Insider Attacks | What Are Insider Attacks and How to Prevent Them

Many business owners are not expecting insider attacks, as they believe most cyber threats stem from hackers or cyber criminals trying to access sensitive data from outside the business. Instead, however, a growing number of threats is coming from within your business causing major breaches and being a danger to the cybersecurity of your organisation. 

Insider Attacks

What is Insider Attack? 

An insider attack can be described as a member of your business using their access to your network with the intent to cause harm to your company. These events can include sabotage, theft, espionage, fraud as well as a competitive advantage which are often carried out by the employee abusing their access rights, stealing materials, as well as mishandling physical devices. While employees tend to be the most common cause of insider threats, anyone who has access to your company’s sensitive data poses a security risk to your business. 

Due to the pandemic, we rely more and more on technology and digital solutions in order to access company-internal data. This might be the reason why in the last two years; the frequency of insider attacks has increased by 47%. We can, therefore, expect the number of insider threats to continue to increase.  

What Is the Difference Between Internal and External Attacks? 

Internal Attacks stem from someone within your business who already had access to your internal data, while External Attacks are carried out when someone outside of your business tries to gain access to your data. The key difference between the two is the perpetrator who is carrying out the attack. 

What Are the Different Types of Insider Attacks? 

Below we are discussing the different ways an Insider Attack can take place. 

1. Pawn 

Within a “Pawn Insider Threat” the person involved does not know they are being targeted or are the cause of the problem. In most cases, an employee will become the victim of an insider attack. Those employees are often targeted by a phishing scam or social engineering. For this to take place, the external threat will gain access to “pawns’ credentials” making your employee a compromised insider without them knowing. 

2. Goof 

A “Goof Insider Threat” takes place when employees fail to follow the security measures, increasing the overall cybersecurity threats. By not following company guidelines, the staff might be trying to make it easier for themselves, but it ultimately leads them to be negligent insiders. Examples could consist of storing company login information in the cloud, as it would be easier to access but less secure. 

Even though the employees themselves are not causing any problems with malicious intent, they might make a decision that leaves your business exposed to outside threats. 

3. Collaborator 

While the first two examples stem from negligence or lack of awareness, the “Collaborator Insider Threat” stems from employees intentionally looking to cause damage. This can leave your data exposed to outside sources and is a common form of attack within corporate espionage.  

4. Lone Wolf 

The “Lone Wolf Insider Threat” can stem from an angry employee, contractor, or someone with privileged access to sensitive company data looking to actively harm the business. 

How Do I Protect My Business from Insider Attacks? 

Protecting your business from attacks is about pre-empting, identifying as well as stopping potential Insider Attacks. As Insider Attacks can be hard to spot, we have put together a list of tips that help prevent them. 

1. Implement Employee Monitoring 

Employee monitoring software can be used to protect your business and data by keeping an eye on your employee’s behaviour and notifying the employer about suspicious behaviour. The employer can, for example, set rules for how data is handled and set up triggers that go off if and when suspicious activity of a potential insider threat is detected. 

2. Safety First Cybersecurity Policy 

In many cases, data was compromised by someone within the organisation that the employer trusted, regardless of whether it was a high-ranking IT manager or someone else within the business. Due to that, employees should only be allowed to access data that they require for their job, which is an important part of GDPR compliance. 

3. Cybersecurity Training 

A big part of the issue surrounding insider threats is that often, these threats occur by accident. By educating and training your employees about the importance of data security, one is able to create an additional barrier of protection against internal attacks. 

If you are interested in finding out more about ways to cybersecurity or you are looking to take on an IT provider, contact us here. We currently offer a free IT consultation, so don’t forget to fill out our IT Workplace Assessment, so we can come back to you with our recommendations. 

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