Understanding Insider Risk and How To Prepare For It

Understanding Insider Risk and How to Prepare For It

Written by: Liliana Sanchez

Reviewed by:
Updated: August 17, 2022

Table of contents

Your technology department has built defenses to manage threats from multiple angles, like scams and phishing links. But sometimes, the threat comes from a lot closer to home: insider risks. 

It’s easy to forget that employee missteps — like losing their work phone or sharing their passwords — can create a lot of security problems. But insider risks are a significant source of cybersecurity headaches, so your GRC software should help insider risk management and mitigate the damage.

What is Insider Risk? 

Insider risk is any action that your employees, contractors, or vendors take that puts you at risk of a breach. And no, this doesn’t have to be malicious! Employees are humans, after all, and can have accidents that can expose your data.

Regardless, data breaches often happen because of human carelessness. With insider risk assessments, though, you can identify which humans in your organizations are a bigger threat to data breaches. 

Like Doug, who refuses to use a VPN or secure Wi-Fi when he’s working in a coffee shop

Every time you add new users to your network, you could open yourself up to more risks. It’s like giving 50 of your friends the keys to your house and expecting everyone to lock up 100% of the time. They’re going to forget to lock the door, or they’ll leave a window open because they’re human — and that’s why organizations should take insider risk management seriously. 

4 Tips to Protect Your Business From Insider Risks

There’s no need to breathe down your team’s necks. With the right GRC software at your side, you can easily protect your business from common insider risks. Try these four tips to lock down your systems and reduce insider risks.

1. Monitor user behavior

Whether an employee is angry and decides to erase files at 2 a.m. or a hacker just stole their credentials, you need to know what’s normal for every user in your organization. This way, if something weird is going on, the system can flag it, and you can revoke that user’s access before they do more damage.

User behavior analytics (UBA) software tracks the historical activities of a user, so if something is suddenly out of character, you can nip it in the bud. With UBA, you can see: 

  • Where people log in from
  • What time they’re online
  • Which endpoint or device they’re using
  • What data or systems they’re accessing

Now, some of these activities might be legitimate. That’s why UBA does risk scoring, which assigns a risk level to every user. This way, you don’t freeze your database administrator’s account every time they try to move data.

UBA doesn’t act as a “big brother” to see exactly what your employees do at every moment of their work day. This software analyzes behavior to determine risk; it doesn’t monitor your employees to see what they’re doing on each application. 

2. Train employees on cybersecurity policies

According to the 2022 Data Breach Investigation from Verizon, 82% of human errors led to data breaches. That’s why you need policies governing your team’s behavior with cybersecurity best practices outlined. Plus, regulations and frameworks often require you to document policies and train employees on them, anyway.

At a minimum, you need to train employees when they onboard and once yearly after that. Your training should explain cloud security, how social engineering works, how to spot phishing attempts, and why IT security is so important. A good policy with proper cybersecurity training will help your employees safeguard themselves from silly mistakes.

3. Enforce policies

Nobody wants to be a disciplinarian, but insider risks are serious business. You made security policies for a reason, so employees need to take them seriously.

For example, if Carol refuses to lock her office when she leaves for the day and continues to click on phishing links, that’s a performance issue, and she could be an insider threat. Consider rewards or documenting consequences for employees as they learn to follow insider risk best practices. 

It might seem harsh, but since the average cost of a data breach is $4.35 million, you’ve got 4.35 million reasons to enforce security policies.

4. Invest in physical security and surveillance

Depending on your technology resources, you might need to invest in physical security as part of your controls management. If you don’t want your employees to pull an Office Space on you, invest in physical security in the form of: 

  • Installing cameras and alarms in secured spaces, like server rooms
  • Forbidding CDs, flash drives, or floppy disks
  • Requiring keycards to enter sensitive areas

Assess Insider Risks Automatically

Companies aren’t built on paper anymore. An angry employee isn’t going to sneak files out of your business — they’re going to mess with your digitized data. This is another reason that Forrester has recommended that companies practice empathy while preparing for insider risk during economic layoffs. Whether it’s malicious or accidental, accounting for insider risks protects your business.

It’s tough managing insider risks without alerts, analytics, and enforcement, which is why your business needs GRC for IT security. LogicGate’s Risk Cloud® platform lets you review user behavior and take action on it if necessary. But don’t take our word for it: request a demo now to see Risk Cloud in action for yourself.

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