What is an Insider Threat? How to protect yourself from it

While organizations are clearly at risk from possible cyber attacks from outside the organization, it is also possible to get under attack through an inside job; therefore, organizations need to be prepared for any type of attack that they might have to face.

As the name clearly suggests, insider threat refers to a malicious threat that an organization faces from within the organization and comes from people that are already inside the organization or attached to it in different ways. These people can be referred to as current or former employees, business partners or associates, and even contractors with the organizations’ security information regarding its security practices, data, and computer systems.

You never know when and where an organization might come under attack and face security breaches by one of its own, but like other cyber attacks, it is not so easy to detect.

Why are insider threats challenging to detect?

The detection of insider threats is not easy for the security teams because apparently, the insider involved in the attack has all the legitimate access to the secure information and assets of the organization. This makes it very difficult to differentiate between the behavior of a normal user’s activity and that of a hacker.

Also, because the insider knows precisely what information he requires and where it is kept, he does not go snooping around and leaving prints for anyone to find him. Hence, as a result, the data breach by an insider is very costly. Some researchers claim that the cost of an insider threat is way more than that of an outsider attack.

Types of Insider Threats

It is hence essential that you are aware of the insider threats that you might face. There are commonly four types of insider threats that organizations have to go through. There are various levels of threats caused by an insider, and an organization can only be ready against it if it knows about the threats.

  1. Pawn

Pawn is a more common chess term but here refers to the employees that are manipulated into performing malicious activities mostly unintentionally, through cyberattacks like spear-phishing or even through social engineering.

It is not always necessary that they might be involved in it; there are chances that they did it without knowing what they were doing. For example, they might download malware to their work computer or even tell about the user credentials while talking to a third party. Now this means that they are open for attack.

  1. Goof

The next one is Goof. Goof is where there is no malicious intent related to the attack, but the attacker does take deliberately harmful actions that can cause severe damage. Goof refers to the users or employees who are simply arrogant and ignorant and believe that they have been exempted from all the security measures put in place either due to convenience or even due to incompetence.

A considerable percentage of organizations’ employees try to bypass security controls, and goofs cause over 90 percent of the insider threats. A common example of a goof can be that he stored some secure information on his cloud to access it on his phone, knowing that it is strictly prohibited.

  1. Collaborator

Collaborators are simply those users who join hands with a third party that are either competitors or other organizations and provide them access to the secure information of the organization that can cause harm to the organization. All collaborators do is misuse their access and steal intellectual property, customer information, and security details that can cause a problem in regular business operations.

  1. Lone Wolf
How to protect yourself from Insider Threats?

While these insider threats are very dangerous, it’s not like you cannot protect yourself from them; different ways can protect yourself and your organization from the malicious threats that the attack possesses.

  1. Keep yourself updated with all the latest security practices. 

Companies should make sure that they conduct small training sessions for employees to tell them about the present threats and how they can protect themselves against them. They should also be told about the company’s updated security protocols and other security measures to ensure better security.

  1. Keep your systems updated with the latest security.

No matter how much you care, there are chances that you can undergo an attack, so the best thing to do in a case like this is to keep yourself and your systems updated with all the latest security practices. Hire the best-equipped people to deal with problems like these and update the installed security software on all the office systems.

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