Internal Threats Are Far More Dangerous Than External Threats
Internal threats can be even more dangerous than external threats in security breaches. Click here to find out the best practices for eliminating internal threats.
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In the 2016 Cyber Security Intelligence Index, IBM found that 60 percent of all attacks were carried out by insiders that you trust. Of these attacks, three-quarters involved malicious intent, and one-quarter involved careless negligence.
Cyber thieves use personal information to launch spear phishing attacks and commit fraud with social security numbers to steal medical identities and obtain fraudulent prescriptions. IBM Security research found healthcare, manufacturing, and financial services to be the top three industries under attack, due to their amounts of personal data, intellectual property, physical inventory, and massive economic assets.
During a recent visit to a large Midwest healthcare provider with over 23,000 employees at their cybersecurity awareness event, a panel member stated that the average cost of each Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is worth over $1350.
In the article, "Your Electronic Medical Records Could Be Worth $1000 To Hackers," the author outlines where most threats originate — internally.
One can cancel credit cards and even change social security numbers, but health information cannot be changed or canceled. But if there is a breach, hackers can blackmail victims for a lifetime.
Rogue players from inside companies steal identities to hack into their assets. When I worked at IBM, I held dual responsibilities for application and server security. I learned firsthand how effectively IBM implements multi-layer protection from internal and external threats, which is critical in today’s connected world. It’s interesting to learn from Marc van Zadelhoff about Cyber Security Intelligence Index and his thoughts on Insider Threats. While the value of records in industries and sectors differ substantially, the threats businesses have in common are people, assets, and technology. All three have the potential to be an insider threat.
15 Approaches to Minimize Potential Insider Threats
While this is not the complete list, it helps to begin the thought process. Ask the IT staff how they ensure “insider malware” is not already in the network and what precautions are taken so far?
- The risk-based approach addresses each problem individually and is a cost-effective approach with the best results.
- Automation is key. Logging and automating processes that check logs for unusual activities is a good idea. Keyword-driven automation testing frameworks might be a good fit for the organization. Involve existing resources (e.g., Automation Architects). Use their expertise to build automation programs to filter, detect, and alert based on relevant keywords to identify unusual activities from the large log files. Security and automation architects should work together and follow a lean approach to achieve the best results.
- Regular auditing of high-risk users or employees who have a past problem history with their verbal/non-verbal cues and are dissatisfied with their job.
- Know who the weak links are and working with HR to identify them.
- Identify information that is lucrative to rogue players and protect that with additional layers of security.
- Traditional methods of investing time and resources in background checks and pre-employment screening still prove valuable.
- Cybersecurity is only as strong as the weakest link is. All cybersecurity tools and technologies are one side of the coin and the employees are the other. Employees are often seen as an afterthought in significant cybersecurity incidents or breaches.
- Conduct Risk Assessments, Insider Threat Analysis, and Identity Privilege Management. Delete inactive users, contractors, vendors, and vendor ids.
- Implement multi-factor authentication. Rotate the critical responsibilities between the employees randomly. Financial institutions have yielded positive results with this approach for decades.
- Conduct basic Social Engineering attacks and prevention methods periodically (Phishing, Baiting, Tailgating, Quid Pro Quo, etc.)
- Patching and manually checking that these patches are applied and up to date.
- Conquer easy things first and then move to harder threats.
- Phish — check from top to bottom and bottom to top within the organization.
- Carefully monitor USB ports, networks, and look for any abnormal activities.
- Monitor vendors and contractors activities strictly. If there is a doubt, phish with relevant content. See who gives out information that they should not — train!
Something we implemented at IBM and TechVelocityPartners.com that produced better ROI is “strictly enforcing the separation of duties and identifying the least privileges required to perform the job from day one.” This should be the first thing.
No industry or organization is immune to cyber threats. IBM in the 2016 Cyber Security Intelligence Index suggests how to outthink threats.
It's time for all organizations, boards, executives, and security leaders to realize that addressing compliance requirements, conducting risk assessments, annual penetration testing, and incident response exercises are not enough. A single careless employee or a loophole is all a hacker needs to steal millions of dollars’ worth of data and cause irreparable harm to the organization.
Security experts at IBM suggest these four essential steps toward developing a strategic cybersecurity program:
- Prioritize business objectives and set the risk tolerance
- Protect the organization with a proactive security plan
- Prepare a response for the inevitable and sophisticated attacks
- Promote and support a culture of security awareness
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