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Predicting Insider Threats

Posted July 19, 2011    Peter McCalister

In the movie Minority Report, police have created a system which predicts crime before it happens in a nightmarish Orwellian scenario. But what if companies could predict who would attack their most valuable assets? What kinds of ethical considerations would arise?

While insider threats are less in number, when they do happen the damage is generally far greater than an outside attack. According to the 2011 CyberSecurity Watch Survey conducted by CSO Magazine and Deloitte, annual monetary losses from breaches average approximately $123,000 per organization.

This past year WikiLeaks has brought new meaning to the concept of insider threat by providing a convenient vehicle to empower staff at government agencies and public/private corporations to quickly and instantly hand over their privileged information to the world.

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory believe that combining traditionally monitored cyber security data with other kinds of organizational data is one option or inferring the motivations of individuals, which may in turn allow early prediction and mitigation of insider threats. While unproven outside the lab, researchers believe that this combination of data may yield better results than either cyber security or organizational data would in isolation. However, this nontraditional approach yields inevitable conflicts between security interests of the organization and privacy interests of individuals.

Should warning signs of a potential malicious insider be addressed before a malicious event has occurred to prevent harm to the organization and discouragethe insider from violating the organization’s rules? Predictive approaches cannot be validated a priori; false accusations may harm the career of the accused; and collection/monitoring of certain types of data may adversely affect employee morale.

While predicting insider threats makes for an interesting movie plot, the best bet for organizations in this day and age is to implement privileged identity management solutions to create boundaries that enable end users and applications to communicate freely within an IT environment without worry of intentional, accidental or indirect misuse of privilege.

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Additional articles

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Don’t Create a Different sudoers File for Each System

Posted May 20, 2015    Randy Franklin Smith

What if you have multiple Linux and/or Unix systems? Sudo management can become onerous and unwieldy if you try to manage a different sudoers file on each system. The good news is that sudo supports multiple systems.

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What Does Microsoft Local Administrator Password Solution Really Do?

Posted May 19, 2015    Morey Haber

LAPS is a feature that allows the randomization of local administrator accounts across the domain. Although it would seem that this capability overlaps with features in BeyondTrust’s PowerBroker Password Safe (PBPS), the reality is it is more suited for simple use cases such as changing the local Windows admin account and not much more.

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On Demand Webinar: Securing Windows Server with Security Compliance Manager

Posted May 14, 2015    BeyondTrust Software

On Demand Webinar: Security Expert Russell Smith, explains how to use Microsoft’s free Security Compliance Manager (SCM) tool to create and deploy your own security baselines, including user and computer authentication settings.

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