October 23, 2019

Dealing with Insider Threats to Cyber Security

Insider threats pose a significant cyber security risk to all organisations. Learn more about the insider threat landscape and ways to detect and mitigate risk.

Dealing with Insider Threats to Cyber Security

The biggest security threat an organization faces isn’t a misguided genius sitting outside the firewall attacking an organization’s valuable assets. Infact, it could be someone from within making a mistake or deliberately stealing data out of malicious intent. “Insider threats” can be simply defined as anyone who misuses their authorized access to sensitive data or systems to negatively impact the organization.

According to a recent Verizon Insider Threat Report, “Regular users have access to sensitive and monetizable data and are behind most internal data breaches.” The Verizon report says - as much as 34% of all breaches in 2018 were caused by insiders.

The Threat Landscape

Insiders don’t need to break into your network, they’re already in, with access to all your company’s valuable sensitive data. Insider threat profiles can be broadly classified into three types:

  • Malicious users: Individuals that abuse their trusted privileges to steal enterprise data out of malicious intent, often to secure an additional income stream
  • Careless users: Individuals that expose enterprise data due to careless behavior either in accidental error or to do work quickly
  • Compromised users: Individuals whose credentials are compromised by an outside attacker (e.g., the user clicked on a phishing email or visited a malicious website) and their credentials are used to access sensitive data

Threat Mitigation

Although you cannot fully eliminate the risk posed by insider threats in cybersecurity, you can definitely reduce the chances of a breach, and the potential damage that an insider can cause if you’re willing to make security a priority across the organization.

The 1st step in insider threat mitigation is detecting them at the workplace. Only then can one develop a thorough security plan that significantly reduces the risk they pose to your organization. Once you understand who insider threats are, it is critical to understand how they pose a threat to your data. Data admins must evaluate the anomalies to determine whether an unusual activity is a hacker or a legitimate internal user performing necessary business functions.

Here are a few standard cyber security tips for maintaining your enterprise’s data:

  • Authenticate access: Using two-factor authentication at the minimum, and setting up firmware that ensures employees change their password every quarter or lose access (temporarily) to be certain data access is secure.
  • Use data security detection tools: Instead of monitoring employees, which may lead to lower productivity due to hypervigilance, trying data security tools to monitor abnormalities and catch risky behavior before it turns into a nightly news story
  • Principle of least privilege: Fewer people with access to your critical files means fewer potential risks. This may, however, lead to false alerts causing unwanted noise in accessing sensitive information. This is where classifying your enterprise data first and then determining the user entitlements is most critical.


No matter how good your firewalls or intrusion detection systems (IDS) are, malicious and careless insiders will always pose a threat to data security. IT and security teams must tighten security where business-critical data is most exposed. Your security program must be nimble and flexible to take advantage of new defense measures and respond to the  changing risks.

Early detection of risky, unusual behavior is the best defense against insider threats. If you know what is happening then you’re in a far better position to take preventive measures against the threat. Kogni, a leading data security product, uses real-time user activity monitoring to detect early signs of insider threats and vastly reduces the amount of damage an insider can have. It can detect sensitive data information like social security numbers, credit card numbers, attachments and other data that may breach security and compliance, and automatically take action to prevent a breach.

You are more vulnerable than you think - Learn how to protect your data from insider threats with Kogni Data Security solutions today. Reach out to us at contact@kogni.io or visit us at kogni.io