Insider Threats: What They Are & How You Can Keep Your Data Safe

data protection, malware threat

An insider threat is a security breach implemented by individuals who have gained legitimate access to a company’s systems, networks, and data. These threats can come in the form of disgruntled employees, negligent contractors, and third-party vendors. It’s important to note that not all breaches are intentional.

Given how complex cloud security is, even something as simple as not running a security check at a regular interval can cause major disruptions in the form of breaches and intellectual property theft. This negligence can be prevented via employee screening and training, access controls and monitoring, incident response planning, and data encryption.

Importance of cybersecurity in the face of insider threats

Insider threats are everywhere. Cybersecurity is critical to prevent security incidents that include data breaches. A breach of this nature can lead to a loss of customer data, financial information, and intellectual property. Given how fast information travels, even a minor incident can ruin an organization’s reputation.

The finance and healthcare industries have to be concerned with being out of compliance, resulting in fines and penalties. Strong security measures include access controls, suspicious activity monitoring, regular security audits, vulnerability assessments and training. A focus on cybersecurity safeguards info systems, networks and data.

Types of insider threats

There are three main types of insider threats: accidental, negligent, and malicious.

  • Accidental insider threats: When an insider has access to sensitive information they may make a mistake by sending or storing protected data in an unsecured location.
  • Negligent insider threats: Sometimes a worker is rushing to get tasks done or to leave for the day. A security protocol may not be properly followed. Reusing passwords, forgetting to lock their devices or unwittingly sharing confidential info are top culprits.
  • Malicious insider threats: A team member may have an agenda when accepting a cloud security position. They can use their authorized access to information systems to steal or damage data.

Organizations must take note of the various insider threats and introduce measures to counter them. This involves employee background checks and training, setting up access controls and surveillance, preparing incident response plans, and using data encryption.

Impacts of insider threats can range from data breaches, financial losses, reputational damage, legal and regulatory consequences and loss of intellectual property. Here’s how to keep your data safe:

  1. Employee screening and training — Prevention is your best weapon against insider threats. Screening candidates requires a detailed process of background checks and security clearances. After hiring the best, training becomes a top priority. Regular training and awareness programs educate employees on the importance of secure information handling. Knowledge reduces the likelihood of accidental or negligent insider threats.
  2. Access controls and monitoring — Not everyone should have access to sensitive data. Access control and monitoring let the company know who taps into data and what they do with it. Passwords have to be strong, two-factor authentication must be used and user activity requires 24/7 monitoring. Data loss prevention detects vulnerabilities and protects against leaks.
  3. Incident response planning — Mitigating insider threats requires a plan. Strategize how to respond to security incidents, including identifying threats, reporting incidents, responding to incidents, and recovery. Security information and event management (SIEM) systems can be implemented to detect and respond to insider threats as they happen.
  4. Data encryption — Encrypting sensitive data with full-disk encryption, file and folder encryption, and database encryption help prevent insider threats. The process makes it difficult for unauthorized individuals to access and use sensitive information. Organizations can count on encryption when data is stolen or leaked. Cybercriminals cannot readily access encrypted sensitive information.

A strong cybersecurity stance can block insider threats when implemented consistently. To mitigate the risks posed by insider threats, organizations must improve their cybersecurity measures by regularly reviewing and updating security policies and procedures, investing in employee training, and staying current on security threats and trends. This will help reduce the risk of insider threats and protect sensitive information and systems.

Staying ahead of advancements and changes in the dynamic field of cybersecurity is crucial. ThriveDX offers hands-on cybersecurity training designed to help you to defeat tomorrow’s cyber challenges. Whether you’re thinking about making a career change to the cybersecurity industry or want to upskill and reskill your cyber workforce, visit


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