When we talk about security threats to the enterprise, the focus often centers on hackers and other external parties. In reality, the biggest danger to most organizations is the very users who work within. In fact, according to Gartner, more than 70% of unauthorized access to sensitive data is committed by a company’s own employees. The good news is enough research has been done to identify the five most common insider threats and, more importantly, what your organization can do to prevent and protect against them. Let’s take a look.
Problem: Sensitive Data Sharing via Email or IM
Along with the convenience of quick and/or instant electronic communications also comes the greater risk of confidential information being shared via one of these tools, like email or instant messaging. Thankfully, this is one of the easiest insider threats to manage and control.
Solution: Encrypt, Analyze and Filter
The easiest way to prevent sensitive data from being shared electronically is to ensure that all messages and the content contained within (including attachments) are properly encrypted. Additionally, you can set up a network analyzer and content filtering which will help to automatically identify and block any classified information from going out. Lastly, outsourced or perimeter-based messaging solutions often provide easy to manage content filtering and blocking, so know and take advantage of what’s available to you.
Problem: Remote Access Exploitation
One of the greatest benefits of today’s technology is the flexibility it affords to be able to access networks and internal systems from anywhere. Unfortunately, this same advancement can also prevent a whole new set of risks to the integrity and security of sensitive data. The ability to access information from off-site via remote access software can make it easier and more tempting to steal and compromise that data. Furthermore, inadequately protected remote devices could end up in the wrong hands if they become lost or stolen.
Solution: Establish Stronger Remote Work Guidelines
Controlling who can access and share files and keeping a close watch on OS and application logins is critical. Implementing tighter security controls, particularly those systems that are most sensitive and therefore pose the greatest risk can provide a much greater degree of protection. Likewise, monitoring and limiting employee usage through logs and audit trails will also add another layer of security. Finally, establishing stronger password requirements, using multi-factor authentication and enabling screen saver timeouts can prevent unauthorized access issues.
Problem: Peer-to-Peer File Sharing
P2P sharing software is a great tool for fostering collaboration and improving efficiency amongst employees, but these platforms also pose a significant security risk. All it takes is one ill-intentioned individual to misconfigure the software and suddenly your internal network and drives are available for anyone to access.
Solution: Implement More Stringent P2P Policies
The best way to prevent against P2P software vulnerabilities is to not allow it within your organization. Implementing a network analyzer and routinely performing firewall audits will further strengthen your defense. For optimum protection, a P2P firewall is recommended. If you do happen to allow P2P software, a perimeter-based content monitoring solution can help keep sensitive information secure.
Problem: Insecure Wireless Network Usage
Accessing confidential data via unsecured wireless networks can potentially place your organization at risk, even if that insider threat is unintentional. If your employees work remotely and use WiFi or Bluetooth connections, all it takes is one breach of a file transfer or email communication for your valuable data to be compromised.
Solution: Provide a Safer Alternative
Rather than allowing employees to utilize airwaves that are not adequately secure, providing your WiFi users with a secure wireless hotspot is the ideal solution. Use a VPN for remote connectivity and implement a personal firewall for an added layer of protection. Don’t forget internal wireless networks, either. Always use encryption, authentication and logging. If Bluetooth is not necessary, disable it or, at the very least, make your devices undiscoverable.
Problem: Participating in Discussions on External Boards or Blogs
Whether it’s posting a question on a message board for support purposes or commenting on a thought-provoking blog, employees could inadvertently put your sensitive information at risk without even realizing it.
Solution: Filter and monitor.
Filtering content at the network perimeter is the most effective way to identify and block sensitive data from being shared externally. Of course, as with everything else, there’s always a chance that encrypted transmissions could be missed and may end up on such sites. For best results, setting up a notification system, such as Google Alerts, which will let you know any time certain keywords (specified by you) are used on the web.
Ultimately, managing insider threats should be an important component of your overall cyber security incident response strategy. Implementing tools like automation can help further identify, address and remediate security incidents – including those caused by internal parties – so that damages can be mitigated.