Using Insider Threat Awareness as a Risk Management Strategy
Companies are increasing their focus on building insider threat awareness to create more resilient defenses against theft and unauthorized access to insider information. In addition, as the cybersecurity and physical security worlds meld closer together, security teams are teaming up to combat insider threats to eliminate vulnerabilities.
In many ways, managing external threats is more straightforward than insider threat awareness. Seasoned security professionals know how to establish rings of security around assets, employees, and high-profile principals.
However, sensitivities around a corporate insider threat program make promoting insider threat awareness a challenge. Employees generally despise being treated as a possible insider threat, and there are concerns about exposure and how it will impact a business.
How are leading companies managing insider threat detection, prevention, and overall insider threat awareness? What tools are they using to manage risk better and protect against internal security gaps?
Searching for Insider Threat Indicators
As companies go through digital transformation, many organizations struggle with access restrictions and cloud management. As a result, it’s often easier for people to access documents and other sensitive data despite potential insider threat indicators.
Typically unauthorized access is one of the best and earliest indicators of an insider threat. To increase insider threat awareness, companies must prioritize physical and digital access permissions, so they can spot early warnings and act before a threat materializes.
Potential threat indicators are things like the following:
- Disgruntled employees with access to sensitive data, products, or work areas.
- Employees under significant financial distress.
- Unusual visitor requests
- Asking for access to digital assets or work areas unrelated to an employee’s work
- Attempts to access unauthorized materials
- Disregard for managing sensitive documents and other items
- Employees using someone else’s credentials
- Negative online behavior toward the company or employees
- Internal social engineering
These are just some of the clues security teams can watch for to increase insider threat awareness.
Insider Threat Awareness Strategies
Improving insider threat awareness yields positive results for companies because it stokes teamwork and asks questions that reveal holes in current physical and cyber security plans. In addition, navigating the risk landscape with a proper insider threat management program helps companies move quickly to develop new products and win markets.
However, one of the biggest advantages of insider threat awareness efforts is that it is a form of ongoing review companies can use to shore up their defenses against internal threats.
Here are some things to consider:
Physical Access Control
Most companies have badging, restricted areas, and types of physical access control that contribute to insider threat security. However, do your security teams have access to data that can spot unusual access patterns or attempts to get into restricted areas?
Malicious insider threats don’t often happen the first time someone accesses a restricted part of a company campus or research lab. Typically, they first attempt to see how far they can go and whether anyone will notice.
Digital Access Control
In regards to insider threat prevention, digital access control is much more complicated than physical access. In many instances, physical security teams don’t manage access to documents in the cloud, encryption protocols, etc. Individual teams often govern access with little to no insider threat awareness.
Security departments have more tools available today to monitor activity across the web, on social media, the dark web, court records, and other places to understand insider threat trends and where a company is at risk.
Insider Threat Training
Insider threat awareness training is a significant part of any successful program. Security personnel and key employees need insider threat training to understand where a company’s assets are and what constitutes unusual behavior or access patterns so that they can identify potential insider threat vulnerabilities and prevent malicious behavior early.
Teamwork Enhances Insider Threat Management
Companies are rightfully wary of over-sharing any unauthorized access or successful insider security threats. If word gets out, it could encourage future attacks or alert other bad actors to insider threat vulnerabilities in a company’s security measures.
Instead, many businesses need help with insider threat awareness. Almost every leading company fights insider threats, but few people know it’s happening.
There are benefits of being tight-lipped about insider threats, but increased insider threat awareness among relevant stakeholders can improve detection, hasten response time, and limit risk exposure.
Innovative companies are leveraging insider threat awareness technological advances such as the following for a holistic approach to security:
SINGLE-PLATFORM CASE MANAGEMENT
Security teams, legal departments, HR, and anyone else involved should have access to a single digital platform for threat assessment and management. When people can review indicators and assess threats in one place, they get better awareness that protects the company.
A CLEAR ESCALATION PATH
Forward-looking teams with high insider threat awareness set clear triggers and red flags that result in action. Whether it’s placing access restrictions or some form of outreach, there must be a clear escalation path so that everyone involved knows what to look for and do in the event of an insider threat.
Insider threat cases should be managed on a secure software platform with airtight access control protections. Privacy is an essential aspect of insider threat awareness.
It’s virtually impossible to capture internal triggers and unusual access patterns manually. In companies with tens or hundreds of thousands of employees, security teams should leverage the latest automation technologies to capture suspicious insider activities.
Of course, any allegation of insider threat activity requires extensive documentation for evidence. The best insider threat tools keep digital records and activity trails for future reference.
Keys to Workforce Engagement for Insider Threat Prevention
Companies are only as strong as their employees, and their insider threat awareness levels make them. Staying safe while fostering an open and inviting workplace is a difficult balance for many organizations. They want employees to feel welcome but don’t want the bad apples walking away with the crown jewels.
Too many companies treat employees with padded gloves regarding insider threat awareness. They warn them about tailgating or lending someone their badge. Perhaps they’ll discuss the company hardware or software use with an emphasis on following access control procedures.
Still, many employees don’t appreciate the importance of insider threat awareness because they don’t hear insider threat examples or know much about their corporate security program.
However, employees respond with much higher levels of insider threat awareness when they understand the risks around unauthorized access and what to look for with early detection. Therefore, corporate leadership should emphasize the importance of detecting insider threats while also managing any concerns around employee privacy.
The focus should be on higher insider threat awareness that protects the company and safeguards employees’ work.
Effective Insider Threat Awareness Management
Using the best insider threat software and vigilant threat assessment with an energized and committed workforce, a company can stop insider threats before they materialize.
- Encourage employee reporting on insider threat incidents.
- Find collaborative tools that enhance insider threat assessment and response.
- Discover how automating triggers like unusual activity or threatening trends makes insider threat management easier.
- Make insider threat detection tools more effective with real-time threat monitoring and standardized workflows.
- Create shared platforms for cyber and physical security teams.
Managing insider threats and building insider threat awareness is vital in a world with global workforces where the most prized assets are digital. Companies anticipating risks and getting in front of a potential inside threat are most likely to succeed. The key is working across teams to spread insider threat awareness and get everyone on board with protecting the business and its mission.
Does Ontic Offer an Insider Threat Monitoring Solution?
Ontic’s insider threat awareness and management solution protects people and assets against threats from inside and outside the organization. The real-time threat detection and visibility Ontic delivers offers unmatched preventative power in insider threat cases.
Insider threat teams use Ontic to detect signals early, research further, and maintain advanced investigations to help mitigate insider threats before they occur. Whether it’s identifying human error that could negatively impact the business or honing in on malicious insider threat activity, the Ontic platform provides your team with the tools to recognize and investigate threat signals rapidly to prevent incidents and reduce data loss, monetary loss, harm to reputation, and/or physical damage.
Teams use Ontic for continuous listening across the dark web, social media, court records, public records, and organizational systems to help detect unusual behavior patterns early. This allows teams to quickly activate workflows to gather more insider threat data, conduct investigative research, and monitor ongoing activities.
The cost of insider threats is too high. Without a holistic view of your risk profile, you’re missing important signals and the opportunity to address concerns proactively.