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Insider Threats: Prevention, Protection are Vital to Network Security

2 min read

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James Norris

Malicious insiders can wreak havoc on your business

In every horror flick, it seems there comes a time when the star of the movie seeks refuge indoors, only to find the enemy is already inside the house. You might be wondering what this has to do with your business network security. Well, it turns out the plot of your business's trajectory might include some insider threats as well. And as with all challenges your business faces, it's best to face this one head-on.

Insider threats are often overlooked

Malicious insiders and other insider threats are often overlooked in the cybersecurity landscape, in favor of putting resources toward protecting the network from external cyber threats. But that has subjected many businesses to a plot twist they never saw coming: an attack on their network from within the organization. And the risk is real. Insiders frequently have access to your network and your facilities that outsiders have to work hard to gain—often making it easier for an insider to penetrate your network security protocols.

How can you watch for insider threats? And what should you look for to thwart a security risk? Let's explore.

Threat indicators to watch 

Diligence is essential to identifying insider threats, but they can be difficult to spot. However, there are some red flags for potential malicious insiders and other insider threats. Here are the indicators you should watch.

  • Disgruntled employees
    Unhappy employees may have a bone to pick with your organization. Consider keeping an extra eye on staff who are known to have conflicts with coworkers and leadership, or who are failing to meet expectations by showing up late, not showing up when needed, or who are applying for other jobs while on the clock.
  • Terminated employees
    Staff who have been let go, no matter the reason, may feel they have nothing to lose and could use their network and facilities access for spiteful purposes. For most organizations, it's safest to let staff go with severance pay and terminate their employment (and network access) immediately, versus allowing them to work for a few more days or weeks before their end date.
  • Staff with financial changes
    Malicious insiders can be savvy when it comes to crypto mining, theft from the organization, and even industrial espionage. Are you noticing a staff member who has made some major purchases outside of what their salary might indicate is affordable? It might be time to look into it further.
  • A head in the clouds
    Cloud networks can be vulnerable to insider attacks, particularly if your organization has generous permissions standards and more people have privileges than need to. In addition, your cloud should be regularly monitored for potential insider threat activity, and you should be familiar with and use the security controls provided.

Also, keep in mind, not all insider threats are malicious in intent. Employees who are insufficiently trained on network security and who are not regularly reminded of security protocols can put your organization at risk. Often, all it takes is for one staff person to inadvertently leave privileged information behind at the coffee shop, or click on a malicious hyperlink without realizing the risks. Accidents can happen, but properly training your staff on network security regularly can substantially reduce the risk to your company, organization,
or school.

A reputable Managed Service Provider: Key to outsmarting insider threats

Outsmarting insider threats is a challenge every organization faces these days, but partnering with the right Managed Service Provider can make all the difference. Your network security doesn't have to play out like a horror film. Identifying threats inside the proverbial house is key to ensuring your business is protected from malicious insiders and other insider threats.

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