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How to Identify Insider Threat

by Emily Rich

What are insider threats?

An insider threat is a potential risk to an organization that comes from malicious insiders. These are often people within the organization, such as employees, former employees, contractors, or business associates, who have inside details about the organization and often involve sensitive data.

Insider threats can involve current or former employees using their access privileges to gain access to the organization's network and gain confidential or sensitive information. Insider threats can also involve employees using their privileged access to sabotage and steal trade secrets or customer information for the commercial gain of another organization.

Insider threat incidents in the US have more than doubled in the last two years, with businesses across the country experiencing 2,500 internal security breaches every day. Insider attacks can cost a company millions of dollars; therefore company's security team should use security tools to limit external threats and detect potential insider threat.

Who are the malicious insiders?

In most cases, malicious insiders are employees who have been granted system access rights to sensitive data, privileged accounts and systems. They may be authorized to perform specific tasks or access sensitive documents, but they use that access to steal or damage sensitive information, intellectual property and prevent the organization's financial gain.

Malicious insider threats can occur in any industry and at any size of company. The most common types of malicious insider attacks include:

Data breaches

This is one of the most common types of cyberattacks. Malicious insiders gain access to sensitive information and then use it with malicious intent for their own personal gain or share it with others.

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For example, an employee might need access to your company’s credit card processing systems so he can process his own credit card payments for his online business on behalf of your organization. Or, a developer might have access to data about customer accounts in order to create new features for your software product. If he decides to sell that information on the dark web, you could end up having no way of knowing who has obtained your customer records. This is particularly relevant to a disgruntled employee who might want to intentionally sabotage a company.

Such attacks must be dealt with by the IT administrator in a company in a timely manner. Therefore, it is important that a company has a security team with security controls who can detect insider threats. This is called threat detection or threat intelligence.

Cyber sabotage

This type of attack involves a malicious insider using his privileged access privileges and granted access on personal devices to take down critical systems or destroy valuable data without getting caught.

It can also refer to someone who intentionally creates security vulnerabilities in software products or security tools that hinder threat detection and insider threat indicators from identifying insider threats. These malicious insider threats can lead to data theft and data breaches as well as leaking trade secrets.

Cybersecurity tools can be used to prevent insider threats and insider attacks. They should be implemented by the security team as part of the security strategy to detect threats and prevent data theft.

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Insider threat detection

In order to prevent insider attacks, organizations need to understand what makes them happen and how to spot a potential malicious insider threat before it happens. Here are three insider threat detection techniques that companies can use to protect their most sensitive data:

1. Monitor users' behavior.

Insiders often exhibit abnormal behavior that makes them stand out