October 22, 2022

How to Protect Your Network from Internal Threats


The human aspect is frequently the most difficult to forecast and control regarding data protection. Some businesses spend money on employee training in the hopes that a knowledgeable workforce is conscious of the financial and reputational repercussions of data breaches. It will be sufficient to boost vigilance and discourage shoddy security procedures, also known as internal threats.

Cyber threats caused by an employee

The reality is that corporations frequently only need one irresponsible employee to cause a damaging security incident. The risk of hostile insiders and unhappy employees who seek to harm a company’s brand or steal data on their way out of an organization is also a constant possibility. An employee, former employee, contractor, business associate, or other organisation members who have access to sensitive information and IT systems and could harm the organization is considered an insider threat.

Policies, processes, and technology that help prevent privilege misuse or lessen potential harm can be used to manage insider risks. Using these internal threat prevention best practices, you may reduce the likelihood of compromising your sensitive data.

Learn how to minimize internal threats

Define explicit security agreements

To begin with, for any cloud service, specifically, access limitations and monitoring capabilities, define explicit security agreements. The cloud service providers should increase the network perimeter of the company and provide new attack vectors for nefarious insiders. Performing a risk analysis of the data you send to a cloud service provider is vital, especially if it contains sensitive information. For instance, financial services or intellectual property.

You must verify that the service provider poses a manageable level of risk and adheres to or exceeds the security protocols followed by your company. Also, you need to understand how the service provider’s data security runs. Remember to identify the person responsible for controlling logical and physical access to corporate cloud assets.

Perform Internal Threats Awareness Training

Furthermore, integrate insider threat awareness into routine employee security training. About one-third of all insider attacks are thought to have included unintentional actors. This simply means that an insider unintentionally allowed or enabled an attack. This can happen if a team member opens a phishing email or downloads a suspicious file or if a staff member inserts an infected USB into their office computer.

The easiest way to stop these kinds of assaults is to ensure that your personnel are educated on proper practices for online safety. The most crucial thing you might do is to educate your staff. Unintentional actors are considered to have taken part in about one-third of all insider attacks. This indicates that an insider accidentally allowed or made an attack possible. This may occur if a team member clicks on a phishing link, downloads a dubious file, or plugs an infected USB drive into their workplace computer.

The simplest way to prevent these attacks is to educate your employees about good Internet security practices. Your staff should undergo training and testing to prepare them for social engineering attacks, active shooter scenarios, and exposure to sensitive data. For instance, launch your own phishing assaults on their email accounts or conduct phone-based social engineering attacks. Anyone who fails these tests should receive more training, so do this.

Analyze Dangerous Actors

In accordance with your incident response policy, keep an eye on your security systems for any suspicious or disruptive activity. Make sure the infrastructure of your company is under observation and management. It is vital to set up alerts for all crucial events and systems and ensure that various channels are used to warn you when something is wrong. In fact, by implementing user behaviour analytics (UBA) tools, you can spot troublesome actors more rapidly.

Allow Access for Primary Job Duties Only

Your organization should only allow employees access to the important resources required to perform their primary job duties. By limiting access, you can reduce the size and impact of an assault. It also reduces the possibility of critical information falling into the wrong hands. Managers should always revise the access grants to employees to ensure they have the appropriate and necessary access based on their company role. Quickly withdraw the access from those who no longer have the needs.

Similarly, terminate the access securely with a new password for staff members who left the organization as soon as practicable. Integrate the account deactivation feature into the company’s offboarding procedures to protect company data when an employee departs the organization.

Limit Accessibility to Physical Assets

Important physical assets should also have restricted access. Allow users to access the basic resources necessary for their job without extra privileges, as suggested by the Principle of Least Privilege (POLP). Take safety precautions like key card entry systems, PIN codes, passwords, and biometric scanners to prevent insiders from accessing crucial IT resources. It includes server rooms and access controls like locks, security gates, and turnstiles.

Monitor the areas of interest by using video surveillance systems with motion sensors. Geofencing can be helpful for monitoring when someone enters or exits a predetermined virtual boundary, including the property, the building, or a zone within the building.

Erase or recycle any data from obsolete devices and documents completely until it is impossible to recover. Old hard discs and other IT equipment that formerly contained sensitive information should be physically destroyed. This is to ensure that the data they stored is lost for good.

Key Takeaways

Although insiders typically cause unintentional breaches, this does not preclude the potential for planned internal breaches. There may be instances where an employee steals secrets on purpose. However, the breaches frequently include warning indications before them. An employee who starts working more hours on-site overnight or logs in at strange times may indicate something dangerous. Inside the workplace, employees who often wander into their unrelated job scope are highly likely to steal confidential company data. These are some apparent behaviours that raise red flags.

Given the escalating cost of an insider breach, security teams must take the initiative to address these signs to prevent intentional and unintentional internal threats. Organizations can save millions of dollars in remediation costs by taking instant safety measurements.