All malicious cyber attackers have motives to carry out breaches. Additionally, malicious insiders enjoy the ideal means and opportunity along with motives, placing them in a much better position to carry out potentially hazardous data breaches. Insider threat is hence your worst enemy, as they are among the costliest and the hardest to detect of all breaches.
What is an insider threat?
Insider threats are defined as cybersecurity threats that come from within a company, from an employee, vendor, contractors, business associates, or ex-employees. Anyone that has valid access to your company’s network can give rise to an insider threat.
What are the types of insider threats?
There are three generic types of insider threats:
Compromised Insider threats
Compromised insider threats are the most critical types of insider threats that you will face. It can happen if an employee grants access to an attacker unintentionally by clicking on a phishing link or on click baits.
Negligent Insider threats
Careless insider threats are caused by insiders who disregard or are unaware of the ways how insider threats can occur. Leaving a terminal unattended, using the same password everywhere, or granting database permissions to regular users can give rise to careless insider threats.
Malicious Insider threats
Malicious insiders intentionally pose security hazards to organizations by willfully extracting data or Intellectual Property. Since malicious insiders are involved in the attack themselves, they can cover up their tracks with ease, making these kinds of attacks the most difficult to detect.
Why is insider threat your worst enemy?
It has always been hard to separate incidents caused by insiders from those caused by external factors. Take for instance the following facts into consideration:
- According to a study, over 70% of insider attacks are not reported externally.
- According to the Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, 34% of all breaches of 2018 were caused by insiders.
- 94% of organizations experience one insider threat per month.
- As of 2018, the average cost of an insider attack was about $513,000.
- The average price of a malicious insider attack keeps rising, and it rose by 15% from 2018 to 2019.
The above figures paint a clear picture of why insider attacks should be dealt with at the core, instead of dealing with the consequences of a breach later. It is hence mandatory to invest in a solution like Gamma, to minimize such instances and instantly catch the culprits.
What are the 9 ways to defeat insider attacks?
1. Protect your important assets
Knowing your essential assets and protecting them is critical to insider threat prevention. Insiders of your organization usually know your weakest links, making it easy for them to carry out coordinated attacks.
Carry out an independent assessment of all your assets to find your most valuable information asset and the risk tolerance associated with it. With this, you can gain insights into the critical assets in your infrastructure and the users that are most likely to be targeted by attackers.
Gamma uses real-time AI to monitor your application for threat detection continuously. Using this analysis, you can easily detect the weakest links in your most valuable assets and work on them.
2. Develop and implement a formal security policy
To prevent insider threats, you need to develop a formal security policy if you don’t have one. Once you know the assets that are important for your organization, you must develop ways to protect them. Your security policy should protect both your system, as well as your physical assets.
When organizations develop a policy, it generally revolves around preventing outsiders from accessing the system. However, your security policy should also focus on the “bad guys” who are authorized to use your IT systems. To ensure system security:
- Include procedures in your policy that can prevent and detect misuse.
- Include guidelines for insider misuse investigations.
- Ensure that you deploy multi-factor authentication across all your systems.
- Make sure that your employee policy spells out the potential consequences of misusing the company's private information.
Your security policy should also encompass aspects related to physical organizational security. One of the best ways to prevent insider attacks is to isolate your critical infrastructure physically. To ensure physical security:
- Give your employees a safe space to store their sensitive information.
- Physically isolate your high-value systems that require secure, verified access from other low-value systems.
3. Monitor your application continuously
Another way to defeat insider threat is to deploy a solution that continuously monitors your application using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. This ensures that you are updated with the latest breach attempts on your system, and you can continuously think of ways to defeat these attempts.
A monitoring solution like Gamma automatically discovers and classifies threats in real-time. You can use its reporting mode to monitor the threats in SaaS applications continuously.
4. Screen new hires
While some organizations might consider background checks to be too consuming or expensive, it might save you the hassle and thousands of dollars that you lose after a data breach. Insider breaches are carried out by insiders, in most cases, malicious ones. Hence, screening new insiders is one of the important ways to keep future attacks at bay.
5. Log, audit, and monitor employee actions
Companies are generally too busy looking at outsider threats. However, your focus should also shift to your employees, who can intentionally or unintentionally give rise to insider threats that can significantly hamper your organization. The best way to monitor employees is through improved behavior monitoring and analytics by embedding tools like Gamma into your system.
There is a high chance that organizations that fell victim to high profile attacks could have prevented them by using these kinds of behavioral analytic solutions. You can never be too safe with your company’s private information. You should hence log, audit, and monitor employee actions using a predictive, people-centric solution like Gamma.
While monitoring employees directly might sound intrusive, it is one of the best ways to prevent insider attacks and save your company thousands of dollars. Gamma offers a forensic dashboard to provide visibility for the IT admin. It continuously monitors employee actions in real-time and notifies when an employee makes a security mistake. There are two dashboards:
- The user dashboard enables social influence and improves security behavior.
- The admin dashboard helps monitor, approve, or block events and do a digital forensic analysis.
6. Threat scoring
With a mixture of behavioral analytics, threat intelligence, anomaly detection, and predictive alerts offered by a solution like Gamma, you can create threat scores, and act on the incident with the highest score first.
Create the highest threat scores for activities that stray too far from normal patterns. Couple the threat scores with the user’s credentials to alert the security system of a data breach in its very inception. Threat scoring is now proving to be one of the emerging and successful methods to defeat insider threat.
7. Train employees periodically
Train employees periodically, not just to make them aware of potential insider breaches, but also to make them aware of the consequences of being a part of one. Employee training cannot prevent malicious insider threats but it can certainly prevent compromised and careless insider breaches.
Employee training materials can include PowerPoint presentations, surveys, or training solutions like Gamma. Gamma offers simple configurations to enable infotypes. Its custom configurable warnings and notifications engage employees and improve security awareness. Using Gamma, you can easily train employees as they work, without having to spend significant amounts of time in creating and deploying training materials.
8. Enforce separate duties and least privilege
One of the other ways to reduce risks associated with insider theft is to restrict access to sensitive data by separating duties and enforcing least privilege. This essentially means giving people access only to the assets they need to do their job and nothing more. In the Target breach, an external contractor was unnecessarily given access to its point-of-sale system, thus causing the company the loss of $202 million.
To enforce separate duties and least privilege:
- Separate the network layers used by users of different privileges.
- Ensure that service level agreements (SLAs) separate the employee data from corporate data.
- Only provide the highest level of access to the highest privileged user, and even then ensure that their activities are monitored periodically.
9. Set up predictive, people-centric security solutions
Your employees are surely your organization's weakest link. However, they do not need to be phased out from the process of preventing insider breaches. Some employees wish good for the organization, and some employees don't. Your good people are the best alerting mechanisms of your organization. An awareness training solution that follows a predictive, people-centric mechanism to aware and engage employees is thus essential to prevent insider attacks.
Traditional preventive controls have negative impacts on employees. Imposing training, and treating employees like problems can make your employees wary making them more susceptible to carry out attacks. Hence, you should be careful to link security awareness with employee monitoring and build transparency and trust in the process.
Gamma is your solution to this way to defeat insider attacks. Gamma proactively coaches your employees against malicious, insider, or negligent security threats. Gamma seamlessly integrates with your existing SaaS applications and uses real-time AI to monitor SaaS applications for threat detection, making it possible to detect insider breaches soon.
Gamma also provides configurable infotypes, warnings, and notifications to train and engage users. Its forensic dashboard provides visibility for the IT admin, making it possible to prevent insider attacks.