With the upswing in cyberattacks from malicious individuals or groups attempting to exploit corporate vulnerabilities and sensitive information, organizations tend to overlook another major threat: their employees.

This article offers answers to questions like what are some potential insider threat indicators, why is it important to identify potential insider threat indicators, and what are the ways to combat them to maintain your organization’s cybersecurity posture.

What are insider threats?

Contrary to popular belief, insider threats are not limited to threats that arise within an organization's immediate perimeter. Apart from current employees, these threats can be launched by former employees, third-party vendors, consultants, or others who have profound knowledge of the organization's systems.

The motive behind insider attacks may differ in each case; potential motives include revenge, financial gain, and espionage, and perpetrators may of course have no motive at all but instead carry out the attack by accident. Although it is incredibly daunting to think of current or former employees as potential malicious sources, insider threats are becoming increasingly common and should never be neglected.

Common indicators for identifying insider threats

Spotting indicators of insider threats can go a long way in thwarting such attacks. The following are some key indicators of an insider attack.

Unusual logins

Watch out for any employees who work a typical nine-to-five but start logging in at odd times. They might try working outside the usual hours of their group without any real reason to do so.

Strange access requests

Look for malicious insiders trying to access unauthorized files or systems that they generally would not need for their day-to-day tasks. Employees trying to access information that is unrelated to their job function is often an early sign of an insider attack.

Escalation of privileges

An impending threat actor may try to escalate their privileges to gain further access to sensitive information that, if leaked, could be detrimental to the organization. Sometimes a trusted administrator with heightened access to systems may grant permissions to employees who should not have them.

Use of prohibited storage media

In an attempt to steal sensitive data, employees with direct access to systems within the network may do so with the help of external drives, discs, etc. This can also be in the form of unwarranted emails to recipients outside the organization. Your IT team should keep track of what data is downloaded or copied from your organization’s on-premises or cloud infrastructure. If large files are being copied from strange locations that cannot be explained, something is likely amiss.

Sudden resignation

Insiders trying to sabotage the organization may do so while deciding to quit. They do not have much to lose since they are leaving the company. Look into their activity for the past 90 days and figure out if they have done anything wrong.

Mitigating insider threats

Insider threats may be on the rise, but with a proper strategy in place, it’s easy to thwart them. By regularly exercising the following tips, your organization can stay one step ahead of potential threats.

  • Deploy a security information and event management (SIEM) solution that provides granular details on insiders within your organization's network.
  • Perform an insider threat assessment within your organization and determine what you need to protect.
  • Consider evaluating a privilege access management (PAM) solution that helps you easily track any escalations in privileges.
  • Educate employees regularly with awareness programs on how accidental insider attacks may cost the organization.
  • Never be complacent. Always be vigilant because insider threats arise when you least expect them.

Check out Log360, a comprehensive SIEM solution that helps you steer clear of insider attacks.

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