Best practices to fight insider threat

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An insider threat is any unauthorized or unintended security threat to an organization's data or information systems that originates from an individual operating inside the organization. The insider doesn't necessarily need to be a current employee—they could be a contractor, or a temporary or former employee. Insider threats can lead to data theft, data misuse, sabotage, espionage, and fraud, as well as compromise of an organization's data integrity, availability, confidentiality, and more.

10 best practices to fight insider threats


Establish baseline behavior for both individuals and networks

Consistently record and monitor the normal pattern for employees' baseline behavior so you have something to compare sudden or unusual activity with. Analyze the net volume of file transfer across your network, total access attempts to your most critical files, and other critical access points for easier detection of abnormalities.


Run periodic, organization-wide risk assessments

Determine the type of data your organization processes, how critical the data is, where it's stored, and who has access to it. An inventory of your organization's data and other relevant details helps establish the type of security and access control measures needed. Also, all third-party vendors working with your organization should conduct risk assessments to thoroughly investigate their security posture and keep your organization safe.


Implement strict password and account management policies

Deploy multi-factor or step-up authentication and enforce strong password policies to fortify your organization's network. Additionally, lock out users from their sessions after a fixed period of inactivity to prevent malicious actors from misusing abandoned systems in the middle of a session.


Provide the least amount of privilege possible

Restrict the presence of overexposed files, folders, and shares. Use a robust access management system to prevent unwarranted access and reduce the number of access points through which malicious actors can easily exploit your organization's data.


Prevent logic bombs from executing

A logic bomb is a piece of malicious code hidden within a script that becomes active when a particular condition—such as a specific date, time, or launch of an application—is satisfied. Clear segmentation of duties and code reviews could help deter malicious actors from setting off a logic bomb.


Educate your end users

Regularly train your employees on how to spot and avoid common insider attack scenarios such as phishing emails and malvertisements. Educate and caution your employees about the consequences of violating organizational policies and procedures.


Scrutinize your remote access policies

Design and implement remote access policies with extra scrutiny to ensure that only trusted employees and partners are provided access. Confine remote access only to devices issued by your organization. Monitor and control remote access from all endpoints, especially mobile devices.


Deprovision orphaned user accounts

Closely monitor employees and third parties for suspicious behavior when they're nearing the end of their service. Disable each of their access points to the organization's various physical and IT resources immediately after they exit the organization.


Audit, monitor, and record all access attempts

Capture and record every file access and transfer. Analyze and create a baseline for user and network behavior to easily detect deviations from the regular pattern.


Enforce active remediation

Using active remediation techniques, such as USB blocking, strong email filtering, and pop-ups asking for authorization when accessing critical files, helps build your organization's defense against unintentional insider attacks.

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