Employees are your first line of defense against cyberattacks. But sadly, they are also the weakest cybersecurity link and the single biggest security risk to your business. In the 2020 Cost of Insider Threats Global Report, the 204 participating organizations reported 4,716 insider-related incidents within 12 months. The report shows that most insider threats result from employee negligence, followed by malicious intent and credential theft.
As insider threats increasingly become more costly and devastating, many organizations are beginning to worry about internal risks. In a recent Wall Street Journal survey, 67 percent of employers expressed concerns over malicious employees. The question is, how do you protect your business from your own staff?
Provide regular cybersecurity training
Most insider incidents are caused by avoidable negligence and errors, such as risky password usage, falling for phishing advances, and downloading malicious email attachments. Train your employees extensively on cybersecurity best practices and the importance of observing security protocols. Doing so will instill threat awareness, account security, and cyber hygiene throughout the organization. Make security training part of the onboarding process and routine employee tune-up programs.
Enforce strict security policies
Develop a detailed cybersecurity handbook citing all the security policies for your organization. Ensure that every employee understands the laid-out security procedures and rules they’re expected to observe. You can even turn the security policies document into an employee-company agreement to cultivate a strong cybersecurity commitment in your organization. Also, devise and outline fair penalties for breaking any of the protocols to encourage compliance and accountability. Strict security guidelines can go a long way in keeping all employees security-conscious.
Manage user accounts and privileges
Business account security is a major concern, especially when using the cloud or allowing a flexible work environment such as remote working and BYOD. Remember, compromised user accounts are the gateways to most data breaches.
Assign accounts and privileges according to the users’ security clearance, department, and responsibilities. Also, reduce the number of highly privileged admin accounts to only a few in order to maintain a hierarchical security access structure. Account management also involves purging old, orphan, and dormant accounts that rarely get used.
Monitor employees’ activities
Invest in both digital and physical surveillance systems to track employees’ activities on critical touchpoints. Cameras, motion sensors, and ID key trackers can monitor movements in highly restricted, sensitive areas such as server rooms and network control consoles. On a digital level, use tracking software to log and monitor user activity on cyber platforms such as cloud systems, corporate websites, and data hubs.
There are currently several AI-powered user behavior analytics tools that can quickly detect and report abnormal activities associated with misuse, sabotage, mischief, or theft in real time. Such solutions can root out malicious insider actors before they even strike.
Reinforce company-wide cybersecurity
Strengthen your cybersecurity posture to match the insider threat level in your company. Start by implementing strong network security measures such as end-to-end encryption, VPNs, and traffic screening, particularly when dealing with remote workers. Also, ensure every end-user device runs updated software and anti-malware applications. Install strict authentication systems such as MFA and single-login – simple, inexpensive, but effective ways to drastically boost account security.
Finally, don’t forget to maximize physical security around vital IT hardware and facilities. Remember that malicious employees may physically access the actual servers, data centers, and network infrastructure.
When building your company’s cybersecurity framework, keep in mind that most cyber incidents result from carelessness and malice from within. So, create a zero-trust, zero-tolerance security policy to mitigate insider threats. Focus your efforts on account security, physical security, company-wide threat awareness, and vigilance.