Insider Threats: The Leading Threat to Data Security

Data Protection

Insider Threats: The Leading Threat to Data Security

Organisations across the world are constantly introspecting when it comes to data security, with over 45% claiming they are helpless in preventing loss of data due to malicious insiders. Particularly vulnerable are industries within healthcare, education, and finance. All of these experience exceedingly high number of insider threats, from replicating and marketing medical information to insider trading and data breaches either intentionally or otherwise.



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A Mimecast research revealed that over 90% of the participants considered malicious insiders as a grave threat to an organisation’s reputation and security. One in five IT security leaders regarded malicious insiders as the leading threat to data security. This revelation is one of the many countless studies conducted on insider threats as a major security hazard. This consistent data is evident that malicious insiders attribute for a major source of this risk and concern over security readiness.

To better understand the intention behind insider threats, how and where they come about, here are some examples of insider threats that caused breaches to data security. These can be useful in knowing how to start taking the necessary steps to protect systems and data.

List Threat Of Data Security

  1. Between 2014 and 2015, there was a massive data breach at Anthem Inc., that took over news headlines. However, in 2017, the insurance services within Anthem discovered that a particular employee had been stealing and misusing consumer data since 2016. The insider theft at Anthem resulted in personal information being stolen for over 18,000 members. It was discovered that the insider who was guilty had among other violations, sent a file containing information on Anthem members to his own personal email address.
  2. A highly publicised credit card data breach took place at Target because of a third-party vendor taking advantage of credentials that it was allowed to access. The access to credentials allowed cyber criminals to exploit the vulnerabilities in the payment systems of Target, gain entrance into the consumer database, and install viruses. The data breach at Target served as a wake-up call to other organisations that malicious insiders could be creative when it comes to stealing data from vital systems.
  3. In some cases, carelessness can result in a large insider threat incident. For instance, in the case of RSA some staff members clicked on phishing emails that resulted in a widespread, sophisticated and relentless attacks compromising over 40 million records of employees, the extent of which is still unknown. Pretending to be trusted employees and contacts, the hacker groups in tandem with a foreign government launched an attack on RSA employees. When employees unintentionally clicked on the emails, the hackers entered the system and compromised all authentication processes. Sometimes, an organisation’s biggest asset can also become its greatest weakness; in the case of RSA, due to insider negligence, its employees admitted entry to hackers to wreak havoc and compromise data.



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How They Breach Your Data Security

From credit card data, consumer information, intellectual property or potentially embarrassing emails that have been leaked and exposed in recent times, it has been shown that a majority of the data breaches have involved an insider in some capacity. And in many cases, these incidents were proven to be malicious in nature.

By focusing mostly on perimeter defence and external dangers, organisations globally contend with the perils that comes from their own staff, accentuating the need for businesses to enforce employee cognisance and training as well as building a cyber resilience scheme that comprises both technology—and human-based defences.

Almost every organisation struggles with the dangers put forth by specific people who intend to deliberately attack to gain access to information or funds. Most organisations trust their staff with classified data and access to confidential systems, but fail to provide them with effective training and education concerning data security or advanced document solutions that go hand-in-hand with their functionalities. Businesses worldwide must work together to bring about better and more robust business practices to prevent data theft.

Leading document security solutionsfor data protection can help strengthen an organisations’ complete cyber repercussion strategy. More importantly, organisations must collaborate in controlling malicious insiders or rogue employees that make use of cloud storage services or file sharing processes to steal important organisational information. If security protocols or established data security mechanisms are not put in place in organisations containing classified information, it can become exceedingly difficult for IT security departments to ensure that sensitive data has not been breached.

It is time for organisations to pay due attention to the dangers of insider threat and re-evaluate access provided to specific services containing company data while ensuring that every other security process is enforced efficiently.

At the end of the day, the dangers posed to an organisation’s information are not always going to be malicious, but the outcomes they produce are grave and far-reaching. It is important that every organisation understands the various ways information can be breached and what those threats look like. This can help in forming a robust and resilient enterprise that places importance on the data security of the organisation and its customers first.

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