Insider Threats are a Quiet Risk in your System

The Ripple Effects that Extend Outward from a Breach

According to the Verizon 2020 Data Breach report, 22% of all security incidents are perpetuated by insiders. In addition, the costs of insider breaches – caused either by human error or bad actors have – risen by 47% over the past two years. As an organization, a certain amount of trust is required to ensure that business runs smoothly. But, given the inherent risks involved, that trust should be limited to guard against breach risk.

The threat of sensitive, critical assets getting compromised, stolen, or mismanaged by internal users can vary. Insider threat risk needs to take into account malicious intent as well as accidents, negligence, or lack of training/awareness. Everything from termination gap threats — where an internal user is terminated and still has time to use their access for harm — to basic human error, to even account abuse or access creep, the threat comes in many forms, and any one of them could lead to a costly, devastating breach.

The Consequences Of Insider Threats

No matter the root cause, the result is the same: reputation damage, fines, compliance issues, and, of course, the ripple effects that extend outward from a breach.

The biggest risk is, of course, the exposure of sensitive information. It could be an employee maliciously stealing valuable assets for another party, or an employee who has too much privileged access and falls for a phishing scam, or even a simple human error that accidentally exposes assets.

How To Mitigate These Threats

While any access carries with it an inherent threat, there are a few key ways to reduce the risk of a data breach caused by employees.

Best practices include:

  • Zero Trust Network Access. ZTNA specifically limits which sensitive systems a user can access and is implemented with various security controls, such as multi-factor authentication, least privileged access, access and employment verification and attestation, credential vaulting, and detailed auditing. It removes all trust from every user, therefore significantly reducing the threat of an internal attack.
  • User Access Reviews. A user access review is a periodic inventory of access rights to certain networks and systems and the users who have access permissions into those networks and systems. Reviewing internal access is the simplest way to make sure that no user: 1. Has access they shouldn’t, and 2. Isn’t accessing assets they don’t need to be accessing. It can catch a potential breach before it even occurs.
  • Access Control. The goal of access control is to create friction between a user and their access and stop any unauthorized access that could lead to a security or privacy breach. Whether it’s through a time-based access schedule, manual access approvals, or access notifications, access control can stop a user from accessing an asset they shouldn’t, therefore mitigating the insider threat.

If you have questions about IT security and the evolving threat landscape, call ITPAC today.