Cybersecurity in a Remote World – Defending Against Insider Threats

Cybersecurity in a Remote World – Defending Against Insider Threats

Whether companies are dealing with malicious or careless behavior and activity, both involve authorized users who have access. Organizations are recognizing the need to effectively regulate network access for authorized users and eliminate existing network security holes to counter insider threats.

Although the insider threat is not a new risk for security teams, it has been pushed to the back burner in many organizations due to phishing, ransomware, and other new external threats. However, in the aftermath of COVID-19 and the new remote workforce, enterprises have never had a greater need to effectively balance their efforts to fight against both internal and external threats.

Insider threat events have climbed by 44% in the last two years, according to the Ponemon Institute’s 2022 Cost of Insider Threats: Global Report.” Insider threats increased in 2020 as a result of the pandemic and subsequent shift to a remote work model – and will continue to be an issue as companies extend their remote work programs for the near future. 

How can companies protect themselves against the rising number of incidents if the migration to remote work has taken away their main defense against insider threats? The solution to this is implementing a comprehensive insider threat strategy while maintaining a commitment to cultivating a culture in which employees are invested in the mission of the company and feel comfortable reporting suspicious behavior.

Here are a few best practices organizations can adopt:

Control and Limit Access

Employee access to the apps, systems, data repositories and processes that they require to accomplish their essential job should be strictly limited. Access control reduces the scope and impact of an attack while also reducing the chance of sensitive and confidential data falling into the wrong hands.

Access rights should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that they appropriately reflect people’s needs as they transition into and out of different roles within the company. Access to any resource that an employee no longer needs should be withdrawn.

Also Read: Insider Threats at Workplace: Top Four Strategies to Prevent Them

Accounts of employees who are no longer employed by the organization should be terminated or secured with a new password quickly. Account deactivation should ideally be properly integrated into the company’s off boarding processes to ensure the security of company data when an employee leaves.

Customize Training and Awareness

Two of the most successful strategies to guard against insider threats are awareness campaigns and training initiatives, especially when targeted to different roles within the company. An executive, for example, may have a different perspective on policies and processes than an analyst. Furthermore, each function is likely to have different levels of access to sensitive information and locations. Customizing insider threat awareness and training for each function in the organization can have a significant and positive impact on the overall insider threat program.

Track User Behavior

Monitoring behaviour of users can help companies in detecting unusual network activity and intervening early to reduce the damage of an insider attack.

Entity and user behavior analytics tools can be used to discover anomalous patterns and automatically warn IT security staff. In the same way, an intrusion detection system can be a useful tool for monitoring strategic network points and alerting administrators to hostile activity or policy violations.

Support and Encourage Employees 

Employees require assistance, encouragement, or a sympathetic ear. Supervisors and managers that check in with their direct reports on a weekly basis can be beneficial to struggling employees and show that they care about their well-being. Employee support can also be demonstrated by respecting personal lives of the employees and ensuring they maintain work/life balance.

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