3 Critical Elements of Effective Insider Risk Management
Whether enterprises are grappling with rapidly changing market conditions, ongoing pandemic disruptions, geopolitical disputes, or shifting workplace arrangements, threat actors seek to seize the moment to undermine network integrity. or compromise data confidentiality.
In many ways, their efforts are paying off. According to a recent industry survey, 66% of respondents said they had experienced a ransomware attack in 2021, a year-over-year increase of 29%. Meanwhile, threat actors send billions of phishing emails every day, putting businesses one click away from a major cybersecurity or data privacy incident.
Coupled with record recovery costs and devastating reputational damage, it’s no wonder companies continue to devote more financial and human resources to cybersecurity efforts.
In doing so, Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigation Report makes it clear how to optimize those investments: prepare to defend against insider threats. Notably, the report found that 82% of data breaches involve the human element, including “social attacks, errors, and abuse.”
Insiders, including employees, contractors, vendors, and other trusted third parties, pose a serious cybersecurity risk. They have legitimate access to a company’s computer network, allowing accidental or malicious insiders to cause significant damage. That’s why every organization must be accountable to insiders, recognizing that insider threat mitigation is critical to guarding against cybersecurity risks.
Here are three essential elements of effective insider risk management.
#1 Embrace human intelligence
Insider threats include unintentional and intentional acts that compromise cybersecurity, and human intelligence can help companies identify and respond to insider threats. As the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) helpfully explains, “An organization’s personnel are an invaluable resource for observing behaviors of concern, as are those close to an individual, such as family, friends and colleagues”.
Because these people are in the best position to understand a person’s changing life circumstances and related challenges, they can provide critical context for potentially problematic behavior.
For example, behavioral indicators may include:
- Dissatisfied or dissatisfied insiders
- Documented attempts to circumvent security protocols
- Changing work habits or regularly working outside of working hours
- Showing resentment towards colleagues or leadership
- Consider quitting or actively seek new job opportunities.
To translate insights into action, companies must adopt a “see something, say something” policy, giving every employee the communication structure to flag potential threats before they become vulnerabilities.
When implemented effectively, these programs can make human intelligence an essential part of an effective insider risk management program.
#2 Leverage software solutions
In today’s digital business environment, software solutions are an important part of an effective insider threat prevention program.
Specifically, businesses should look to three categories of software to detect, deter, and prevent insider threats, including:
- User activity monitoring. This software assesses the digital activity of insiders to identify malicious or risky activity. It can often be configured to prevent unwanted behavior or notify cybersecurity teams, allowing businesses to be more responsive to insider threats regardless of their physical location.
- Analysis of user and entity behavior. This software identifies irregularities by establishing baseline behavior and alerting leaders when employees deviate from these norms. For example, analysis of user and entity behavior would highlight an employee accessing corporate networks at odd hours or transmitting anomalous amounts or entities of data.
- Endpoint monitoring. This software protects corporate data against theft, preventing insiders from accidentally or maliciously exfiltrating sensitive data.
When enterprises leverage software solutions to enhance their human intelligence efforts, they can receive real-time alerts of abnormal behavior, better control enterprise data management, improve network visibility, and more. .
Ultimately, when technology works in tandem with human intelligence, companies are in the best position to reduce the risk of insiders compromising network integrity or data privacy.
#3 Focus on prevention
As businesses navigate this disruptive time, knowledge and control of insider activity is increasingly important. For example, a recent industry report revealed that there is a 37% chance that companies will lose their intellectual property (IP) when employees leave an organization. At the same time, 96% of respondents reported difficulty protecting corporate data from insider threats.
However, only a fifth of organizations specifically allocate part of their cybersecurity budget to insider threats.
In this case, the old adage “an ounce of prevention is better than cure” is particularly appropriate. The cost and consequences of failure are significant, while improving employee awareness and holding all employees accountable to data management and cybersecurity standards is relatively inexpensive.
By focusing on prevention rather than responding to the repercussions of a cybersecurity incident, every organization can make internal risk management an integrated component of its cybersecurity efforts. As the latest research proves, it could be the difference between success and failure when failure is simply not an option.
This article was originally published in Forbes and reproduced with permission.