Business man holds security lock.

4 Ways to Avoid Internal Security Threats

From malware and viruses to data breaches and denial of service attacks, it’s all too easy for companies to focus on external cybersecurity threats. Although they’re frequently overlooked, however, insider security threats are even more dangerous.

Nearly 75 percent of security breach incidents are due to insider threats, whether due to mistakes or malicious intent. What’s more, a majority of organizations agree that remediating the effects of an internal security breach could cost them $500,000 or more.

Because employees’ activities are so easy to slip under the radar, insider threats can go undetected for months or years. However, you’re by no means defenseless. In this article, we’ll go over the top 4 ways for you to prevent internal security threats at your organization.

1. Have a Strong Security Policy

Many internal security breaches occur due to employees’ misunderstanding of how they should be using enterprise IT resources. To prevent this from happening at your company, establish a clear, binding security policy and make sure that everyone knows and adheres to it.

Go over your existing security policy (if you have one) and add content that specifically addresses insider threats. Make sure that sensitive and personal data is only disseminated to people with a genuine business need for it and that this access is revoked when no longer necessary. Train your staff on the best practices for preventing attacks, and keep them up-to-date on the latest cybersecurity developments.

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2. Do Background Checks

While they’re not an uncommon business practice, background checks should be absolutely essential for new hires who will have access to sensitive information. If you don’t have the funds to do a full investigation, even a cursory Google search can verify important details about employees’ education and employment history.

Because background checks can turn up new information and find new records all the time, it’s important that you screen employees at regular intervals. Your hiring contracts should include an “evergreen” clause that authorizes you to perform screening now and in the future.

3. Scan for Anomalies

Modern organizations generate reams of data about the activities of users within their IT environment: Unix and Windows logs, firewall data, intrusion detection system (IDS) logs, security reports, and more. With so much valuable information at your fingertips, it would be foolish to treat this data as little more than background noise.

Instead, you can use management and monitoring tools to keep a closer eye on what’s going on within your network. Insider threats typically lack the technical sophistication of external attacks, so they’re usually easier to detect. Common patterns to look out for include visiting suspicious websites and moving large amounts of data onto an external device.

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4. Identify “Problem” Users

While it’s true that any one of your employees could be an insider threat, there are certain types of users that pose a bigger risk. You should pay special attention to:

  • Employees who have recently been fired or received disciplinary action. They may feel that they need to retaliate by leaking your data or trade secrets to the world.
  • Privileged users who have access to more information than the average employee.
  • Third-party contractors and vendors who need to be granted access to your system. Make sure that these entities follow the same security policies as your internal users. For example, the devastating Home Depot data breach occurred after hackers gained entry to their systems using the credentials of a third-party vendor.

Internal security threats are just the beginning. If you want to keep learning, check out how to better keep your business secure online.