Insider threats: Definition, examples and security measures for your organization

Insider threats are cybersecurity risks that arise from within an organization. This type of threat is when users who have legitimate access to company data, such as employees or third-party consultants, misuse their privileges in ways that can result in the leak or theft of critical information. Worldwide, approximately 70% of organizations are reportedly noting frequent occurrences of insider attacks. These incidents can have potentially fatal impact on businesses in terms of loss of privacy, financial penalties from possible lawsuits, as well as demerits to the company’s brand value and credibility.

Types of insider threats, plus examples

Deliberate attacks

These types of attacks are also called turncloaks and are associated with many high-profile companies that have had data stolen by former employees, like Tesla and SunTrust Bank. Aside from employees, any verified personnel such as partners or contractors can also be involved in insider threats. Motivations for disclosing sensitive data can include:

  1. Trading for financial gain—for example, selling personally identifiable information (PII) to illicit data farming apps or third-party websites.
  2. Using business-specific knowledge for competitive advantages—for example, hijacking intellectual property to incorporate it into the insider’s own projects.
  3. Disclosing private information to the public to disparage the company’s reputation after being fired or furloughed.

Unintentional leakage

These types of threats involve negligent insiders who are either not aware of which files are confidential or which corresponding protocols need to be followed, or are aware of the rules but still accidentally mishandle information. The main causes of insider negligence and unintentional leaks are human error, unchecked environmental hazards, and hardware failures.

How do you spot insider threats?

Eliminating insider threats requires continuous scanning to ascertain the whereabouts of confidential data and detect any suspicious user actions. Atypical user behavior can include attempting to access information that is irrelevant to the user’s role, uploading information to non-enterprise applications, or transferring information through unofficial routes such as personal emails. To safeguard your organization from insider disruptions, a DLP solution can be utilized to effectively detect digital warning signs and respond to unwarranted behavior.

Cybersecurity tools to automate insider threat prevention methods

Endpoint DLP Plus is a data loss prevention tool for identifying all types of sensitive data within a network and establishing defenses that prevent the unintentional misuse or deliberate extraction of crucial information. It can also be utilized to secure the various exit avenues for data, which aids in insulating business operations and upholding data privacy.

Steps to combat insider threats using Endpoint DLP Plus

Categorize applications as enterprise-appropriate.

Numerous types of applications are used to process data; however, not all of them are safe. Only apps that are from reputed vendors and necessary for users to complete their tasks should be categorized as enterprise-friendly. If an insider willfully or accidentally attempts to copy data from enterprise apps to unverified apps, Endpoint DLP Plus will block that action.

Discover and classify sensitive data.

Endpoint DLP Plus scans all managed endpoint devices and consolidates all the different types of data found, whether structured or unstructured. Text and images that contain PII, financial records, and health charts can all be detected and accurately labeled as sensitive. Since data disclosure involving sensitive data has the most serious consequences, posting additional security for that data can make it harder for insiders to extract such information and can preemptively deter attacks.

Enforce cloud upload protection.

Once sensitive data has been identified, rules can be defined to dictate exactly which cloud applications can be used to upload data. Endpoint DLP Plus, can automatically stop sensitive content from being exported via unsanctioned web browsers to various third-party cloud storage applications.

Prevent transfer of sensitive content using clipboard tools.

If an application blocks sensitive data from being transferred, users may resort to third-party utilities such as clipboard tools to take screenshots of the content. In such scenarios, Endpoint DLP Plus promptly inhibits screenshots from being transferred from work to personal digital spaces.

Implement email security measures.

Data exchanged via email will have to remain private, and it is recommended that it stays within the boundaries of the organization. Endpoint DLP Plus allows the inclusion of only trusted company domains and Outlook clients, so if users do try to transfer company data outside of the network, or using their personal email addresses, they will have to provide a reason and the admin will be informed.

Manage data access via peripheral devices.

If data transfer through digital avenues proves unsuccessful, actors might be inclined to physically move data using devices. With Endpoint DLP Plus, admins can permit only the USB's and peripheral devices belonging to trusted personnel to access data and can also limit the downloading and printing of sensitive information. All other unauthorized device connections will be locked down by default.

Receive instant alerts and extensive audits.

After data loss prevention rules are put in place, any action to bypass these security measures, such as copying data using unapproved applications or sending information through unverified emails, will be blocked and audited in real time for further analysis. Endpoint DLP Plus also offers a variety of detailed reports and dashboard summaries so admins can gain deep understanding of data trends and user behavior within their network, which can aid in pinpointing potential discrepancies.

Easily implement all of the above-mentioned insider threat prevention methods to maximize your organization's data defense. Download a 30-day free trial!