Insider Threats: What Are They, And Why Are They A Cybersecurity Risk?

Lately, more insider threats are happening. These are risks from employees within a company who might misuse important data or systems. Insider threats are not as easily noticed as threats from outside, but they can still cause big problems like financial losses, harm to reputation, and legal issues. Trevor Cooke, an expert in online privacy at EarthWeb shares insights on the matter, for businesses to inform and protect themselves going forward.


What Are the 3 Types of Insider Threats, According to Cooke?

Trevor Cooke has given us 3 main types of insider threats that can endanger a company’s security:

Malicious Insiders: These individuals intentionally misuse their access to steal, cause damage, or engage in other harmful actions. They might exploit their privileges for their own gain or to hurt the company. This group includes employees who intentionally share sensitive information or disrupt company systems.

Negligent Insiders: These employees unintentionally create security risks through careless behavior. This could involve falling for phishing scams, handling passwords poorly, or not managing sensitive data correctly. Even without intending to cause harm, their actions can create serious security gaps.

Compromised Insiders: Also called unwitting accomplices, these insiders have had their login information or devices taken over by external hackers. These employees aren’t to blame but become the way in which attackers access and mess with the company’s systems, or steal data.


Trevor also mentions the examples of Uber and Equifax, who have suffered from insider threats, where Uber experienced a data breach that revealed the personal information of millions of its users and drivers, all because of an insider. This was in 2017, and in the same year, another insider, at Equifax led to a breach that compromised the data of many.


How Can Businesses Protect Themselves?

Trevor Cooke suggests several methods for safeguarding against insider threats:

Limit Access to Sensitive Data: Making sure that employees are accessing only what they would need for their roles.
Educate Employees: Instructing on cybersecurity practices and the importance of protecting data.
Monitor Employee Activity: Employ tools to oversee how data is used within the company.
Implement Data Loss Prevention (DLP) Policies: Use solutions that block unauthorised data sharing.
Develop Incident Response Protocols: Prepare plans to quickly address and resolve data breaches.



What Does Other Data Show?

Security Intelligence reports that 60% of data breaches are actually from insider actions. Effective security measures within businesses to protect against both external and internal threats becomes so necessary because of this number.

To take this a step further, Cifas, a leading fraud prevention service in the UK, reports that 73% of businesses see cyber-attacks as a major threat, with insider threats also being a key issue. In the 2022-23 period, businesses in the UK faced over two million cyber incidents, this is very dangerous.


What Are The Trends In Cybersecurity?

It seems that there are still companies moving to hybrid and remote work models, so having solid cybersecurity strategies should be a must. Insider threats are more difficult to spot because the ones who are usually responsible have legitimate access to systems and don’t have to bypass in malicious ways.

Rachael Tiffen, Director of Learning for Cifas, states, “To effectively address insider threats, companies must improve cybersecurity knowledge among their employees.” She stresses the importance of training to protect against sophisticated fraud techniques.


Why Is Preventing Insider Threats Important?

Preventing insider threats is a big yet necessary function when it comes to keeping up data and system security in a company. Companies that focus on cybersecurity education and create a culture of fraud prevention protect the business operations and the security and privacy of their clients and stakeholders.

This rise in cyber threats needs for companies to keep vigilant and proactive. Taking note of the risks to insider threats and taking action to counter them helps companies stay protected from a all these risks, which in the end, creates a place with safer business operations in the UK.