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Not All Threats are External

Manager Identifying Potential Insider Threat

As much as a business relies on its technology, it relies just as much upon its employees to properly put that technology to use. Unfortunately, this can very easily expose the business to various threats that involve their employees. Understanding these insider threats is crucial for a business, especially given how current events may tempt those who would never have considered them otherwise. Not all threats are external, and your employees may not realizing they’re threatening your company’s data.

Let’s review what constitutes an insider threat, and why they are now a bigger potential problem than ever.

What is an Insider Threat?

An insider threat is precisely what the term implies: a threat to your business that is sourced from one of your in-the-know employees. It also applies to any employees whose actions inadvertently compromise your business’ data, security, and other property. So, when you are working to prevent insider threats, you need to focus on a variety of fronts. With remote work on the rise, this can become an even bigger problem since there isn’t formal supervision.

There are many reasons that these kinds of threats can arise, especially with the current issues that businesses everywhere are struggling with.

Technical Shifts

Given the fact that a pandemic has closed many workplaces, a huge amount of businesses of every size have needed to adjust drastically to sustain their operations however they can. For many, this meant rotating to a virtualized environment for remote work. Not only have many organizations suddenly been tasked with adopting an entirely new means of accomplishing their goals, many of these changes require adjustments to enable remote work at all. When all of this is considered, there is generally some trade-off between capability and security.

Emotional Distress

There is no denying that the last few months have been a challenging time for everyone. With high stress levels, many people will consider actions that they otherwise wouldn’t. With rising anxiety comes less forethought, and always-present thoughts of economic challenges and potential unemployment can tempt even the most trustworthy employee into considering alternatives like fraud and theft.

Organizational Adjustments

Every successful business has struck a balance between its progressive operations and the appropriate level of security it needs. If security were sacrificed, the business’ operations would be undermined, but if security becomes too oppressive, the business wouldn’t be able to function well enough to support itself. As a result, businesses must find a middle ground, of sorts, that positions them in the best possible circumstances. Knowing what is right for your organization will help you feel the most secure.

Typical Behaviors Associated with Insider Threats

It doesn’t necessarily take the changes brought on by a pandemic to sour an employee’s opinion of a company, and data has shown that about 60 percent of insider threats involve data being taken as an employee prepares to leave a company—particularly if that employee had a role in preparing that data. Most who do this use email, while fewer numbers use cloud storage, data downloads, and removable storage media, respectively.

These flight risks can be spotted, however, with a little bit of diligence. For instance, if an employee is spending time on job search websites with no work-related reason to do so, you should be concerned, as you should if they are accessing data from a strange place or granting themselves more privileges than their responsibilities require. We aren’t saying you should helicopter your employees at all times, but knowing what they are up to and their intentions never hurts.

Insider threats are certainly a problem, but many potential ones can be fixed proactively. It is important to remember that not all of them will be intentional attacks to your business. Very often, it is more of a matter of an employee inadvertently compromising your security in the attempt to do their job—emailing themselves a file to work on it after hours, for instance. Employees who are operating remotely may be reverting to old security habits as they are out of the work environment. Regardless, you need to do whatever you can to minimize the threats your business and its data face from those closest to it.

Stopping Insider Threats

Communicate Better with Your Team

Right now many are doubting their job security. Therefore, it only makes sense that people aren’t taking the most well-thought-out actions or could be tempted to create an insurance policy for themselves. Frequently and clearly communicating with your team will help to make them relatively more comfortable in their given situation, hopefully making them less likely to make rash decisions or act out.

Maintain Relationships

During the pandemic, make sure you double-down on your efforts to evaluate how well your employees can cope under the circumstances and adjust your processes accordingly. This will both give you a closer view of your employees and assist you in reducing the stress that might lead to error otherwise.

Give Your Team the Tools for Success

Finally, make sure that the team is making the most of the solutions at its disposal. The collaboration solutions now available, paired with modern security measures and implemented with a focus on best practices, will make life easier for your team… something you want when difficulties will increase the chances of an insider threat.

For the tools and resources to help your business put these protections in place, even now, reach out to the professionals at Symmetric IT Group today. We can help bring your company the IT solutions and IT support it needs. Check out our managed IT services page for more information.

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