Your company faces a number of threats to your cyber security. These threats come in many different forms, but when someone talks about a breach in their security, they are almost always taking about hackers. These hackers are usually given all of the blame for the attack, but the truth is that they usually had some kind of help from the inside. That’s not to say that someone in your company is actively working with hackers. That’s very rarely the case. But many employees do make small mistakes in cyber security matters that leave the door open for hackers. They do, or don’t do, something that creates a vulnerability that hackers are able to exploit to get into your system.
While few businesses make it known that hackers to advantage of something one of their employees did, all companies that get hacked do look at what happened to determine if something an employee did or failed to do gave the hackers a door into their network. More often than not, they do find something. Some of these attacks were even done maliciously by insiders. Here are some things to think about when looking at your cyber security policies and vulnerabilities.
Why Insider Threats Are the Most Dangerous
The problem with threats that come from within your own company is that they appear trustworthy. Your security system is likely to ignore these threats because they are coming from legitimate employee accounts that have access to your system. Even if the account is doing something that would look odd to a human, your automated security systems and network security tools may not flag it as something unusual.
First, remember that mistakes are going to happen. It doesn’t matter how strong your security is or what your policies are, someone will make a small error somewhere that will open the door to hackers. It’s not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when.” A laptop with saved passwords will get stolen, a person will accidentally click a link in a spam email, or someone will send the wrong file to someone else. Even your trained IT professionals can make a small mistake, and since they usually have access to everything, that mistake can be costly.
Since mistakes are inevitable, you need to have a good contingency plan to deal with a hack. This crisis document should include as many different scenarios as possible and ways in which the company can respond to them.
Malicious Employees Exist
Unfortunately, while accidents occur, sometimes people do get upset and decide to do horrible things. Maybe an employee was passed up for promotion several times. Maybe someone took offense to something you said. Perhaps some industrial espionage is going on. No matter what the reason, sometimes an employee does decide to intentionally leak information or sabotage your security. They may do it for money, or they might do it just to get revenge for some perceived slight. No matter what the reason, it’s a risk.
While this happens, you can’t assume that every employee is going to betray you. You do have to have faith in your people. Otherwise, your business is likely to collapse. What you can do, though, is make sure that employees only have access to the data and systems that they need or at the beginning hiring time you should check background of the employees. There are many tools available online where one can perform easy background checks of employees to avoid various emerging threats in the organizations.
Watch Out for Hijacked Identities
It’s also possible for hackers to steal an employee’s company identity and use it to gain access to a system. If someone from IT emails an employee asking for password information, that employee is likely to hand it over. They might not even look at the email address they’re sending this information to in order to verify that it’s legitimate. Once someone’s identity has been stolen, employees may accidentally give the hacker everything they need. Teach your employees to always verify any suspicious email.
Protecting Your Business
So what can you do to protect your company from insider attacks? There are actually a number of different things you can implement that will help reduce these threats.
Remember the Basics
While you may be tempted to go for the flashiest, newest security tools, remember that you should never forget the basics. There are some great classic threat intelligence tools that are still very useful today. However, you do have to always remember to apply any patches and upgrades that are released. If you don’t, hackers may be able to take advantage of some of the vulnerabilities found in the software. Once fully updated, these tools will protect your organization from various emerging threats.
Also make sure that your employees know basic cyber security principles. They should use strong passwords. They should never log in over public wifi. They need to be aware of what threats are out there and know how to deal with them.
Analyze Your System
Using deep analytics can help you determine when an employee’s account is acting suspiciously. People fall into habits—they do the same things over and over, even when they don’t realize it. Using analytics can help your automated security systems realize when something is amiss. Some of this is obvious, such as an employee logging in during the night. Some actions, though, may not seem that odd unless you’ve analyzed your company’s computer usage and mapped out user habits.
Know Your Data
Do you know what data is your most valuable? That’s the data hackers want, so you want to make sure you have it locked behind the strongest firewalls and security procedures. Doing an audit and understanding what you have that’s valuable is an important first step to protecting your data from threats both external and internal.
Know Your Employees
Likewise, it’s important to know your employees. Know what kind of security risk they represent and what assets they can access. This is actually much more important when it comes to high level executives and IT administrators, not assistants and lower ranking employees. Those who are higher up in the company often have much more access to data. That means the present a much higher risk.