August 15, 2022

Identifying Preventive Measures For Possible Insider Threats

Insider threat continues to pose a serious problem to a lot of organizations around the world. An insider threat can be defined as an employee, contractor, former employee, business associate, or any other individual within a company who has access to the systems network and sensitive information and can cause harm to the organization.

The most advanced firewall or multi-factor authentication cannot stop an individual who is fully authorized to access the system. Neither can be keeping files separate or enforcing duty separation.

Insider threats can be controlled and managed by procedures, technologies, and policies that help prevent the misuse of privileges and the harm they can cause.

In this article, we will take a look at six effective preventative measures for possible Insider threats. Let’s dive straight in!

Educate employees

Employees are a company’s greatest strength and also its greatest liability. Including insider threat awareness education and training for all employees can go a long way in preventing an involuntary security breach by a user who left shared files where they shouldn’t have, or misused a public WIFI hotspot, or got phished.

Train all contractors and employees on security awareness before allowing them access to your computer network. For instance, you can perform phishing attacks on employees’ mailboxes and phones to determine users who require additional training in security awareness.

Education provides your staff with the knowledge they require to recognize when someone is engaging in something fishy and dicey, so they can report it. You can offer incentives such as rewards to encourage employees to report security threats. Education becomes part of the solution to reducing insider threat, instead of being the problem.

Implement strong authentication

Users must access the network using credentials that identify and personalize them. Put otherwise, every user must have a unique login ID and password.

However, it’s important to note that just using valid credentials can leave your organization vulnerable to an attacker. This is because hackers can get the credentials from a compromised 3rd party, a phishing attack, or steal them from a coworker’s desk.

Valid and unique credentials are never enough. You must also have multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA prevents attackers from using the user ID and password after obtaining them illegally.

Monitor user behavior

The most effective preventative measure to insider threat is tracking user behavior to detect and predict abnormal behavior regarding data theft or potential sabotage.

The application of science to develop entity and user behavior baselines from access to historical activity is referred to as User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UBEA). Analytics is employed to track user and entity behavior as it’s happening, once the behavior baselines are determined.

UEBA analyzes tons of data to provide valuable insight into what’s actually happening with your company’s users in real-time.

The key to identifying insider threats is to recognize when user behavior deviates from the norm so that corrective action can be taken. This process can be automated for optimum effect in organizations that have thousands of employees where you’re reviewing millions of activities and events.

Remove dormant and orphan accounts

How many dormant accounts are still in your network? How many users who inherited authority from a colleague during a project that ended a long time ago still have access to confidential information? How many employees who no longer work with the organization are still in your directory? These are some of the issues that must be addressed regularly.

Develop a comprehensive user termination procedure to protect your company technologically and legally from former employees. Work closely with HR to ensure that idle and orphan accounts are purged from the network and unauthorized users do not have access to sensitive data.

Control 3rd party access

Some severe security breaches occur when a third party is compromised, thereby allowing the hacker access to sensitive information from their targeted company. Holding 3rd parties to the same security standards used by your organization is the main challenge faced by most companies.

Third-party access must be carefully monitored and controlled to ensure that somebody over there is not trying to access the information they shouldn’t. Besides, you don’t have eyes into their organization, so you can never fully trust them in yours.

Enforce duty separation and eliminate privileged access abuse

Implement role-based access controls to prevent employees from accessing sensitive information that they don’t need to fully execute their jobs. Also, ensure that employees with administrative positions have unique and separate accounts for their non-administrative and administrative duties.

Privileged users can become a serious threat when it comes to insider threats. Luckily, there are tools for controlling and monitoring sensitive information.

In addition, be on the lookout for common behaviors that indicate a user’s effort to misuse their privileges. This makes it easier to identify and stop them before they can cause serious damage.

What are you doing to deter insider threats in your company and how has your experience been? We’d love to hear your feedback.

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