Stay vigilant to insider threat indicators
It's crucial to be on the lookout for the most common warning signs that members of your workforce could - either consciously or inadvertently - represent a security risk.
1. Changes in performance or attitude
Disgruntled or dissatisfied employees can be a real danger to you if they decide to use their security credentials to hurt the business, benefit themselves, or both.
Someone who was rejected for a promotion or raise to which they felt entitled, for example, might decide to take matters into their own hands and steal valuable data with the aim of selling it to the highest bidder.
It's also possible that unhappy members of staff looking for jobs with rival businesses could attempt to access sensitive information to pass on to a competitor.
2. Sudden enthusiasm
As well as looking for signs of unhappiness or declining performance in the workplace, you should stay vigilant to sudden increases in enthusiasm or desire to take on more responsibility, especially in people who’ve previously seemed disengaged or shown poor performance.
This could be entirely innocent and may simply be a sign of an employee wanting to make a good impression. However, a conspicuous shift in attitude could also signal that someone is attempting to access sensitive data for their own illicit purposes.
Show caution and keep a close eye on workers who engage in behaviors such as:
- Staying late with no clear explanation why
- Working at unusual times
- Showing an interest in tasks or systems that lie outside their normal responsibilities
- Suddenly doing lots of work from home
3. Unusual user activity
Another big warning sign to look out for is unusual user activity across your network, especially if this can be traced back to individuals whose behavior has already raised red flags.
Events that could be a cause for concern include system logins from unusual locations or at unexpected times of the day, and people attempting to use applications or software to which they don't have access.
Large data downloads or transfers may also warrant further investigation by the cybersecurity specialists on your IT team.
4. Frequent overseas travel
At the most extreme end of the insider threat spectrum is corporate espionage, whereby businesses engage in spying, subterfuge and other underhand tactics to gain an advantage over their rivals. This might involve recruiting employees of other companies to steal information.
If you're a global corporation with competitors around the world, it's worth staying alert to sudden changes in your employees' travel habits, especially if people start making regular repeat trips to the same location.
Again, there could be an innocent explanation for this, but you should certainly be aware of the risks posed by corporate espionage.
Protect yourself against insider threats
When it comes to shielding your company from the potential consequences of insider attacks, one of the most important goals to focus on is the establishment of a strong security culture throughout the organization.
That will mean taking steps such as:
- Offering consistent, dedicated training to help employees at all levels of seniority understand and spot the warning signs of insider threats
- Ensuring that IT specialists, managers and executives set the right example by adhering to recommended practices and prioritizing security at all times
- Recognizing and rewarding employees who help to keep the business safe by maintaining high standards
You should also be sure to take advantage of innovative tools and solutions to tackle insider threats. Automated behavior analytics software, for example, enables you to collect and examine data on user activities to quickly identify anomalies or suspicious events.
By combining training, education and awareness with the latest technologies, you can increase your protection against risks originating within your workforce and many other potential hazards.
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