blog post

Insider Threats Grow

The biggest insider threat today comes from the potential for malicious or negligent actions by employees, contractors, or business partners who have access to sensitive information and systems.

Unlike external threats, insiders already have legitimate access, making their actions harder to detect and prevent. This threat is particularly insidious because it can involve individuals who, by virtue of their positions, bypass many of the traditional cybersecurity defenses an organization might have in place.

And we have seen statistics after statistics claiming that more than 8 in 10 employees will bypass security controls to make their jobs easier.

Insider threats can manifest in various forms:

  1. Malicious Insiders: These individuals intentionally steal, sabotage, or compromise information or systems for personal gain, to inflict harm on the organization, or for ideological reasons. This includes selling sensitive data to competitors, deliberately introducing malware, or facilitating external breaches.
  2. Negligent Insiders: Often the most common insider threat, these are employees or contractors who inadvertently cause security incidents through carelessness or lack of awareness. Examples include falling for phishing attacks, misconfiguring databases, sharing passwords, or using unsecured networks to access company resources.
  3. Credential Theft: This involves external actors obtaining insiders’ credentials through social engineering, phishing, or other means, and then using those credentials to access systems as if they were the insider. While the initial compromise is external, the subsequent actions mimic those of an insider threat.

Remote Work and the Cloud

The rise of remote work and the increased use of cloud services have amplified the potential for insider threats. With data and applications more distributed than ever, controlling access and monitoring for unusual activity becomes more challenging.

6% of companies polled claim they are starting Zero Trust projects but 94% have none underway.

Organizations often struggle to balance the need for security with the need for accessibility, leading to potential vulnerabilities where insiders can exploit their access.

Human Risk Management

To mitigate insider threats, organizations need to adopt a comprehensive approach that includes both technological and human elements.

This may involve implementing strict access controls, conducting regular audits of user activities, deploying user behavior analytics (UBA) tools to detect unusual patterns that may indicate malicious activity, continuous monitoring and reporting of risk scores in real-time and establishing a strong culture of security awareness throughout the organization.

The objectives of Human Risk Management (HRM) are:

  • Targeting training to the employees most in need,
  • Automating compliance, and
  • Changing the culture to a model of security consciousness.

That is to say, we no longer need to drag the entire company through dreaded SAT training, which all by itself is a huge win.

How Does HRM Work?

The SmartHRM™ solution uses our customers’ installed security products to aggregate data about employee behaviors and then parses that data in real-time with views by employee, department, team, function, etc.

The views focus on a ‘risk score’, which is an immediate indicator of how risky or safe the behaviors are at each level. Risk scores that exceed the safe threshold are indicated for additional training at the individual or team level with training from our extensive library to address the specific risk.

Mitigating Insider Risk

The combination of a system like SmartHRM™ and a great training library will lower the threat levels and increase the security posture of any organization over time. The continuing monitoring will reveal the efficacy of the training and the areas that still require assistance.


Steve King

Managing Director, CyberEd

King, an experienced cybersecurity professional, has served in senior leadership roles in technology development for the past 20 years. He has founded nine startups, including Endymion Systems and seeCommerce. He has held leadership roles in marketing and product development, operating as CEO, CTO and CISO for several startups, including Netswitch Technology Management. He also served as CIO for Memorex and was the co-founder of the Cambridge Systems Group.


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