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Bringing you news and commentary on solutions and strategies for protecting critical IT infrastructure in the context of your business.

Insider Threats: What Can Be Done?

Posted April 17, 2012    Peter McCalister

IT security tends to focus on securing the network from external attacks, but little attention is given to malicious activity and human error within the company. According to InformationWeek’s 2012 Strategic Survey, company employees pose just as much of a threat as cyber thieves.

How can this be addressed?

A recent article by Dark Reading titled, How To Prevent Data Leaks From Happening To Your Organization, highlights that the most difficult element of defense is the human factor – implementing policies and training to educate employees on proper handling of sensitive data. The article lays out some strategies that can be integrated to keep essential information from getting out.

Email and web security gateways can be a beneficial tool to sit in-line and act as a relay, inspecting not only internal data traffic, but also outbound traffic that employees generate. This outgoing information can be inspected for terms sensitive to the company, and specific data types, raising red flags when prospective threats occur. Secondly, behavioral anomaly detection systems can be put into place to create a baseline of normal network activity, and report on activity that deviates from that baseline. The drawback is that this will only report, and it is up to security staff to investigate. These strategies are proven effective, but further policies can be employed to maintain data security and integrity within a network.

The article neglects to mention the implementation of privilege identity management as a viable solution to insider threat problems. Creating an internal perimeter with privileged access policies can significantly reduce dangers of theft or accidental disclosure. To counter misuse of privileges, enterprises must mitigate insider threats and clarify rank vs. privilege, supporting a least privilege environment.

Human nature is the weakest link when it comes to the intersection of people, processes and technology. In most situations it’s more often than not the case that people have way too much privileged access – admin rights on the desktop, root password on server – for the role they are required to play.

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