Insider Threats Don’t Have to Be Malicious or Even Intentional

Insider Threats; Cybersecurity

What comes to mind when you think of cybersecurity threats? Malware? Ransomware? Usually we think about strengthening firewalls to keep out hooded figures typing on green computer screens shouting "I'm in." But there's another kind of threat that's more dangerous than an outsider breach: insider threats. We've written before about the dangers of insider threats, but it's a topic worth revisiting, because insider threats aren't always as malicious as they are so often presented. Rather, your cybersecurity could be compromised by unwitting perpetrators.

The first step to ensuring the prevention of insider threats is to realize that they don't all come from angry or aggrieved employees. In fact, breaches can occur accidentally or even unknowingly. The second step is broadly expanding the your knowledge of the state of your organization's cybersecurity. What permissions do you allow your employees? Can they access your entire data trove? Even data from before the time they were hired? Are they allowed to copy data freely? These questions are absolutely necessary to answer to prevent data breaches. Last, your organization must educate its employees frequently, as cybersecurity information can be out of date quickly.

Some organizations have been more proactive than others. IBM has gone as far as banning jump drives, as any data accessed by employees could easily be compromised. While that may be a step too far for some, it's a necessary step for complete control of compromising data.

If you aren't willing to limit the physical access to data, the digital access must absolutely be monitored. If your organization has petabytes and petabytes of data, most of which is likely unstructured dark data, that data shouldn't be able to be freely accessed. If data isn't being used, it should be indexed and archived, and should only be privy to extremely scrutinized eyes.

Whether you choose the physical approach or digital approach or even both, you must guarantee that your employees receive a comprehensive education on threats to cybersecurity. Everyone in the organization needs to be aware of the standards to which your organization adheres, and everyone needs to be taught where threats originate. It's an age old axiom, "Work smarter, not harder." It's the same thing in this case: it's a whole lot harder to overcome a data breach than it is to educate employees.

Whatever steps your organization takes to ensure it's protected against outsider threats, it bears repeating that insider threats are just as, if not more dangerous. By recognizing that fact, understanding what data your organization has, and ensuring that your employees are educated to the dangers, your organization will be optimized to be protected against any threat-- outside or inside.

Tucker Partridge is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, and a newly minted Bay Area resident. He is a professional marketing associate, a semi-professional comedian, and an amateur trivia enthusiast.