The 2020 Insider Threat Report by Cybersecurity Insiders discovered that out of the organizations surveyed, 68% felt vulnerable to insider threats1. These threats can take various forms, including data theft, IT sabotage, and fraud. The motivations behind the threats can range from financial gain to revenge, or even coercion by external actors.

The impact of insider threats is often severe. In addition to financial losses from theft or disruptions, organizations may also face reputational damage. Customers, partners, and stakeholders may lose trust in the organization's ability to protect its data and systems, which can have long-term implications for business relationships and growth.

Prevention Strategies

Preventing insider threats requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses technology, processes, and culture.

1. Employee Training and Awareness:

A well-informed workforce is one of the best defenses against insider threats. Regular training sessions should be held to educate employees about the nature and risks of insider threats. Employees should be taught how to handle sensitive data, identify phishing attempts, and report suspicious activities. Additionally, organizations should promote a security-aware culture where everyone understands their role in protecting the organization.

2. Robust Access Controls:

Access controls are a fundamental part of preventing insider threats. By implementing a principle of least privilege (PoLP) policy, organizations can ensure that employees only have access to the data and systems necessary for their job functions. Regular audits of access privileges can help identify and rectify any unnecessary access rights, reducing the potential attack surface.

3. Monitoring and Detection Systems:

Technological solutions play a critical role in detecting and mitigating insider threats. User and Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA) tools can monitor and analyze user behavior to identify abnormal activities that may indicate a threat. Similarly, Data Loss Prevention (DLP) tools can help prevent sensitive data from being leaked or stolen.

4. Incident Response Plan:

A robust incident response plan is essential for minimizing the damage from an insider threat. The plan should outline the steps to be taken in the event of a breach, including isolating affected systems, initiating an investigation, and communicating with stakeholders. Post-incident reviews can also provide valuable lessons for preventing future incidents.

5. Encourage a Positive Work Environment:

A positive work environment can discourage disgruntled employees from becoming insider threats. Open communication, fair treatment, and recognition for good work can help foster a sense of loyalty and satisfaction among employees.

6. Background Checks:

Thorough background checks can help identify potential insider threats before they become a problem. These checks should be carried out for all new hires and periodically repeated for existing employees, especially those with access to sensitive data.

In conclusion, while insider threats pose a significant risk, organizations can take proactive steps to prevent these threats and protect their valuable assets.


1 2020 Insider Threat Report