What is insider threat?

The term ‘insider threat’ is a branch in cyber security that looks at human behaviour. Whilst cyber security protects general networks and companies from data breaches, which are often external, insider threats look at internal employees of companies and how they threaten sensitive data.

Employees pose much more of a risk of compromising cyber security as they are on the inside. Employees often have the knowledge to get away with their actions and in turn their acts become very hard to detect.

Two questions may be posed:

Firstly, why would an employee want to threaten the business they work for?

Secondly, is there a way to detect such actions through insider threat detection tools?

To answer the first question, there is not one size that fits all. Motives can be anything from being unhappy in the job due to disgruntlement, for financial gain or even espionage. Given this, my platform being developed works on detecting these characteristics. Detecting negative characteristics answers the second question by ensuring companies can take action before the risk is imposed.

This YouTube briefly further explains what is meant by insider threat. https://youtu.be/QXnNkSeT6dM?si=HTrpcqMvtx7SVSji

How to mitigate insider threat with insider threat detection tools.

Insider threat is often overlooked and there is more focus on preventing external threat such as hacking. It is therefore important that more companies recognise insider threat and implement measures to prevent it through insider risk mitigation and insider threat detection tools. As mentioned, an effective way of preventing insider threat is by testing employees and identifying whether they possess the characteristics, as well as understanding organisational and environmental triggers, which are associated with increasing insider threat. There is also so much more than can be done to mitigate insider risk: a few ways to prevent it is listed below:

  1. Insider threat detection tools and software – ANIMA psychometrics (uses the platform PsycSec), more information can be found on the solutions tab: https://animapeople.com/get-started/psycsec/
  2. Frequent training and education of employees with clear security protocols and expectations.
  3. Establishing expectations and providing consequences disincentivises employees to becoming an insider threat
  4. Monitoring user activity – can be achieved though measures like keeping detailed logs of user actions to detect any suspicious activities
  5. Ensuring that not too much knowledge and control is given to a singular person and ensure decentralisation
  6. Minimising the power and knowledge given to a specific person ensures that an employee is less capable of committing insider threat.
  7. Cybersecurity behaviour– usually small acts that make all the difference.
  8. An example of cybersecurity behaviour can be ensuring use of strong passwords, using multi-factor authorisation, regularly updating software data encryption and backing up data.
  9. Prevent disgruntlement through a trusting and supportive workplace included in the organisational culture
  10. Organisational culture refers to the culture in the workplace which is ingrained over a long period of time. It revolves around how employees perceive the workplace and as a result how they make decisions and collaborate when approaching problems. This is created through mission statements, social policy, the organisational climate and the way that employers interact with employees. It is beneficial to create a strong organisational culture where there is a sense of belonging, to help mitigate insider threat.

How can cybersecurity psychometrics be useful to you?

 Insider risk mitigation and insider threat detection tools, such as PsycSec, are not simply about identifying the bad apples, but more about nurturing and facilitating a position security culture and providing organisations with the data they need to make informed decisions about individuals and groups, at departmental or international level.

The use of cybersecurity psychometrics facilitates the advantages below:

  • Identify security values from the recruitment and selection stage, without the need for security background clearance interviews
  • Identify cyber champions, ambassadors and security torch bearers, objectively
  • Understanding your level of cybersecurity engagement to better target vulnerable groups who may need more appropriate training
  • Comprehensive risk identification before it becomes risky behaviour
  • Proactive risk mitigation using a database of measures enabling you to target interventions to the right people at the right time
  • Metrics that provide real evidence of the effectiveness of your awareness initiatives and campaigns, beyond phishing simulations
  • Improved incident response and recovery as you will retrospectively be able to looks for human factors vulnerabilities and mitigate against future attacks
  • Improved security posture with fewer false positives
  • Gold standard compliance and regulatory requirements – be better than your competitors
  • Enhanced organizational culture and resilience – recruiting and retaining for security values
  • Cost savings – less generic training and more insights
  • Cybersecurity awareness training matched to individual needs using AI 

Why is it important to prevent insider threat?

As an organisation insider threat is imperative to keep under check otherwise it can be very detrimental for the company. Consequences include:

  1. Financial peril– often insider threats steal from the company
  2. Detriment to other employee wellbeing in the case of leaked data
  3. Legal suits– insider threat often breaches strict privacy regulations and in turn the company may be held liable for negligence as the employer can be responsible for actions of the employee.
  4. Degraded reputation as an organisation
  5. Threat to sensitive information

In conclusion…

Human risk mitigation is talked about in the industry, with little understanding as to what tools to use to mitigate insider threat, or nurture security engagement. Using insider threat detection tools that are employee focused and recognise the promoters as well as detractors, right from the recruitment and selection stage, is the only way to mitigate insider risk. Human beings are complex, and most of us, given the right environment, want to do the right thing. By rewarding and recognising good behaviour, we can prevent counterproductive behaviour, and manage human risk in the workplace.

For more information book your 30-minute free chat today through this link https://animapeople.com/contact-us/ and Anima People can help you to implement all these factors to ensure a safe and secure workplace.

Mitigate insider risk through insider threat detection before chaos ensues and take action today.


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