Insider Attacks Threaten Your Success. How to Stop Them

insider attacks threaten

Unfortunately, one of the biggest threats to a business comes from inside security breaches. Such insider attacks threaten the success of your business, maybe even its continued existence.

More often than not, these breaches occur through unintentional mismanagement, rather than being planned attacks. Remember the phishing scam against the DNC during Hilary Clinton’s run for president in 2016? The scam uncovered hundreds of emails that, once shared by Wikileaks, sunk her campaign or at a minimum crippled her efforts.

Whether it is a malicious deed or a simple human error, there is no denying that insider attacks threaten your success and can result in extreme damage to your business and reputation. Because of this, it is imperative to make preventing insider cybersecurity attacks part of your fraud management plan.

Protect your business when insider attacks threaten your success

Insider attacks threaten your business and they’re not at all rare. Here are some recent examples where insiders caused massive damage by their intentional actions:

  • Tesla: A malicious insider sabotaged systems and sent proprietary data to third parties.
  • Facebook: A security engineer abused his access to stalk women.
  • Coca-Cola:  A malicious insider stole a hard drive full of personnel data.
  • Suntrust Bank: A malicious insider stole personal data, including account information, for 1.5 million customers to provide to a criminal organization.
  • And, we could go on.

We’d be here all day if we tried to list all the intentional and unintentional internal attacks just in the last year. Plus, the granddaddy of all internal attacks involves malicious actors gaining access to your computer to install malware or ransomware through the actions of your employees.

So, how do you prevent internal attacks? That’s our topic for today.

Provide IT security training for employees

It is vital to ensure that your employees are all aware of their responsibility when it comes to network security. IT security training is highly advised and you should monitor to ensure all employees pass an IT training program that’s updated as new threats arise. Employees who fail IT security training or fail to complete the training must face tangible consequences to motivate them to take training seriously.

You should never simply assume that your employees are aware of basic security skills so include training across a broad range of security threats. For example, one of the biggest blunders is a password that is easy to guess. Your employee may think that no one is going to guess that the word ‘monkey’ is his or her password. Why would they? But, ‘monkey’ actually features in the top 20 most commonly used passwords, so despite it being a random word it is actually very guessable.

You need to explain the importance of using a random mix of lower case letters, upper case letters, special characters, and numbers and enforce these stronger passwords when employees create them. Also, council employees against using words or numbers easily guessed, such as birthdays, kid’s and spouse’s names, anniversaries, and the like. Also, require frequent password updates to reduce the damage when a motivated bad actor uses AI to guess passwords. Passwords that expire every couple of months discourage such activities. A recent experiment showed the danger of AI combined with existing hacking tools when a company discovered 1/4 of almost 43 million LinkedIn passwords in under a minute.

In addition, ensure you eliminate bad habits among employees, such as jotting down important information and placing it on a post-it note on the computer screen. While having passwords close at hand is convenient, anyone can see it and some might seek to profit from your password by selling it on the dark web!

Of course, this is a very basic element of fraud management and security protection, but you have to start somewhere.

Mitigate threats from trusted business partners

When an employee or consultant leaves their position to take on a new role elsewhere, they may take sensitive information with them. This not only affects you if one of your own employees leaves; you need to think about potential damage to your trusted business partners and customers, too. If you don’t disable their passwords immediately, they may have access to your business’s sensitive information, including customer’s private information, such as credit card numbers. When disgruntled employees leave, this is a particularly thorny problem.

Even current employees represent a threat to your partners and customers. For instance, copying information onto a stick drive or unprotected cloud opens your business up to danger. A few years ago, 4.9 million health records for military members and their families were released when a drive containing records from Tricare, a military healthcare provider, was stolen from an employee’s car.

Establish a safe digital vault

It is also vital to ensure you make a safe harbor for your highly sensitive data. This could be anything from intellectual property to administrator account passwords to customer data. By establishing a digital vault you minimize the threat of accidental employee misuse as well as the threat of hackers.

But what actually is a digital vault? Well, a digital vault is a dedicated server that provides you with a single data access channel. There are various layers of integrated security associated with your digital vaults, such as full encryption, access control, VPN, and a firewall. A digital vault exists independent of your existing network infrastructure, which reduces the chances of a security breach.

IT service providers can assist with this. Check out for more information.

Watch out for suspect behavior

Finally, keep your eyes open for any behavior you would class as a suspect. That includes routine monitoring of access to sensitive information owned by your company and processes to stop unauthorized access or efforts to copy data. Restrict access to information to only those who must have the information to do their jobs properly.

For instance, many firms require employees to leave mobile devices outside the facility to ensure data isn’t copied onto the device. Others forbid employees to take data outside the facility, even when they have legitimate access to the data.  If someone catches your attention, keep him or her on your radar, monitor them closely, and act quickly. It is worth devising a clear strategy and procedure to use in this situation. Work closely with law enforcement as most data breaches represent felonies and law enforcement agencies have advanced tools to track a suspected data breach.

All in all, if you use these four tips that have been presented as a starting pointing to preventing internal security threats, you will surely lessen the chances of one happening at your company.

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