Because insiders need a higher degree of access and trust to complete their tasks, insider attacks are particularly challenging to defend against. System administrators, for instance, can have a valid need to access critical systems and data. But what if they misuse that trust or were just pretending to gain the company’s confidence in the first place?
Insider Threats Defined
There are many ways that insiders can pose a threat. Some are dishonest people who want to make money. Others are merely negligent or uninformed workers who open an email link, causing a wave of malware to be released.
The Five Types of Actors Responsible For Insider Threats
- The Negligent Employee
A negligent worker is anyone who engages in improper behavior but not out of malice. In their efforts to complete their tasks, they frequently overuse resources, violate permitted use guidelines, and install apps of doubtful origin.
- The Unreliable third party
This business associate improperly accesses or uses an asset or breaches security through negligence, abuse, or malice. Sometimes it’s vicious and purposeful, and other times, it’s because of carelessness. For instance, a system administrator might accidentally expose sensitive data by misconfiguring a server or database to be accessible to everyone rather than private and access-controlled.
- The hidden agent
This is a compromised insider hired, paid off, or approached by a third party to steal data and information. Targets of choice include people who are struggling financially and objectors who oppose the corporate mission.
- The dissatisfied worker
An employee who has been dumped or treated poorly and is driven to undermine a company from within by interfering with operations and erasing or changing data
- The Malicious Insider
A malicious insider refers to anyone with legitimate access to business assets and frequently seeks to use those assets for personal advantage by stealing and using the information in new ways.
Critical Tactics to Reduce Your Risk of an Insider Attack
- Create an incident response and security team.
A committed team is necessary for a successful security policy, even if it only comprises one person. The team should be in charge of preventing, discovering, and handling events and should have documented strategies and processes for each. A major element in spotting insider threats as fast as possible is to give them, along with general IT personnel, security training to stay on top of the latest strategies and dangers.
- Create temporary accounts
Establish temporary accounts for contractors and interns that expire on a specific date associated with the conclusion of their project or contract. This will guarantee that the former employees won’t use the accounts once they leave. You can always postpone the account expiration date.
- Follow employee termination principles carefully.
When staff members leave, disable accounts and remove access as quickly as possible. When employees go, or a plan is in place for them to do so, HR and employee management should contact IT immediately. Many financial institutions notify the IT department before impending layoffs so the IT staff can immediately end the former employee’s access as they leave the building.
- Identify dissatisfied workers
Disgruntled workers may be more likely to pose as insider threats if a desire for vengeance, a plot to steal information and sell it to rivals, or simple avarice coupled with a lack of respect for the company motivates them. Besides monitoring these individuals, try to address the root of their discontent to improve things.
- Carry out an overall risk analysis for the company.
Make sure you know your most important assets, their weaknesses, and any potential dangers to them. Include all the risks posed by insider threats. Then, based on the threats’ order of importance, prioritize them and continuously improve your IT security infrastructure.
- Strengthen network security policy.
Make sure your firewall is correctly configured. Create a blacklist of all hosts and ports, then create a whitelist of only the ones you need. Additionally, ensure that none of your crucial systems connect directly to the internet. To prohibit users from freely navigating the network, divide the network into VLANs that are specified by business units. Identify the typical network device behavior as a baseline.
- Enforce least privilege and duty separation.
Implement role-based access restrictions. Set up your system so that anyone looking to copy data needs permission from two users (an additional security measure is to encrypt the data); to delete important data or make configuration changes, you need approval from two system administrators. Set up group policy to prohibit employees from accessing unnecessary data or services for their tasks, and administrators should have separate, individual accounts for administrative and non-administrative operations.
- Discard your outdated equipment and documents responsibly.
Ensure that all data on a disk drive has been entirely erased and is unrecoverable before throwing it away or recycling it. Make sure you give an IT engineer the responsibility of overseeing the destruction of any outdated hard drives and other IT equipment that may have contained important data.
For more information on how to protect your business from all types of security threats, visit Unity IT. Call us at (559) 297-1007 or reach out via our contact form.