Technology and Business can be described today as two sides of the same coin; a business’s ability to upscale is currently tied to the necessary availability of technology in its work ecosystem. So, digitalization and cybersecurity are central to the growth, maintenance, and success of businesses in our modern society.
We need to establish this first because most business firms prioritize protecting their workers and their sensitive information from external attacks by third parties. To do this, these companies employ risk assessment and management techniques implemented by skilled professionals to ward off external security threats.
However, external security threats are only one side of the story — companies still have to deal with what we call Insider Threats.
What is an Insider Threat?
An Insider Threat is a malicious threat to an organization that comes from people within the organization, such as employees, former employees, contractors, or business associates, who have inside information concerning the organization’s security practices, data, and computer systems.
These threats are usually indicated by abnormal activity at a company’s network level during unusual times, e.g., signing in to the network at 3 am or an employee starting to take on more tasks with excessive enthusiasm and transferring too much data through the network (believe it or not, these could be indicative of foul play). Also, if an employee noticeably begins to try accessing unusual resources for their position, that could indicate an insider threat.
Insider threats may be intentional or unintentional. For instance, sometimes employees can be negligent, failing to review software programs before downloading them into your company’s systems and resultantly causing your company to deal with cases of ransomware. An employee could also be careless with your company’s sensitive information, not doing enough to secure it from access by third parties or rival companies.
Regardless, the fact remains that once these threats transform into actual attacks, companies incur financial losses and, usually, reputational damage. As the 2022 Cost of Insider Threats: Global Report reveals, insider threat incidents have risen 44% over the past two years, with costs per incident up more than a third to $15.38 million.
So, for a company, you should have systems and mechanisms in place to prevent the reoccurrence of insider threats. These threats usually destabilize workplace productivity, reduce trust amongst employees, and cause damage to a company’s finances and image.
The best way to prevent something from happening is to know how it gets to happen in the first place. That said, here are some apparent reasons why companies suffer regular insider threats:
Financial Inducements by third parties
Might is right; Money is might.
Financial inducements are one of the more prominent reasons why companies experience malicious insider threats. The targets of these inducements are usually workers who want to benefit themselves at the expense of their work organization for whatever reason — be it a prior misunderstanding with the company leading to termination of employment, the fact that they’re not happy with the work environment, or the notion that they’re not paid enough for the amount of effort they put into ensuring the company’s profitability.
It’s often easy for these workers to get targeted and induced and curate a threat and attack on your company by third parties who want to acquire sensitive information about your business operations for any reason or merely profit from that information themselves.
Absence of Insider Threat Programs
If you don’t have systems to protect yourself from risks, threats, and vulnerabilities, you can only expect these threats to keep coming until you fix that loophole in your security strategy. The same applies to insider threats.
Companies usually suffer insider threats when they lack mechanisms in place to protect them from these threats. For instance, having an Insider Threat Program works wonders for companies looking to protect themselves from insider threats.
An Insider threat Program is designed to help organizations intervene before an individual with privileged access or an understanding of the organization’s workings makes a mistake or commits a harmful or hostile act. The program development usually spans the entire organization and serves as a system to help individuals rather than an aggressive enforcement or “sting” program.
Some benefits of having an Insider Threat program include detecting suspicious behavior immediately, identifying high-risk profiles and threats, monitoring and managing cyber threats, understanding the depth of risks, access control, and knowing how to address risks.
Inefficient employee training
As mentioned, Insider threats can pop up intentionally or unintentionally. We’re looking at the unintentional aspect of it. You can’t expect the same level of care you give to your establishment to be delivered by your employees — some will be more careful with your sensitive information than most.
So, to prevent instances where a team member is careless with your sensitive information or does not take necessary precautionary measures to ensure your information is protected from third-party access, you’ll need to ensure that your employees are trained adequately to that effect.
Many companies suffer unintentional insider threats because their employees aren’t saddled with the knowledge of ways these threats can come about and how to prevent them. As a result, these employees often handle corporate information negligently, leading to these threats becoming full-fledged attacks that cause losses for a company.
Humans are typically wired to rebel against what, to them, is a toxic or oppressive system. Most companies that suffer insider threats usually have a tracklist of dissatisfied employees who could potentially sabotage the company’s operations at any given moment.
This is why companies are encouraged to create productive and accommodating work environments; it usually only takes one error in judgment against an employee with access to your company’s sensitive information to make them decide to leak your sensitive information to third parties who want it.
Unrestricted employee access to sensitive information
As an employer, you must have considered letting as many of your employees as possible in on your business secrets, sensitive information, and classified operations, thinking it would create a harmonious work environment for your employees.
However, companies that suffer insider threats from time to time are usually companies that do just that. These companies fail to regulate who has access to their sensitive information thoroughly, and when their data falls into the incapable hands of an employee who doesn’t know how to protect such information, they suffer accidental insider threats.
Apart from that, employers must recognize how fickle corporate relationships can be. That your company is on good terms with an employee today doesn’t mean the situation won’t change tomorrow. What happens when you have a rogue employee accessing your sensitive information?
By not regulating which employee has access to sensitive information, companies put themselves in harm’s way and should be ready to handle the consequences.
These are some of the reasons why companies experience insider threats from time to time. Insider threats are primarily based on existing loopholes in corporate security strategies that allow third parties to access information that could make or mar a company, which is companies need to sit up and come up with mechanisms they can employ to protect themselves from these threats efficiently.
If your company is looking for professional assistance to protect itself from insider threats, look no further.
At Security Pro, we do the work for you — we research, conduct due diligence, and pick out the best security and protection professionals to connect with you.
We’re waiting on you now; you can always contact us or book a free consultation anytime. Let us help you secure your organization’s protection from the vile factor of insider threats as best as possible!