Lauren Seip, June 2023

Insider Threats: How to Safeguard Your Company’s Data the Right Way  

A disgruntled healthcare employee steals confidential client data. A negligent intern clicks on a phishing link within an email. A third-party partner doesn’t have the proper security measures in place to protect sensitive information.  

Insider threats, whether malicious or not, vary in nature and occur within every industry – healthcare organizations and government entities at the top of that list.  

According to the 2022 Cost of Insider Threats: Global Report by Ponemon Institute, insider threat incidents have risen 44% over the past two years, with costs per incident up more than a third to $15.38 million.  

Even worse? The time it takes to contain an insider threat has increased from 77 days to 85 days.  

But you can’t treat all insider threats the same. Although some insiders are purposely trying to steal data and use it against an organization, a huge part of data breaches are unintentionally committed by negligent employees.  

The 5 Types of Insider Threats

Take a guess – what is one of the greatest threats to your organization? If you’re sitting in your office, look to your left and right. That’s correct, your coworkers could be the cause of a data breach, whether it’s an accident or vindictive.  

Here are the main types of insider threats that you should be aware of:  

  1. Malicious insiders: Unhappy employees who feel as though they have been “wronged” by the company they work for and want to disrupt operations and cause considerable damage. For instance, a disgruntled sales representative tampers with customer data.  
  1. Careless employees: Even though they don’t mean harm, these employees are unaware of how their actions could jeopardize a company’s security. For instance, an intern accidentally clicks on a link in a phishing email and downloads a virus onto their work laptop.  
  1. Ex-employees: When an employee leaves a company involuntarily, they may feel inclined to steal valuable data. For instance, a terminated software engineer steals valuable code to take over to their next employer.  
  1. Policy evaders: An aloof employee who likes to take shortcuts regarding mandatory security protocols. For instance, anyone who ignores the required cybersecurity training and, as a result, doesn’t understand the company’s best practices for protecting data.  
  1. Third-party partners: It’s common for companies to hire third parties to help with certain services, such as branding or consulting. Unfortunately, working with these outside vendors could come with a set of issues like not having sophisticated cybersecurity to safeguard sensitive information.  

5 Clear Indicators of an Insider Threat

Indicators of an inside cybersecurity threat can vary depending on the specific circumstances and context of the situation. However, the following common indicators may suggest the presence of an inside cybersecurity threat: 

  1. Unauthorized Access: Unusual or unauthorized access to sensitive systems, files, or data by an employee or contractor can be a strong indicator of an inside threat. This may involve accessing systems or data that are outside the employee’s normal responsibilities or accessing them at unusual times. 
  1. Excessive Privileges: Employees or contractors who possess unnecessary or elevated privileges, granting them access to sensitive information or critical systems beyond what their job role requires, can pose a potential threat. This could indicate the ability to abuse those privileges for malicious purposes. 
  1. Unexplained Data Loss or Leakage: Sudden or unexplained loss or leakage of sensitive data, especially if it appears to be intentional, could be a sign of an inside threat. This may involve the unauthorized copying, transferring, or deletion of data by an employee or contractor. 
  1. Behavioral Changes: Noticeable behavioral changes in an employee’s work patterns or attitude may indicate a potential insider threat. This could include increased disgruntlement, unexplained financial problems, sudden lifestyle changes, or a disregard for security policies and procedures 
  1. Unauthorized Hardware or Software Installations: Employees or contractors installing unauthorized software or hardware on company systems without proper authorization could be introducing vulnerabilities or backdoors intentionally. This may include the installation of keyloggers, remote access tools, or other malicious software. 

It’s important to note that while these indicators can be helpful in identifying potential inside threats, they do not guarantee malicious intent. Suspicious activities should be thoroughly investigated by qualified cybersecurity professionals to determine the nature and intent behind them. 

Why Choose CryptoSpike to Protect Against Insider Threats?

Imagine having software that can detect and block suspicious users right away, so you can avoid the extensive damage caused by insider threats. CryptoSpike is a data protection software that continuously monitors all file access transactions across your data center’s storage, using behavioral analysis to automatically block all types of ransomware attacks.

Benefits of CryptoSpike include:  

  • Monitoring suspicious activities, like mass deletions and edits to files, in real time.  
  • Blocking suspicious users from accessing your storage and causing additional damage to the environment 
  • Automatically notify the IT team of a threat with a link to a full audit trail of user activity. 

By increasing cybersecurity protocols to address insider threats, businesses can better protect their sensitive data, maintain their reputation, comply with regulations, and actively manage risks. Ultimately, these measures contribute to a more secure and resilient business environment.  

For more information about ProLion’s CryptoSpike, reach out to a team member at [email protected].  

About ProLion

ProLion offers powerful data protection solutions that safeguard critical storage and backup data, on-premises or in the cloud. From ransomware protection that detects threats in real time to data transparency, our industry-leading solutions ensure your storage system remains secure, compliant, manageable, and accessible around the clock.