack can be harder to identify and prevent since both the attacker and the target area inside the organization. The insider can also more easily avoid detection if they know about the organization’s security measures.

A successful insider threat detection strategy combines several tools that monitor and identify insiders as well as eliminate false positives. Data like User and Event Behavior Analytics can help detect insider threats, track data activity, and establish a baseline to determine whether the activity is normal.

How to identify an insider threat at work

Common, privileged insiders to an organization are employees. However, contract workers, vendors, interns, and board members who have non-public access to an organization can also be insider threats.

Harder to prevent: The insider threat by definition comes from inside the organization, so it’s difficult to focus external security controls on them. An outsider can’t stop an insider threat from accessing company networks, because they are already in that network.

It can be difficult to distinguish the motives of an insider, as they often have some level of privileged access. They might download a document for their review on a flight, or share it with someone else. Even basic access controls will see both actions the same way. With strong motivation, often there is also a strong motive. A malicious insider threat may be motivated by revenge or holding a grudge against the company. They may have had nefarious intent when they applied for their position.

How to protect against insider threats

Industries that typically experience the most insider threats are healthcare and finance. The healthcare sector had more reported insider attacks than any other industry in 2022. The financial industry spends more on insider threat management than any other industry. Interestingly, many insider attacks are motivated by petty grudges or conflict.

User behavior analysis is not enough to protect against insider threats; a stack of solutions that also monitor your data. These protections ensure that you are in control of any data that malicious insiders can touch.

  • DLP Tracker

User behavior analytics detects and alerts on abnormal behaviors. People access data in a standard way, and machine learning detects when someone is doing something out of the ordinary.

  • Data discovery and data classification

Database activity monitoring helps detect policy violations. Imperva has a system that uses AI and machine learning to analyze all of your security incidents and distinguish the most important ones.

Manufacturing companies have shown to be at risk of malicious insiders. They usually use their proprietary knowledge to disclose information and processes.

Defense and aerospace are some of the most damaging insider threat incidents. States have played a role in past incidents by conducting advanced campaigns, which undermine economic espionage and political motives.

Powers such as CISA and the FBI contributed to making people more aware of the insider threat. There are still many organizations that are vulnerable to these threats, even those outside the federal government like schools and communities.