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Three Ways to Reduce Insider Threat Risks During COVID-19

Image of Shahad Alfarraj
Shahad Alfarraj

According to the Risk Management Monitor, it has been months since the pandemic, companies are emerging from the global crisis and are facing the challenge of ensuring that their employees can work securely from home. They now understand that remote working is going to be extended or even becomes an integral part of employee life. As they have adjusted to this new reality, they need to determine if they have the best security safeguards in place.  

The long term remote working means a commitment to avoiding data loss attributable to disabled, negligent, or malicious insiders. According to the Ponemon Institute, the total annual global expense of insider attacks soared by 31 per cent over two years to $11.45 million, and the rate of accidents grew by 47 per cent over the same span. Security teams are in a relentless battle to prevent cybercriminals from hacking employees' badges, stopping malicious acts by employees, and fixing accidental user behaviour—all of which will result in unavoidable data loss.  

  Three ways to reduce insider threat risk are:   

  1. Conduct a Comprehensive Insider Threat Risk Assessment  

  Each company has a unique set of insider threats. Risk managers should complete a comprehensive risk assessment to determine the most critical data, and systems employees can access. They should then review existing security measures used or needed to secure the organisation. Every time the latest information is produced and stored the risk of data loss changes, and the proactive manager should reassess it. The most valuable resource of an organisation  (its people, including employees, vendors, and partners) will also become the most vulnerable without adequate data protection in place.  

There is also a need to focus on defining primary threats and vulnerabilities to fix after evaluating the business environment. Practical elements include creating a dedicated insider danger feature to protect confidential data and engaging consumers with real-time compliance reminders. It is also essential to work with the HR (Human Resources) team to train and inspire personnel on safe data handling, compliance awareness, and the need for vigilance. These actions help to counter and mitigate insider threats while creating a clear, repeatable strategy.  

  1. Place People at the Centre 

organisation must position people at the forefront of their overall cybersecurity strategy. Employees working remotely may be exposed to a broader range of threats and are likely to be operating outside the comprehensive data protection and security measures that an office environment provides. Proofpoint states that more than 99 per cent of cyber threats involve human contact. Chances of a successful attack can increase when workers are outside the controlled office environment. A human-centred security approach is strongly recommended to mitigate the risks to data when using email, cloud, social media, and the internet.   

Second, restrict the amount of time that individual users can access the details they need to accomplish a task. Not everybody, for example, requires access to consumer information. Ensure that protection technology can distinguish between criminal acts, unintended actions, and cyber-crime threats using compromised employee accounts. This intelligence helps organizations respond to the incident and enables the right steps to be taken.  

Finally, the identification and avoidance of insider attacks is a team effort. It is essential to ensure that the appropriate stakeholders and departments buy-in and implement the security program.  

  1. Insider Threat Technology at Work 

Organisation need to take a systemic approach against internal threats, particularly during a pandemic. When evaluating insider threat technologies, first consider the performance of any solution and its related scalability, ease of management, implementation, stability, and versatility. Select a solution that offers insight into user actions while complementing the other controls your company has in place.  

The dedicated insider threat approach reduces challenges by helping companies recognize customer risks, avoid data loss, and improve incident response. The method also separates malicious behaviour from merely reckless or negligent conduct. A robust data defence policy will help to mitigate negligent conduct before it becomes a significant security issue.  

A successful mix of individual action, controls and supporting technology will help to remediate one of the most critical risk factors affecting organisation worldwide.  

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