How to Protect Your Business from Insider Threat

Digital transformation isn’t new. But 2020 has brought it into sharp focus for a huge number of businesses. More digital data is being created and shared than ever – and accessing it remotely is now a necessity for many businesses to function day to day.

This also makes it more important than ever to protect corporate data with a robust access security framework. And when it comes to data breaches, one of the biggest and most underestimated risks is insider threat.

Who are the dangerous insiders?

Every business faces insider threat in some form. The 2020 Verizon breach report found that roughly 30% of breaches involved a business’s own staff. This percentage has been slowly rising since 2015 – and is showing no sign of slowing down. But does that mean malicious people are lurking around every corner of the office, ready to siphon off corporate data to a buyer on the dark web? Of course not. The reason insiders are so dangerous when it comes to breaches, is because they often act dangerously without meaning to.

While the term sounds sinister, insider threat refers to the risk associated with anyone that has legitimate access to sensitive data. This includes the likes of CEOs, HR managers, and IT system admins. It also extends to external providers, contractors, 3rd party vendors – and pretty much anyone who has access to critical systems that might be exploited. While there may be some people who act maliciously and conspire with external influences to sell data, the most common form of insider threat is unintentional.

Every set of user credentials represents a way into an organization’s critical systems. And each set of credentials is at risk of being lost, stolen, or shared with others. Users may be targeted by phishing or social engineering. They might also leave passwords in plain sight or store sensitive unencrypted information on cloud-based applications. While possibly in breach of internal security policies, these users aren’t deliberately causing leaks. However, the fallout from an accidental breach can be just as damaging as a deliberate one.

How to stop insider threat

The larger the organization, the higher the risk of insider threat. This is down to the number of entry points and amount of people with legitimate access to systems and data. Of course, while this could mean that every colleague should be treated as an accident or a breach waiting to happen, there are ways to mitigate this risk. The best solution for organizations is managing identity access through a centralized cloud-based Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) platform such as WALLIX Trustelem.

IDaaS systems offer a security framework that controls digital identities and account access, making it easy to trace and manage all corporate user identities. They can be integrated with an organization’s existing policies and technology to provide a centralized and automated tool for the control of user access. IDaaS systems enforce a zero-trust policy when it comes to accessing corporate data. That means nobody requesting access is taken at face value – they have to verify themselves through multi-factor authentication (MFA). Employing MFA means that even if login credentials are compromised, the would-be abuser would always need to be in possession of two or more authentication factors to gain access. A stolen password alone would not be enough.

There may also occasionally be deliberate insider threats to deal with – and these aren’t easy to detect. It can be hard to distinguish between normal and suspicious behavior, especially when users are working with applications and data that they use for their normal work. There are many ways a user can quickly and easily transfer a large amount of data. And in the case of a privileged insider with wide-ranging access, this can be seriously damaging.

How PAM protects against insider threat

The most important accounts to keep track of are the ones with elevated admin rights to sensitive corporate systems. The best and most effective way to do this is through Privileged Access Management (PAM). It’s vital that organizations know precisely which privileged accounts have permissions to access which resources in the network, and what they do with that access. In some cases, people may have accumulated rights they don’t really need over time, through privilege creep. Even worse, some people who have left the organization or changed roles may still have elevated privileges enabled.

PAM offers comprehensive control over insider access to an organization’s infrastructure, including cloud-based systems and on-premise servers. A PAM system enforces the Principle of Least Privilege, which is key to mitigating insider threat. It ensures that people only have the access they need to do their jobs, and if their credentials are compromised, a hacker can’t wreak havoc across the entire infrastructure.

Best-in-class PAM solutions such as the WALLIX Bastion offer a range of ways to protect against insider threat.

  • Real-time event analysis: Ongoing session monitoring automatically identifies, alerts, and terminates suspicious activity in sensitive resources. Privileged user sessions are monitored and can be audited for review and compliance.
  • Consolidated access control: All administrative access such as granting and revoking privileges runs through a single console. This facilitates the limiting of a user’s access to only those resources necessary to do his or her job – no more and no less.
  • Password management: With a password manager, nobody ever needs to know the root passwords to critical systems. All access is routed through the Bastion, and passwords rotate to ensure complete security.

Protect your business against Insider Threat

It’s possible to trust and value your colleagues while also being wary of insider threat. The best way to keep systems and data safe from deliberate or accidental misuse is through a comprehensive access security framework that:

  • Ensures the person logging in is who they say they are through MFA
  • Uses real-time monitoring and activity logs to detect unusual behavior
  • Enforces the principle of least privilege

Get in touch today to learn more about how WALLIX’s suite of identity and access security solutions – including WALLIX  Trustelem and WALLIX Bastion – can protect your business from insider threat.