When it comes to cyberattacks and security threats, the most common picture that comes to mind is a faceless hacker on the other side of the world, hiding in a dark while trying to break into your system to steal money or extort you. However, a good portion of all cyberattacks come from inside your company.
While insider attacks might not be the most prevalent threat, businesses still need to take them seriously. From prevention to detection and response, you should treat insider threats like any other threat. Otherwise, they’ll become the new security hole that attacks flow through.
Understanding Insider Attacks
Insider attacks are cyberattacks that come from inside the business. The perpetrator is usually someone trusted within the company, such as an employee, staff member, or contractor with physical or digital access to your system. This makes it easy for the attacker to install malware, corrupt files, or leak information without hacking through the system.
Like other forms of cyber threats, insider attacks come in various types, defined mainly by the attacker’s motivation and intentions. Some include:
- The Oblivious Insider– An employee or contractor, with no malicious intentions, can be compromised by an outsider to gain access to the network. The oblivious insider is usually someone with little cybersecurity training or awareness of social engineering schemes, making them an easy target.
- The Careless Insider– An employee or contractor who doesn’t follow proper cybersecurity measures to meet higher goals or reduce their workload. Their carelessness often leaves a couple of holes in the company’s security that a hacker can exploit.
- The Susceptible Insider– An employee or contractor that isn’t the happiest or loyal working for their company. This makes them an easy target to either bribe or recruit for an attack with ideological or financial motivations.
- The Malicious Insider– An employee or contractor who gets a temporary, part-time, or full-time job at a company to execute an insider attack. Their motivation could be ideological or financial.
How to Prevent Insider Attacks
Luckily, just like other types of cyber threats, insider attacks are preventable. There are multiple steps to take in order to secure all access points to your network. Some include:
- Staff Education– Hold regular cybersecurity awareness training seminars and classes for all employees, especially ones with higher access privileges. This helps employees understand the importance of even the minor details of security, such as logging out of accounts, changing passwords regularly, and only using a secure internet connection and phone line.
- Background Checks– Running a background and personality checks on newer employees might be necessary depending on your industry and the number of threats you face. This reduces the chances of hiring a malicious individual with the sole intention of executing an attack.
- Limited Access Privileges– Limit employee and contractor access to data to only what’s necessary. If someone doesn’t need regular access to specific files, they shouldn’t have it at times. This can decrease the risks of exploitation if a malicious insider were able to infiltrate the staff.
- Monitor Sensitive Data– Keep a close eye on sensitive data like financial records and client data. This allows you or your IT team to be immediately notified when someone tampers with data or deletes parts of it.
- Monitor Employee Activity– Unusual employee activity, such unexpected logins and changes in shifts, might be signs that an employee is planning an insider attack.
- Ensure Staff Satisfaction– Listening carefully to employee’s complaints and requests will make them less likely to aid in an attack and more likely to trust the management and IT teams to report the attempt.
The Last Line of Defense
After implementing all the necessary procedures and precautions, you’re left with one final step: using managed detection and alert monitoring services. These services monitor all access points of your network using a cloud-based security system. They detect unusual behavior by analyzing patterns of employees using machine learning. When the system detects something unusual, it sends an alert to a predetermined individual with the authority and knowledge to react to the incident.
The Work Never Stops
As data’s value and competition between various companies in the same industry both increase, cyberattacks will also increase. That includes insider attacks, the easiest of all attacks to execute. You, your security team, and your contractors need to stay on top of the latest cyberattacks trends. Regular follow-up will allow you to adjust security measures and employee education to prevent future insider attacks.