Ten Ways to Handle Insider Threats

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Brent Huston

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As the economic crisis continues, the possibility of an insider threat occurring within a company increases.

Close to 50% of all companies have been hit by insider attacks, according to a recent study by Carnegie Mellon’s CERT Insider Threat Center. (Click here to access the page that has the PDF download, “Insider Threat Study.”)

It doesn’t help when companies are restructuring and handing out pink slips. The result of leaner departments means that often there are less employees to notice when someone is doing something wrong.

Tough economic times may also make it tempting for an employee to switch his ‘white hat’ to a black one for financial gain. Insider threats include employees, contractors, auditors, and anyone who has authorized access to an organization’s computers.

How can you minimize the risk? Here are a few tips:

1. Monitor and enforce security policies. Update the controls and oversee implementation.

2. Initiate employee awareness programs. Educate the staff about security awareness and the possibility of them being coerced into malicious activities.

3. Start paying attention to new hires. Keep an eye out for repeated violations that may be laying the groundwork for more serious criminal activity.

4. Work with human resources to monitor negative employee issues. Most insider IT sabotage attacks occur following a termination.

5. Carefully distribute resources. Only give employees what they need to do their jobs.

6. If your organization develops software, monitor the process. Pay attention to the service providers and vendors.

7. Approach privileged users with extra care. Use the two-man rule for critical projects. Those who know technology are more likely to use technological means for revenge if they perceive they’ve been wronged.

8. Monitor employees’ online activity, especially around the time an employee is terminated. There is a good chance the employee isn’t satisfied and may be tempted to engage in an attack.

9. Go deep in your defense plan to counter remote attacks. If employees know they are being monitored, there is a good possibility an unhappy worker will use remote control to gain access.

10. Deactivate computer access once the employee is terminated. This will immediately end any malicious activity such as copying files or sabotaging the network.

Be vigilant with your security backup plan. There is no approach that will guarantee a complete defense against insider attacks, but if you continue to practice secure backup, you can decrease the damage. Stay safe!

Cross-posted from State of Security

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mathias aebischer Don't forget to immediately change all impersonal passwords the employee had access to as well!
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